Signature Spaces: A Modern Fitness Room that Honors the Past

When plans for a renovation began, Nightingale students were asked what types of facilities they would most like to see in a new schoolhouse. There were many suggestions, but one idea had overwhelming support: a dedicated fitness center. With the opening of the Jenny Smith Fitness Room, the students of Nightingale have had their wish granted.
Named after Jenny Smith, who was Nightingale’s beloved athletic director from 1985 to 2011, the fitness room will help support the health, wellness, and physical fitness of girls in all grades. Filled with a variety of modern exercise equipment–including suspension trainers, rowers, skiers, spin bikes, an artificial turf patch, and free weights–this “signature space” is already being used by PE classes and athletic teams.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with the room,” said Dr. Pam Charles, interim head of the PE department. “The Middle and Lower Schoolers–as young as Class I–all use different aspects of it, and we are getting rave reviews from the Upper Schoolers.”
According to Margot Vencil '21, who has used the room for PE Class and her varsity soccer practice, the fitness room “helps us exercise the muscles that need strength to support our knees and ankles, while also bringing more awareness to our weaknesses.”
The room’s equipment allows Nightingale’s student-athletes to “isolate parts of the body that you need to work on,” added Clare New '21.
The lead design consultant of the fitness room was PE faculty member Lisa Campbell. “We knew that the students had wanted one for a long time, and that the PE and athletics departments could benefit from it,” she said. “[Director of Athletics] Deb Malmgren asked me to brainstorm an idea, and from there, it was a two-year process, from concept to ordering all the gear.
“We tried to design the space with everyone in mind, and make it accessible to everyone, K-12,” she continued. “Everything in there is movable, so you can have an open floor to do yoga or other activities. There are monkey bars and soft plyometric boxes. We put in two different surface areas to make it as sport-specific as possible; soccer and lacrosse can practice footwork on the artificial turf. The room will also be used for rehabilitation and strength and conditioning, not only increasing the level of fitness for athletic teams but helping prevent injury.”
Ms. Malmgren further detailed how useful this dedicated space for training is: “Currently the fall teams [cross country, soccer, volleyball] are using the equipment to develop strength and agility and aid in injury prevention. The PE faculty are introducing the space to students in Lower, Middle, and Upper School with age-appropriate activities as part of the PE curriculum.
“Back in August, the PE staff and coaches took a TRX curriculum course to learn the many ways the new equipment can be used for a variety of ages and objectives,” she added. “The space has been designed to provide the most flexibility and to accommodate a wide range of ages and abilities.”
The fitness room is also open to students and staff on a first-come, first-served basis before school, and so far, according to Dr. Charles, it has been filled to capacity: “It’s good to get the blood flowing early, as research has shown that doing something aerobic in the morning supports the learning process throughout the day.”

Check back for more about our new spaces in the coming days, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates and other news.

These spaces are made possible by the generosity of donors to the Every Girl campaign. You can still support our efforts by making a gift today! To donate online, click here.