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South Valley Journal

Summer circuit training a hit with Riverton teens

Aug 03, 2022 08:46PM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

While many teens are spending the summer playing video games, a small group of Riverton teens are circuit training with Riverton City police officers.

Crushin' It Circuit Training, a 3-week course, is taught by officers Mike Ashley, the School Resource Officer at Oquirrh Hills Middle, and Gavin Johnson, the SRO at South Hills Middle, with support from Riverton City Recreation Coordinator Dan Blake and OHMS PE teacher Andy Marsh.

A session was held in July and another is happening in August. Students who have passing grades and no disciplinary problems were invited to participate. They signed up for a variety of reasons and gained a variety of benefits.

Justin, an incoming seventh-grader, said the hard work of circuit training has helped him be stronger and faster at soccer practice. Easton, who is going into eighth grade at Hidden Valley Middle, wanted to improve his eye-hand coordination for playing baseball. Ethan, who will be a seventh-grader, and took the class to be more fit, said the class made exercising more fun.

Ben said the class has helped prepare him for his first year in middle school.

“I have more confidence,” he said. “And I’m willing to do hard physical things.”

Three days a week, teens learned boxing principles and coordination. Their favorite part was using those skills to run an obstacle course and to perform a choreographed “jiggy.”

Ashley said the program teaches teens confidence, teamwork and how to deal with stress and anxiety. They also have a daily assignment to do a good deed for someone. Ashley said the class provides a healthy amount of competition which encourages kids to challenge themselves.

            “They learn that they can do anything they put their mind to,” he said.

Ashley, who had the idea for the program, said it has been a success because the teens have made connections with their peers and with their school SROs.

“This has turned out way better than I ever dreamed,” Ashley said.

Two sessions with two classes each kept class sizes small enough that Ashley could focus on developing good relationships with the kids, which was his main objective.

“I'm actually rubbing shoulders with them, developing a friendship with them, a relationship, when I'm one-on-one, so they know me,” he said. “A better relationship makes things better at school.”

            During the school year, Ashley teaches a 6-week circuit training class to interested students as a reward for good behavior.

Areli participated in the class as a seventh-grader and liked it so much, she signed up for the July session.

“It’s really fun to do, you just get very tired doing it,” she said.

She said the program has helped her become more confident.

“It’s changed how I act, because I used to be really shy,” she said.

Crushin’ It is a cooperative effort to realize Ashley’s idea, said OHMS Principal Donna Hunter. The school provides the weight room, which was built two years ago, and Riverton City helps provide the equipment and staff.

“It's an awesome opportunity for us to contribute. It's a win all the way around,” Hunter said.

 Blake, who runs several youth programs for the city, said Crushin' It provides a positive outlet for teens.

“These kids are at a formative age—stress and anxiety gets to them,” Blake said. “We just want to have a good outlet for them to let that out and to help those kids get the boost of confidence that they need for junior high.”

            Ashley hopes to expand the summer program to the high school next year.