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Founders Hall staffers find time for fitness in their daily routine

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 4:12 a.m.
Founders Hall staff, from left, Lisa Miracle, Brie Adams and Christy Oakley work with trainer Reggie Dulaney during an after-school workout session. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
In the Founders Hall exercise room, Sherry Yacco, principal Karen Chapman and Chris Nemchick use eliptical machines. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

While many will hustle to incorporate fitness routines into their New Year's resolutions next week, a group of McKeesport Area educators got a head start.

Beginning with the start of school, rather than waiting for a new calendar year, Founders Hall Middle School staffers are modeling their exercise plans after teacher Christy Oakley's summer experience with the Murrysville-based Panthro Fitness.

“When I went to my first session, I couldn't do a single push-up,” Oakley recalled.

At that moment, she looked at trainer Reggie Dulaney and said, “I'm broken, and I need fixed.” With consistent motivation and a positive attitude, Oakley said, she was well on her way to good health, physically and mentally.

The Panthro motto incorporates mind, body and soul; and Oakley wanted to share her experience with friends.

“I asked Reggie to come to McKeesport, and he said, ‘I'm not a traveling show,” Oakley said with a laugh.

Dulaney said he couldn't say no to Oakley's request, but she maintains, “He said ‘no' twice. Then he said, ‘Find me a gym.' My thought was, ‘How about a cafeteria?'”

For the past four months, nine Founders Hall staffers have met in the middle school cafeteria after dismissal three times per week to tone their muscles and strengthen their friendships.

“It worked so well that the school allowed us to bring the program here,” Oakley said. “Even the camaraderie in our building has changed.”

Co-worker Lisa Miracle said it's amazing what three weekly sessions of a 45-minute workout can do.

“You know if you go home, it's game over,” she said. “It's so motivating to know that you can come downstairs to work out, and your friends are asking if you're going to be there.”

Miracle said the experience makes the teachers feel like a team.

“Everybody urges each other along,” principal Karen Chapman agreed. “Every time, it's something different. And we're all here together making sure we can do it.”

Dulaney said he's proud of the Founders Hall staff for taking on fitness as a team-building theme.

“It's fun,” he said. “They're with their peers, and we're creating a dynamic school environment.”

The Panthro presence builds upon an initiative started during the 2011-12 school year, when donations from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Walmart and other contributors purchased equipment for an exercise room used by students and staff.

“Students can use it during the day,” Chapman said. “It's incorporated into their gym classes and other programs.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or