Herron-Riverside High School unveils girls gym for student athletes

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kendall Hawthorn is a junior who runs track and cross country at Herron-Riverside High School. She’s excited about having the new fitness space custom-built for her and her teammates. It was a far cry from the workout room they use to occupy before practice.

“We had a weight room. There weren’t that many weights and there wasn’t a lot of equipment. It was like a fourth of this room,” Hawthorn said about the new space. “I feel really happy and proud because we’re a really small school that like started off more recently than a lot of other schools in Indy and I feel like this kind of shows that we’re growing.”

Elevance Health has partnered with the national nonprofit Impact Fitness Foundation to create the new gym at the school. With more than 60% of the student-athlete population being girls, the new gym comes with women’s health equity in mind. Following the unveiling of the space, the student-athletes and coaches took part in a training clinic with athletic trainers from Impact Fitness and the Indiana Fever to help orient them to their new facility.

The completely renovated space includes new flooring, weight equipment, resistance tools and a fresh coat of paint that reflects the school colors, mascot, and motto. 

Aunna Smith is a freshman at Herron-Riverside on the basketball team.

She’s already chosen her favorite work out machine before practice; one that uses resistance bands.

“It kind of makes doing push ups a little bit more easier than like when you’re doing it on the ground, Smith said. “I can actually come in here and work out and stuff without having to move stuff around.”

With over 950 students in grades 9-12, the school has ten total sports teams.

Emanuel Harper is the Head of School at Herron-Riverside High and said their weight rooms were an area the school wanted to enhance for decades to come.

“Part of our mission here is to ensure all students, particularly our girls who occupy 60% of our rosters in athletics have state of the art facilities that they can train in,” Harper said. “So the hopes and dream for this space is to be a transformational space for our girls.”

He said Herron-Riverside strives to promote a lifetime of learning, and that not only applies to their rigorous academic curriculum, but also to the health and well-being of their students and families. The addition of a proper fitness facility, thanks to Elevance Health and the Impact Fitness Foundation, will provide a strong foundation for building healthy habits that will last far beyond high school.   

“It’s not news that regular physical activity helps kids improve their fitness levels, and the pandemic really highlighted that it is a necessary part of reducing anxiety and depression” Chris Welsh, Founder and President of the Impact Fitness Foundation, said. “Yet when it comes to the modernization of public school buildings, fitness and movement spaces are rarely part of the conversation.  We are thrilled to partner with a company like Elevance Health that believes in whole health and is invested in supporting schools that don’t have the resources they need.”

“As an organization with deep roots in our communities, we are committed to advancing health equity – when everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible – both nationally and locally,” Dr. Darrell Gray, II, Chief Health Equity Officer at Elevance Health, said. “Through our partnership with Impact Fitness Foundation and Herron-Riverside High School, students will have increased access to resources and enhanced programming needed to optimize physical health.”