Located on the campus of Arsenal Tech High School a few blocks east of downtown Indianapolis, the center is a collaboration of NFL Charities, Indy’s Super Bowl Host Committee and a host of other supporting organizations and companies. The John H. Boner Community Center oversees the Legacy Center, which features The Fitness Zone, a facility managed and staffed by the IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management (PETM) at IUPUI.
The Zone was created to provide a low-cost, high-impact site for workouts, training and therapy to serve families living nearby, and the PETM faculty and students who work with patrons say it’s already a hit.
Jay Gladden, the school’s dean, believes the Legacy Center can become “a dynamic teaching laboratory that deeply engages students in the improvement of community health.” From his perspective, the chance for students to connect theory to practice and use physical activity to improve people’s health is an invaluable teaching aid.
Sarah Shore-Beck oversees the school’s PARCS (Physically Active Residential Communities and Schools) program, the umbrella over both the Legacy Center and a similar program at George Washington Community High School. She’s a regular at The Fitness Zone, and is excited about the early returns she’s seen.
“Our goal was to have 400 members by the end of the first month, and we really exceeded that,” Shore-Beck says. “We had an overwhelming response — we got to more than 800 members in that month.”
Brian Culp is one of the PETM faculty members who has helped get The Fitness Zone off to a fast start, and he’s amazed at how quickly the facility has made its mark. “The NFL has never done anything quite like this,” Culp marvels. “It’s a big, big deal — it’s not just a place for our kids to learn, but it’s part of these neighborhoods and our school — and it’s for everyone!”
The IUPUI students run fitness classes (like Zumba dancing or group exercise), oversee personal training sessions, and more. The school also runs the Ability Activity Clinic to help people recovering from strokes, heart attacks or other health issues, and to assist adults managing lives with Down syndrome.
Gladden is excited about another feature the school offers: physical assessments for patrons that help identify needs, goals and workout plans. “Regular assessment will help us modify existing programs, and create new ones that are needed,” the dean says.
That type of growth is important to the future of the Legacy Center and The Fitness Zone, Shore-Beck believes. “We want to make the center all-inclusive,” she says. “We want to provide more programs all the time, to help this community.”
For Culp, the sense of community is more than just a gathering place for neighborhood residents. It is expanding to include IUPUI students, too. “You see it in the way people who come here and our students relate to one another,” he says. “We have kids who have never had anyone reach out to help them, who draw cards for our students in appreciation of what they do. That means a lot to our students — they are not just serving this community, they’re becoming part of it.”