Mount Mercy Academy has always been concerned with educating the whole student — mind, body and emotions. Social and emotional health has been a major concern since the advent of the Covid 19 Pandemic. Mount Mercy has addressed these concerns in many ways the past year and a half and the school continues to find ways to help both the students and the staff. The latest effort to address physical and emotional health is the relocation and expansion of the school’s wellness center.
Physical education teacher Kelly Tomlinson, who also owns and runs BTC Fitness & Wellness Center located at Cloverbank Country Club, has spearheaded the renovation of the Mount Mercy Wellness Center. The school’s previous center initially established with help from Catalyst Fitness, was moved to a larger, better lit and ventilated room and enhanced with donations from Mary Claire Sumbrum, Class of 1999, head of school Michele Melligan and Tomlinson and BTC Fitness. Sumbrum donated mirrors for the walls, Melligan donated an exercise bike and Tomlinson donated free weights, medicine balls and stability balls.
The room also has a cardio machines including treadmill, treadmill, an elliptical and an additional exercise bike. There is also a Nautilus machine, free weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, jump ropes, and yoga mats. Tomlinson is hoping to add a rowing machine, additional spin bikes and treadmills and trx suspension trainers. Boxing bags and gloves have also been ordered.
An unexpected benefit from the mirrors is being realized by the school’s dance classes offered for physical education credit. “The wellness room has helped in many different ways between having actual equipment to exercise in, but also to be able to dance class in the room as well,” junior Kayla Pietrkiewicz of Buffalo noted. “The wellness room gave my dance class the opportunity to learn our routines with the mirrors, which really helped.”
The vision for the Wellness Center is to provide students with a positive and healthy space to work out and to be the healthiest versions of themselves. Tomlinson also feels it will allow both the students and staff to become healthier and stronger, along with reducing stress and anxiety, providing positive energy, improving learning for the students, developing higher morale and encouraging goal-setting. She also feels it will help to keep students safe by showing them the proper way to work out, as well as help the Magic student athletes become stronger and help to prevent injuries.
Sophomore Rosie Bandura of West Seneca, the soccer MVP of the Monsignor Martin B League, is excited about the possible benefits from using the wellness room. “The new wellness room is an exciting addition to Mount Mercy. It allows for athletes and all students to exercise and grow stronger and it is something that I am looking forward to using a lot,” Bandura stated.
Senior Aubrey Monaco of Buffalo supports the boost in morale. “It is so nice that we are able to leave encouraging messages on our chalkboards in the wellness room to give other students motivation! It reminds us to push ourselves and maintain or improve our exercise habits,” Monaco remarked.
The room is already being used during physical education classes. During class Tomlinson and fellow teacher Mike Hardy are able to show students the proper way of working out. This will provide students with the knowledge about proper ways to work out so that when they go to a gym outside of school or work out at home, they will stay safe. Tomlinson hopes to have at least two after-school times for students to utilize the room with faculty or staff supervising, as well as provide two group fitness classes each week for faculty and staff.
Junior Abby Mailloux of Buffalo is enjoying the new benefits of the wellness room. “This is a great addition to physical education classes and a new way to keep students moving. Mrs. Tomlinson has high hopes for the wellness center and I am excited to see what she comes up with,” Mailloux commented.
Tomlinson’s expertise and background has enabled her to offer all students individualized workouts for their specific needs. She is currently working with several students and providing them with their own personalized workouts.
So far the room has been receiving positive feedback from the students. Tomlinson said they like the openness of the room, the variety of equipment options and learning new workout techniques.
“I am very excited to have this opportunity to help students and staff with their health and wellness journey,” Tomlinson remarked. “I look forward to all the final touches and seeing everyone utilize this new great space. Together we are Mount Mercy Strong!”