Carbondale Creates Community Around Strength Training

Students at weight stations during a Carbondale PE class.

At Carbondale Community High School in Illinois, the weight room is more than just another classroom in the school. Instead, it serves as a place where students and teachers create a sense of community. DeAndre Smith, a PE teacher and coach at Carbondale, explains that as a community, the strength training program centers around growth,


Strength training gives every individual an opportunity to build and grow to their highest potential. And in the weight room, we can achieve that together.”


And when DeAndre says everyone, he means it. Students come to the weight room all throughout the school day for classes. In addition, teachers from across the building are involved in a staff wellness program. Altogether, the school has created a community around the weight room that is supporting everyone at Carbondale Community High School.

Carbondale weight room.
Carbondale weight room.

Carbondale Student Strength Training Opportunities 

At Carbondale, students have a myriad of opportunities to participate in strength training. 


Freshmen PE is the first introduction to the weight room. DeAndre credits fellow PE teacher and girl’s basketball coach Tracy Hill for taking the lead with first-year students, 


“During freshmen PE, students can get a taste of the weight room for the first time, eventually leading them to different options for the rest of their high school career. 

After this taste, students can dive into strength training and athletic PE classes offered to 10th-12th graders. DeAndre describes how these classes are available to everyone at Carbondale, 


“We see a very mixed bag of students. Some need a more thorough introduction to the weight room, while others are ready to tackle some advanced programming and training. But we all train together!” 

Technology Supports Carbondale’s Strength Training Community 


With so many students coming into the weight room, Carbondale has tapped into technology to support their strength training program. DeAndre says that the addition of tech has helped to really bolster the experience for everyone involved,


“When we added PLT4M, we saw a clear roadmap for success. It makes us efficient and effective when assigning workouts, teaching new movements, tracking progress, and motivating people to work hard.” 


Carbondale had previously used another strength and conditioning app, but DeAndre says they are excited by what PLT4M has offered, 


“We had used Teambuildr, and it was a good program for individual sports. But we wanted something that would work for the whole school. PLT4M has helped to streamline our program to support all students.” 

PLT4M displayed on TV monitor inside the Carbondale weight room.
Carbondale displays things like instructional videos and leaderboards with PLT4M on a the monitor inside the weight room.

The Power Of Motivation 


With the addition of technology, Carbondale has seen a significant increase in motivation. DeAndre explains the excitement students experience when they make progress or get onto a leaderboard, 


“Seeing the numbers on PLT4M motivates students in a completely different way. Better yet, the leaderboards we have on PLT4M and displayed in the weight room have sparked a new level of excitement at the school.” 


Motivation continues beyond the leaderboards. DeAndre also sends a weekly newsletter to teachers and families highlighting the “Terrier Titans” of the week. DeAndre says a simple spotlight can go a long way, 


“Each week, we pick 2 male and 2 female students who are the hardest workers of the week. This gives these students bragging rights and great pride for getting recognized via a shoutout.”

Carbondale strength training leaderboards.
Carbondale strength training leaderboards.

Staff Wellness Strength Training 


Beyond students using the weight room throughout the school day, teachers are also getting involved with a staff wellness program. DeAndre created this program to support teachers with fitness opportunities and inspire students, 


“Kids get more motivated when they see teachers and role models also working to get fit and be healthy.” 


Within the staff fitness group, each teacher has a partner they check in with weekly. In addition, the teachers meet as a whole group every few weeks to talk about their goals and experiences. 


Now, teachers are working out in the weight room before and after school and even during lunch. Like the students, teachers in the staff wellness program can access workouts and other helpful tools via their PLT4M accounts. 


Soon, Carbondale plans to host staff wellness challenges to take the teacher program to the next level. 

Growing The Community At Carbondale 


While Carbondale is excited about the community created around strength training, DeAndre says they hope to continue growing the weight room culture within the district,


“We just met with all of the feeder middle schools in our district with the hopes of starting the foundational elements of strength training at an even earlier level. The goal is to help even more students get comfortable and confident in the weight room.” 


In addition to building the middle school program, Carbondale also has its sights set on a powerlifting team to continue giving students new opportunities to push themselves in the weight room. The goal is to keep growing an already successful strength training program, 


“The strength training Carbondale has taken off in a really exciting way. And we want to build on that success and keep finding new ways to enhance what we offer for our students.” 

Carbondale student performs bench press with a spotter and onlooker.
Carbondale students working out.

Key Takeaways on Carbondale’s Strength Training Community 


Carbondale Community High School has invested in the weight room for everyone at the school. Students have a wide range of opportunities to train and be their best selves. Even teachers are encouraged to take part in the staff wellness program. 


And while the school can point to quantitative numbers around participation and progress via PLT4M, DeAndre says that the biggest success cannot be measured or counted, 


“Our strength training motto at Carbondale is, ‘Do The Work. Build a Legacy.’ And there is a great sense of pride around what we are doing as a community in the weight room that I am excited to keep building on.” 


As more schools look to redefine health and wellness for students and teachers, Carbondale showcases the powerful impact of strength training and weight room for everyone at the school. 

image oh student squatting and a phone with graph

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