By Jenna Berrios
Camp Shriver and Twilight Camp both feature a station every day of camp in the Wawa Exercise and Wellness Center located at Special Olympics New Jersey Sports Complex. Not only does this station teach athlete’s the importance of wellness and fitness training, but it gives them the opportunity to learn the importance of fitness as it relates to the featured sport of the week.
During camp, athletes are taught proper weight training techniques along with how to do each exercise with correct form. Each day during the week alternates between cardio training, push exercises (leg presses, chest press, shoulder press, leg extensions, etc.) and pull exercises ( lateral pull downs, seated rows, leg curls, etc). Fitness staff supervises each session to monitor the athletes, volunteers, and counselors.
The Wawa Exercise and Wellness Center offers Special Olympics New Jersey athletes a safe and convenient place to learn the basics of fitness in a space where they can be themselves, feel comfortable and confident. The athletes are able to explore their capabilities and strengths individually or with a fellow training partner, in new ways they may not have experience before. “it makes me feel good,” said Camp Shriver camper and Special Olympics New Jersey Athlete, “I want to get back in shape again and feel healthy.”
Physical and mental benefits also come along with fitness. Motor development skills are improved, along with cardiovascular endurance; physical strength and potential weight loss are physical benefits that continued use of the Wawa Exercise and Wellness Center fitness Center can result in. Being in such an environment with athletes similar to each other also improves social interaction, builds self-esteem, improves focus and functionality, reduces anxiety and allows for a release of positive energy. At the fitness center, it is our goal to make sure athletes are having fun while getting fit and continually challenging themselves and improving towards a better quality of life. Sean Reese, also a Camp Shriver participant and SONJ athlete, says he enjoys the fitness center “Because we work hard and get healthy and stronger.”
The fitness center hours are Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday from 5:00-8:00pm & Saturdays from 10:00AM – 2:00PM – (noting though that the fitness center will be closed from August 18th – through September 2nd – re-opening on Tuesday, September 3rd).