HAVERHILL — From new exercise bikes and treadmills to free weights and other muscle-building equipment, Haverhill High School’s weight-training room will get an overhaul and become a modern fitness center.
School officials said the center, located in the Charles C. White Pool building on the high school’s renovated campus, is undergoing renovations as a result of damages caused by a leaky roof. A big part of the plan involves replacing the old exercise equipment with new equipment — and a lot more of it.
For student-athletes, those taking physical education classes and others who are expected to use the center, finding the right equipment to fit their needs should become easier than ever, students said.
“Games are won and lost in the off-season, so spending time in a new, more advanced weight room will help me and many others achieve our goals,” said Josh Dion, a Haverhill High junior.
“Our athletic programs are improving each year, and I believe this weight room will help many of us get to the next level,” said senior Jackie Solomine.
The students have local businessman Ernie DiBurro to thank for the new equipment.
The equipment is expected to cost between $70,000 and $90,000, and DiBurro has promised to pay the cost so that students have access to new and more types of exercise equipment than they currently have.
School Superintendent James Scully said DiBurro, longtime owner of the local Academy Lanes bowling complex, donated significant amounts of money to the high school in the past, including last year when he gave money for a compete overhaul of the entrance to the high school’s athletic field. The work included the installation of towering brick and concrete columns, a massive steel gate and a paved walkway. DiBurro, a member of the Haverhill High Class of 1952, helped oversee renovations to the high school that resulted in a modern campus.
“Once again, Ernie DiBurro stepped up to replace the equipment,” Scully said. “He’s going to pay to replace all of the equipment and get the weight room in shape for not only our football team, but also our physical education classes and other teams for which weight training is important.”
Scully said the current fitness equipment is 20 years old, out of date and that half of it doesn’t work.
“It’s been further compromised by the roof that was leaking for a number of years,” he said.
Scully said the roof of the pool building was fixed using insurance money, and now other renovations are underway, including to the building’s lobby.
Scully said Mayor James Fiorentini worked with him to ensure the insurance money for the water damage was used to fix the building’s structural issues.
DiBurro’s donation will have a direct impact on students who play high school sports as well as those taking physical education classes, Scully said.
Junior John Ramsdell said the weight room is very important to the success of the football team.
“As a player that’s been here for three years, it has always been tough trying to get players into the gym and a lot of excuses would be that they have their own gyms,” Ramsdell said. “The little things matter and games are won in the off season. A huge thanks to Mr. DiBurro.”
Dion called the weight room a “symbol of success.”
“Spending time in a new more advanced weight room will help me and other student-athletes achieve our goals,” he said. “All of this could not be accomplished without the generosity of Mr. Ernie DiBurro.”
Although it was long referred to as a weight room, the space will be transformed into a true fitness center offering aerobics and well as strength-conditioning equipment, Athletic Director Tom O’Brien said. New lighting will be installed, along with a raised platform to separate the aerobics equipment from the weights.
“It will be a state-of-the-art fitness center, like you’d find at a gym people pay to go to, and will include free weights, cardio, universal equipment ... everything,” O’Brien said. “And it will be able to be utilized by a variety of groups.”
Elizabeth Faircloth, a Haverhill High senior, said that as a three-season runner she spends a lot of time on weight training and fitness.
“A new facility will make this space even more productive for many athletes for years to come,” Faircloth said.
Senior Molly Hoopes said DiBurro wants all Haverhill High students to have access to the best facilities.
“He is truly a generous man,” she said.
Scully said that when school lets out for the summer, the old fitness equipment will be removed and the new equipment will be installed.
“The kids of Haverhill deserve the best,” Scully said. “I’m very grateful to Mr. DiBurro and others who have stepped forward to help us.”