‘Extreme Makeover’ weight room edition at Anderson Preparatory Academy

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ANDERSON, Ind.—It was an extreme makeover, weight room edition.

The students and staff at Anderson Preparatory Academy won an unexpected surprise last spring, when the non-profit branch of Bodybuilding.com, the Lift Life Foundation, gifted them a roughly $300,000 weight room renovation.

“We were like—‘no, are you kidding?’” explained Jill Barker, Commandant at Anderson Preparatory, “I just started crying.”

Little did Commandant Barker know, but some of the coaches and staff had stumbled upon the Lift Life Foundation’s nation-wide competition to transform weight rooms at underfunded high schools.

Major Jeffery Dorman was among the staff that made their submission video, interviewed students, and showcased some of the makeshift equipment they were using; like sand-filled kegs, and deflated tires for belting.

Commandant Barker says oftentimes weight room and other fitness programs fall at the bottom of the list when it comes to distributing the budget, and as a result, the weight room has suffered.

Anderson Preparatory Academy is a military style school for young men and women, with a focus on college prep. The school is tuition-free and open to any student in the state of Indiana, and as such, doesn’t receive the same levels of funding as traditional public schools.

“Obviously Anderson has been hit hard, and our kids are no exception,” added Barker, “I’ve seen the personal struggles that our kids have gone through, their families have gone through, and for a company to come in like Bodybuilding.com and the Lift Life Foundation to do this for my kids…It was one of those—I’m still in shock like when I walk in here, I still have that moment like ‘am I in the right place?’”

Between April 3rd and April 27th, the Lift Life Foundation came in and completely redid Anderson Preparatory Academy’s weight room.

“The word they use most often on HGTV is ‘complete transformation.’ And that’s what it actually is, a complete extreme makeover for our weight room,” said Anderson Preparatory athletic Director, David Bradford, “it went from not very good at all to something you’re proud to be in and work in.

Bradford says the new weight room has the type of equipment and space that the athletic department budget could never before; and students will be able to use it for physical education in addition to ROTC physical training.

“I think it’s going to have huge benefits for us,” Bradford added, “us being a charter school, one of the things we don’t’ get capital projects money from the state like the other schools do.”

Now three times the size, the new facility has 130,000 pounds of equipment and is valued at roughly $300,000.

“The things we’re able to do compared to our last weight room—it was small, had used up stuff, we just had to make use, and now we have all of this,” said rising junior, Ladonus McClendon.

“It’s really a blessing in disguise that we got from Lift Life and bodybuilding,” said Anderson Preparatory senior, Kyle Richardson.

Richardson plays football, soccer, track and basketball at the school. In the old weight room, Richardson said student athletes would have to improvise with what little equipment they had in order to get a decent workout in. Now, Richardson said that has changed.

“It went beyond my expectations. It was beautiful. I almost cried a little bit when I walked in, it was so amazing.”

Anderson Preparatory Academy is the third weight room transformation done by the Lift Life Foundation.