Overlooking Blenkinsop Lake to its northeast, there’s no denying the campus around St. Margaret’s School is picturesque.
Trails and nature abound. Ironically, until this month a central courtyard near the school’s main entrance went unused.
That space is now a 1,200-square-foot open-air yoga and workout space.
“It was a dead space that we’ve brought to life,” said Cathy Thornicroft, St. Margaret’s head of school. “It’s sheltered, there’s no limit to how often we can use this. Classes can wheel the spin bikes out here anytime.”
In total, St. Margaret’s expanded and renovated the outside space and two new spaces inside as its athletics and wellness centre. One space is for weights and one for spin bikes. There’s also a mezzanine overlooking the small gymnasium with enough space for three ergometer rowing machines.
“We’ve doubled our internal training area, and tripled it if you include the outdoor space,” Thornicroft said.
A living wall now greets students and visitors as they enter the gymnasium while providing a hint of privacy to those practising outdoor yoga.
The project was in line with the school’s goal to provide positive experience in physical education and to encourage long-term healthy habits.
The expanded centre boasts contemporary glass structures to bring in natural light, as well as new equipment.
Motivational quotes float across a series of mural images of Strathcona Park, which is part of the school’s annual Outdoor Week.
All of our middle school students spend four days at Strathcona Park during Outdoor Week in the fall, and this will help reconnect them with their time there, a time spent in nature,” Thornicroft said.
It’s the most significant upgrade for SMS, an all-girls day and boarding school established in 1908. Earlier in 2015 the school renamed its science wing after Francis Kelsey, the alumnus who recently passed away but not without receiving a long overdue Order of Canada award for her work keeping Thalidomide out of the U.S. pharmaceutical system.
St. Margaret’s new fitness and wellness space isn’t just for students. Staff and parents will have access to the equipment either through after-school classes or training hours for school families.