UCLA Sound Body Sound Mind opened first school fitness center since start of pandemic

The opening of first of five centers marked a return to growth of health program
Group of student and staff cutting a ribbon
Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Glendale on May 12, 2022 (Credit: Nick Carranza)

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Kelsie Sandoval

A UCLA Health program to enhance physical education throughout Los Angeles schools opened its first new school fitness center since the pandemic put openings on hold in March 2020. 

For over 20 years, Sound Body Sound Mind has provided under-resourced middle and high schools with new fitness centers, curriculums, and professional development for staff -- with the goal of boosting self-confidence and healthy lifestyles among kids in Los Angeles. The program has provided equipment to more than 145 middle and high schools and impacts over 180,000 students annually.   

To celebrate the first Sound Body Sound Mind fitness center openings in over two years, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on May 12, 2022, at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Glendale at 10 a.m. Four additional centers will open throughout May.   

“With students returning to school in person, these new fitness centers are poised to help reverse the effects of the sedentary lifestyle brought on by the pandemic,” said Johnese Spisso, President, UCLA Health, CEO, UCLA Hospital System and Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences.   

While new school fitness center openings were paused during the pandemic, UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind stayed hard at work supporting educators during remote learning and the eventual return to the classroom. During the pandemic, the program distributed home fitness kits, developed weekly remote learning digests and developed a new mindfulness curriculum.  

“When the pandemic started, we pivoted our work to ensure we were still supporting students and teachers in their new learning environment,” said Matthew Flesock, Executive Director of the Sound Body Sound Mind program. “Our work in getting students moving is more important than ever now as we come out of this pandemic. To be opening new fitness centers again is so special.”