Franklin Weight Room, taken before first period. The benches and racks are modular and can be configured to exercise almost every part of the body. Photo by Donovan Selfridge.

Buried in the depths of the weekly newsletter, Franklin High School brought back a program known only to athletes and people who actually read emails: zero period weight training. This class provides a time where students can use the Franklin weight room before school starts under the watchful eye of Grady Holt-Seavy, a social studies teacher at Franklin. It’s open to anyone who wants to go, as long as they’re willing to do the exercises and get up early enough to be there at 7 a.m. 

The weight room is not one of the most popular places at Franklin. There was a weight room here before, but the current weight room was added as part of the remodel of Franklin due to the Portland School District Bond Measure of November 2012. This measure gave Portland Public Schools $482 million to renovate several schools, fix leaky roofs, add seismic safety measures and generally modernize them. Among these first schools to be upgraded were Grant, Roosevelt and Franklin. Construction began in May 2015, and was finished in Winter 2017. This upgrade included the construction of the athletic center, which brought a new gym, science classrooms, a culinary class kitchen, and a weight room. The current weight room features modular cages that can be modified for a variety of exercises, such as bench press and squats, and also includes handles for upper body calisthenics such as pull ups. There are mirrors on the wall so students can check their form, and a garage door that can be opened for airflow. All the equipment to perform a wide selection of exercises is available, but most of the time, only students in weight training classes and athletes conditioning for their respective sports could use them. But now, things are changing.

Zero period weightlifting is not a new idea. “I believe a few years ago, they were doing it consistently every morning,” remembers Holt-Seavy, a Franklin football coach who dedicates his mornings to supervising the class. “And then it kind of faded out for whatever reason.” This is confirmed by Sean Ford, a Franklin alum who graduated in 2014, “[I’m] not sure if it was called zero period, but you could go and workout before school [in the original weightroom],” Ford states. However, in January, the program started up again, and the news was sent out in the school newsletter on January 31. “I’ve been going since it started,” says a junior at Franklin who wishes to remain anonymous.  The junior also likes the early morning part of it. “I like that it fits everybody’s schedule. It’s easy to go in the morning, and yeah, it’s just convenient.” Every day at 7 a.m. kids show up and enter through a side door in the gym building. They then spend the next hour performing exercises planned out and demonstrated by Holt-Seavy. “I demonstrate the lift and make sure their form and everything is right.” Workouts consist of leg workouts and upper body workouts, and rotate on an A/B schedule. In order to take advantage of this program, students have to be at school an hour and a half earlier than usual, which is a deal breaker for a lot of people. “I know it’s a challenge for a lot of students to wake up that early,” says Holt-Seavy. “But I think … that it’s early in the morning, is an important part of it. Because part of it is the self discipline it takes to wake up at that time, making yourself … do something that’s a little out of your comfort zone.” 

Overall, zero period weight training is a convenient program that allows students to make use of the weight room before school when they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It promotes a healthy lifestyle and self discipline. “I love seeing the kids get stronger, and seeing them happy with the results,” concluded Holt-Seavy. So, If you’re looking to add some structure to your life and get some exercise before school, or if you’re training for a sport, zero period weight training may be a great resource for you.