by Monica Carazo
Office of Communications and Media Relations

It was not a routine day for students in P.E. at El Sereno Middle School and Magnet Center. Instead of the normal drills and walking around the track, the students were spinning, rowing and climbing with new equipment thanks to a grant from UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind and the Los Angeles Lakers organization.

From left, Lakers head coach Luke Walton, principal Joyce Dara and Local District East superintendent Jose Huerta and administrator of operations Al Webb cut the ribbon on a new fitness center at El Sereno Middle School.

The new state-of-the-art machines – including 27 spin bikes, three rowers, three steppers, jump ropes and agility ladders – are in a newly renovated workout room that used to house old, out-of-date equipment. The new fitness center will enhance the school’s physical education department, and the program’s curriculum will help promote healthy and active lifestyles.

“We are so grateful to UCLA and the Lakers organization for their dedication to fighting childhood obesity,”  said El Sereno principal Joyce Dara. “They are helping students learn the importance of physical fitness and health by providing this opportunity to schools like ours.”

Read more from Principal Dara at

The ribbon cutting ceremony featured a special guest, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton, who interacted with students, helping them to get accustomed to the new bikes and steppers.

“Today is an awesome day,” he said. “Sound Body changes people and children’s lives. It’s an amazing foundation. I feel good and special to be a part of this. The students and teachers at this school have an incredible spirit, and it’s been incredible to see how excited they are.”

El Sereno is one of 10 Los Angeles-area schools, including seven schools in L.A. Unified, to be receiving a new UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind fitness center this year.

Seventh grade class president Alondra Nava summed it up best.

“This is a big deal in our community,” she said. “With this new equipment we can practice living a healthy lifestyle and have better workout sessions.”