Gateway believes in activities that get students up and moving, blood flowing, and brains turned on. Movement is a force for good:  it primes the pump for learning, healing and success. 

Thinking Outside The Gym

Targeted movement has been integrated into every aspect of Gateway’s approach. We weave it into our academic schedule by beginning the morning with a fitness class to prime the brain and scheduling the most challenging classes immediately following.

We incorporate yoga classes in the morning to support therapeutic efforts to reduce anxiety, depression, distractibility and stress. We continue and solidify therapeutic gains on the weekend by incorporating physical activities as diverse as hiking, snowshoeing, climbing, bouldering, skiing and paddling.

The reason we’ve centered our approach uniquely and intentionally on movement is based on emerging new discoveries in neuroscience.  Increasingly, it is clear that exercise and movement, performed at specific times, optimizes learning and healing, calms and regulates emotion, and improves health and self-esteem.

Spark New Thinking

The Sparks approach is based on neuroscientific research by Dr. John Ratey, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Ratey found that movement and exercise “supercharges” our mental circuits, enabling us to grasp information more easily and retain it longer. While targeted exercise sparks new brain cells, movement and stimulation helps those cells grow, maximizing progress not just in the classroom, but in therapy as well. As a result, boys find themselves more open to expressing and resolving feelings, facilitating the healing process. Read more about how Gateway incorporates Sparks brain-based techniques across all of our programming here. 

“Movement accelerates the flow of key nutrients to the brain, which improves the ability to take in information, process it, remember it, and put it into context.” 

— Dr. John Ratey, M.D.

Fitness Vs. Sports

Unlike traditional academic settings that often overemphasize a team sports model of physical education, Gateway focuses on targeted fitness and participation instead. It’s the difference between competitive sports skill development — and working toward individual goals. It’s our goal to offer our students long-term tools for regulating their emotions and remaining calm and focused. The movement and fitness program we’ve created is intended not only to benefit boys while they are at Gateway, but also to pave the way for a lifetime of physical fitness, health and well-being.

Overall, Gateway's Sparks approach to fitness teaches each youth how to monitor and maintain their own health and emotional well being.  These lessons are then integrated into therapy to help them develop a healthy lifestyle.

  • Targeted movement that optimizes learning
  • Exercises for reducing stress and regulating emotions
  • Fitness and well-being as a way of life
  • Yoga, morning fitness, brain breaks, mindfulness

Rise And Shine all Day

Targeted fitness and yoga classes take place first thing every morning for one hour. Our fitness curriculum was developed based on the regimen outlined by Dr. Ratey in his ground-breaking research on exercise and the brain. Students use heart monitors during the class to recognize when they have hit their target heart rate and monitor how long they stay in the target range. Students chart their time on target each day.

Morning fitness primes the brain. Afternoon movement and learning activities re-engage the brain and focus the mind to alleviate stress. These “brain breaks” augment energy and attention throughout the day.  Explore A Day in His Life

"When I first got to Gateway I believed that Sparks was a waste of time. Now after being here, I realize that exercise in the morning before school helps me focus and motivates me. I also like to be able to take Sparks breaks in school so  I get back to what I was working on, and that is what Sparks does."

—Gateway student

“A huge component I’ve taken from yoga is coming back to my breath. Stopping to breathe is super-important. Yoga has helped me bring myself back after losing myself to stress or frustration, and that is a reward to others, but most importantly, to myself.”

—Gateway student

"Spark breaks help with my attention span. I find that if I do a Sparks break in between exercises, I am able to come at the next question with a refreshed point of view. If I do not do this I have trouble concentrating."

—Gateway student