The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

Sweat, Dedication, and Dreams: The Heart of Punahou’s Weight Room

Melchi Goldfarb ’25

Every day, Punahou’s weight room is filled with sports teams and individual students trying to build strength and better themselves. Are these students in the off season of a sport, or do they have personal goals of coming to the gym? What motivates Punahou students to “hit the racks” during the school day?  


Aaron Mendoza, known as Coach Aaron to students, is the head strength and conditioning coach of the athletics department and oversees the weight room. Having a background in kinesiology, Coach Aaron is very knowledgeable about how the body works and which exercises will keep the body healthy and strong – he programs workouts for Punahou’s 100+ athletic teams, and is passionate about helping students succeed.


In high school, Coach Aaron trained in karate and played football. Following a collarbone injury his senior year, he was devastated that his life as an athlete would end. However, his injury allowed him to discover his passion for supporting younger students in their athletic endeavors.  This is when he fell in love with coaching. 


For athletes, Coach Aaron says that weight training is the best way to prevent injury. He explained, “The training is designed to keep you healthy … so that you are available to your coach. The best ability is availability.”


According to Coach Aaron, there are lots of benefits of going to the gym for any student, whether or not they participate in sports. He explained that training will help both mentally and physically:  “There is nothing wrong with being strong … When you get a good workout in, you will walk out the gym feeling like you can conquer the world.”


“Our weight room is probably the best weight room in the state,” Coach Aaron proudly stated. He pointed out that the American Olympic swim team actually made use of Punahou’s weight room in preparing for the Olympics. The weight room offers seven lifting platforms with state of the art Sorinex racks and machines, a dumbbell rack, and a turf area for various forms of training. At the racks, you can train major compound movements like squat, bench, and deadlift, while the machines allow for more specific exercises. Coach Aaron personally trains at the weight room four to five times a week and is exceptionally strong.


Jason Miyamoto ‘25, also commonly known as “The Joker,” works out at the weight room nearly every day. Having a background in a variety of physical activities such as soccer, basketball, football, airsoft, and hip-hop dance, he has an elaborate understanding of fitness. After entering high school, he quickly fell in love with the Punahou gym. 


“After two months, [lifting weights] became a habit,” he said. “I really liked it, and it keeps me going.” 


Expressing his motivations for working out he shared, “I want to stay active, strengthen my body, increase my body awareness, and improve my overall health.” Working out in the weight room at a high intensity level challenges Jason to improve both physically and mentally. 


Charlie Murdock ‘25 is another frequent gym-goer. Charlie has a background in running, soccer, and paddling. However, he is currently committed to paddling. His motivations for working out in the gym include off-season training for paddling, training for an aesthetic physique, and for maintaining a strong, healthy body. 


“Working out has helped my self-confidence tremendously,” Murdock ‘25 said.


The weight room might seem intimidating at first, but it is a safe place for students to achieve their fitness goals. Miyamoto and Murdock ‘25 both praised the supportive and judgment-free atmosphere of the gym, and encouraged other students to give training a try. 


Miyamoto ‘25 said, “looking at it, you might think Coach Aaron is a little scary, but once you get to know him he is really nice and always willing to help you.” 


Murdock ‘25 explained, “We were all beginners at one point, we have all been there, so don’t feel ashamed if you don’t know how to do an exercise.” 

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