Students and teachers have quickly begun using a recent shipment of 171 state-of-the-art rowing machines delivered as part of a $1 million grant to create innovative fitness centers at local high schools. The Long Beach Unified School District is the first school district in the nation to obtain such quantities of these high-tech machines that improve aerobic capacity, muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. “This is cutting edge physical education,” said Joan Van Blom, physical education curriculum leader for the school district. “It’s a big step toward increasing student participation in vigorous physical activity.” Van Blom is an Olympic medalist in rowing and holds the indoor rowing world record for her age and weight category. Millikan, Cabrillo, Jordan and Wilson high schools received the machines this year, with Lakewood, Renaissance and Poly scheduled to receive the devices during the next two years under the three-year, federal grant. The grant also pays for training to help physical education teachers incorporate the machines into their instruction. The machines include computer screens that allow students to monitor their performance so they can meet fitness goals as specified by state standards. Several middle and K-8 schools also have incorporated the machines into their instruction using school-site funds, including Bancroft, Cubberley, DeMille, Franklin, Hamilton, Hill, Hoover, Jefferson, Lindbergh, Marshall, Robinson, Rogers and Stanford.