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Police gym packs a punch

Beginning Wednesday, officers in the Baltimore Police Department’s Southeastern District will have a new workplace perk.

Lt. Brian E. Pearson (left), shift commander of the Baltimore Police Department’s Southeastern District, and the district commander, Major William Davis, show off the heavy bag that is part of a new fitness center with almost 36 pieces of exercise equipment.

A 2,500-square-foot fitness training center is set to open as part of a renovation of the station house, located at 5710 Eastern Ave.

The center cost $350,000 and was financed through private donations. It contains nearly three dozen state-of-the-art exercise machines, including ellipticals, speed bikes, leg presses and lifting benches.

“The center gives them a way to relieve stress and improve themselves,” said Lt. Brian E. Pearson, shift commander of the Southeastern District, who spearheaded the drive to build the center.

Pearson said planning for the training center began more than two years ago. It will be open 24/7 and will serve the 200 officers and employees at the district — as well as local firefighters, who are also welcome to use it.

The center also includes a new break room for officers in the district that resembles a gourmet kitchen.

Pearson said the addition of the center at the district “sends a message that they are cared about.”

“It’s not just physical but their total well-being, mind, body and soul,” he said. “When you work out, endorphins are released in the brain, you become more productive on the street and more proactive. More officers will be going the extra mile for the community and they will be healthier.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts are expected to help dedicate the training center Wednesday.

The list of business leaders who lent financial support to the project includes former Under Armour Inc. executive Scott Plank, who retired in 2012 from the athletic apparel corporation in Locust Point that his brother founded, to focus on real estate development and philanthropy.

Plank donated a six-figure check to the Southeastern District’s center through his charity, War Horse LLC. He did not return a request for comment on Tuesday.

He also made a financial donation to help open a similar training facility at the Northern District.

Pearson said he expects dozens of officers to begin workouts at the training center daily. The results, he added, will be positive.

“When you have an officer that feels appreciated and cared for, they will take extra time and on the street and it will be a better Baltimore,” he said.