Education

‘Don’t Quit!’ Fitness Center Opens at Liberty School

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Mya Brown keeps busy. The 7th grader at W. S. Guy Middle School, who participates in cheerleading, mixed martial arts and soccer, moved from station to station Monday in the new Don’t Quit! fitness center at the Liberty Local Schools campus.

“It’s awesome. I wish we would have it sooner, though,” she remarked.

Brown was among the students who tried out the new $100,000 fitness center for students at the middle school and E.J. Bott Elementary School following Monday’s ribbon cutting.

The fitness center was provided by the National Foundation for the Governors’ Fitness Councils, launched four years ago by fitness guru Jake Steinfeld to put fitness centers in elementary and middle schools. Sponsors included the Coca Cola Co., Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Nike and Tuff Stuff Fitness International.

Steinfeld, chairman and CEO of Body by Jake Global, told students at the Liberty High School auditorium that he was a “chubby kid” growing up. His father bought him a set of weights at age 13. Not only did working out start to build his body but also his confidence and self esteem.

“Academics and fitness go hand in hand. When you exercise you feel good about yourself. If you feel good about yourself, you have more confidence and self esteem,” he said.

“When you take tests, you’re less fidgety. If you’re less fidgety, you’re more focused. If you’re more focused, you do better on your tests,” he continued. Youths who exercise also are less likely to smoke a cigarette, take a drug or join a gang, he added.

The Liberty center is the first of three being announced in Ohio. Schools were invited to submit applications or videos to the foundation to tell why they deserved one of the centers.

“We choose the schools based on a number of things,” Steinfeld said. “We look at the community. We look at the teachers. We look at the student body. We look at the education, the academics, the fitness of what they’re are doing and the excitement that the kids and the people have for a brand-new fitness center.”

Initially the center will be open for 4th grade through 8th grade students as well as possibly 3rd graders, Melissa Malone, principal at Guy Middle School, said. There is a possibility of opening it to the general public once the logistics are worked out, she added.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Malone remarked. “To finally have it open – the kids are all excited and we’re ready to use it.”

The effort started with a call to Gov. John Kasich, Steinfeld said. The governor returned his call within 24 hours, he said. “I couldn’t have done it if the governor wouldn’t pick up the phone.”

Kasich, who joined foundation and school officials for the ribbon cutting, deflected credit for the center to the school’s effort. “All I did was make a phone call, no big deal,” he remarked.

Steinfeld is “putting other people first,” Kasich said. “He’s living a life that’s a little bit bigger than he has to live.”

The governor also discussed the illegal drug epidemic. “There are so many people in our country today who are dying of drugs,” he said. Ohio is “a leader in the country” in efforts to keep people off drugs or provide resources for treatment, he said.

“We lost almost a generation of people who looked at pain medication in a casual way, including those that are prescribed,” he said. “We’re making progress, but it’s tough.”

Pictured: Mya Brown works out on equipment in the new Don’t Quit! Fitness center.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.