Students at South Allegheny middle and high schools now have $100,000 worth of new workout equipment that was provided through a grant from the National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils.
The gift, presented last week by Jake Steinfeld, chairman of the governors' fitness councils, was awarded based on an application made by South Allegheny physical education teacher Jason Beisler. Mr. Steinfeld, known for his "Body by Jake" workout equipment, works with private sponsors to raise the funds to award fitness centers to schools. Funding for the South Allegheny center was from the Coca-Cola Co.
Mr. Steinfeld appeared at the presentation with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.
South Allegheny Middle School was chosen as a National Champion School from among 300-400 schools based on Mr. Beisler's application, which described how the school has incorporated physical fitness into its entire curriculum by having students stretch in academic classes to stimulate their brains and dance the salsa in foreign language classes. Mr. Steinfeld said the school also switched its physical education curriculum to one that emphasizes "lifetime fitness."
During an assembly with the middle school students, Mr. Steinfeld explained that using the fitness equipment would not only strengthen students' bodies, but also improve their self-esteem and academic performance.
Mr. Steinfeld told the students he was "a fat kid with a really bad stutter growing up" in New York. But at age 13, his father bought him a set of weights. The weights not only gave him muscles but also a sense of confidence and power.
He said young people who work out are less likely to smoke, drink or do drugs, and that in school districts in California where his organization funded fitness centers, test scores are up and gang violence is down.
The governor said the point of the fitness center is to teach students fitness habits now that they can continue throughout their lives.
"We want to make sure students stay healthy as they grow up," Mr. Corbett said. He also said the new fitness center was a good example of the public and private sectors working together to provide resources for students.
After sitting through the speeches, the South Allegheny students were given a chance to try out the new equipment, which includes 43 pieces of machinery designed either for circuit training or cardio fitness. The new equipment fills an auxiliary gym that once housed free weight equipment.
Plans call for the center eventually to be open to the public.
South Allegheny is the fourth district in Pennsylvania to be awarded a fitness facility by Mr. Steinfeld's group. The others were in Berks County, Bradford County and Philadelphia.
Mary Niederberger: email@example.com or 412-263-1591.