Asbury Park Middle School students now have a new, modern fitness facility at their disposal.
Governor Christopher Christie [shown above, center] and Jake Steinfeld[at left], Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness and founder of Body by Jake, were on hand at the middle school Monday to cut the ribbon on the brand new facility and offer a packed auditorium of students words of encouragement.
“I was an overweight kid with a bad stutter, growing up,” said Steinfeld to the students gathered in the auditorium, “my dad bought me a set of weights when I was 13-years-old and it changed my life because not only did the weights build my body, they built my confidence and self-esteem.”
Exercise provides ways for youngsters to burn off some of their extra energy, stay healthy and stay focused, according to Steinfeld.
“It’s pretty amazing — no question,” said Christie, standing in the new center as student ambassadors demonstrated how to use the equipment, moments after he helped cut the ribbon in the hallway just outside of the room.
The $100,000 “Live Positively Fitness Center” is provided by the National Champion Schools campaign and made possible through financial support from The Coca-Cola Company and Tough Stuff Fitness Equipment.
The facility features dozens of strength training and cardiovascular exercise machines, from pull-up benches to core training equipment and treadmills, along with two Xbox live Kinetic Adventure stations [photo at right]. The Kinetic Adventure stations track students’ movements by visual sensors, which allow them to play video games while keeping their bodies in motion.
The middle school is one of three schools in the state, and one of 12 in the country, to receive a Live Positively fitness center, Steinfeld said. Schools in Roselle and Jersey City were also provided with similar fitness centers. As chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness, Steindfeld’s organization looks for schools that show innovation and promise.
“What I love about your school is that it is a real community,” Steinfeld said.
The National Champion Schools were selected by a panel of leading experts in the fields of sports, physical education, medical science and business for their ability to demonstrate an interest in promoting student physical activity and health, according to a press release from the school district.
“All three of these schools are going to really be helped by having these state-of-the-art fitness centers, for you to use and for your family to use,” Christie said. “I’m very proud of what’s happening here in Asbury Park.”
Christie was contacted by Steinfeld about the idea to install the facility in the months after Hurricane Sandy. Steinfeld was able to secure corporate sponsorship through the Coca-Cola company and an in-kind donation from ToughStuff fitness equipment to assist in the realization of the center.
“When you get a cold call from Jake, it doesn’t stay cold very long – he heats things pretty quickly in the conversation,” Christie said. In a “tough school district” like Asbury Park, the fitness center is a welcome addition and will be “inspirational” to students, he said later.
The Coca-Cola organization operates on the theory of the “golden triangle,” wherein businesses join in partnerships with government and civil society to collaborate on solutions that need to be accomplished in communities, said Steve Cahillane [shown above, at right], president of Coca-Cola Americas.
“It’s an investment in your future that we are celebrating today,” Cahillane said.
Governor Chris Christie acknowledged the importance of being fit, and what a healthy physical lifestyle adds to the body’s overall holistic health.
“On the mornings I work out, I know I’m much better than I am on the mornings when I don’t,” Christie said to students, “and I know you’ll find the same thing.”
Besides the opportunity for students to use the facility in their physical education classes, they will soon be able to put in a workout in the morning and after school, said Antonio Lewis, middle school principal. Future plans for the facility include the addition of night hours so that parents can work out with their kids. The new facility replaced a curriculum coaching room for state mandatory testing, he said.
“My head is just swirling,” said Lewis. “Many kids are self-conscious about their size, and the school’s newest addition will give educators the ability to reinforce the diet and nutrition lessons they learn in health and science classes.”
Asbury Park middle school kids now have a leg up in the fight against juvenile diabetes and obesity, said Walter Barrett, athletics liaison for the school district.
“It promotes that positive body-mind connection,” said school board member Nicolle Harris.
Eighth-grader Anthony Fraser appreciates the fact that the room is air-conditioned, and is excited to use the Kinetic Adventure stations.
“It’s a great place to lose weight and build muscle,” he said.
“Just gaze around the room,” said school board President Angela Ahbez-Anderson. “See their faces? They are so excited — this is an awesome step in the right direction.”