“Academics and fitness go hand in hand,” actor and fitness pioneer Jake Steinfeld told an auditorium full of Derby Middle and High School students this morning. “When you’re in shape and exercising you’re less fidgety in class and more focused.”
Steinfeld was in Derby in his role as chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils to unveil a new $100,000 fitness center the foundation built at the high school.
Derby High was one of just three schools in Connecticut — the others are in Hartford and Meriden — to be awarded a fitness center. The Derby students are eager to begin using the new machines, which include strength training equipment, cardio fitness equipment, and interactive exercise games.
The high school and middle school in Derby share a campus, and students from both schools will be using the center during their physical education (PE) classes.
Middle school PE teacher James Rosa said, “The students are beyond excited. They’re chomping at the bit to get in here.”
Rosa said that the middle school has never had access to equipment like this before, and the high school only had free weights, which were used primarily by athletic teams.
The new fitness machines are safe and simple for students to use and don’t require as much training as free weights, Rosa said. “This center is for everyone. It doesn’t matter how fit they are.”
Rosa and high school PE teacher Eric O’Toole said they’re working on a schedule so that all of Derby’s secondary PE classes will have access to the center. Both teachers are thrilled and very grateful to have these new tools to incorporate into their lessons.
O’Toole said, “We’ve been gearing classes more toward fitness standards and making use of pre- and post-fitness tests. This center will only improve students’ overall fitness.”
He added, “We want students to be life-long learners of fitness, and this helps us help our students along that path.”
High school principal Greg Gaillard said the school hopes to eventually open the fitness center to allow the wider community to have access as well.
The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils works with state governors and has already built 22 fitness centers in eight states, with a goal of building centers in schools across all 50 states. The fitness centers are financed through a public/private sector partnership, and sponsors include Coca-Cola, AOL,The American College of Sports Medicine, and TuffStuff Fitness Equipment.
Steinfeld told the students, “I was a fat kid with a really bad stutter growing up. My dad bought me a set of weights when I was 13, and it built not just my body but my self-confidence and self-esteem.”
“We all have dreams,” he continued. “Everyone in this room has a dream. Exercise is not just about building bodies. If you believe in yourself, it will help you achieve what you want in your life.”