Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 19, 2013

A positive fit at Southside

Nationally known fitness expert goes to War to fight youth obesity

by BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WAR — The Southside Spartans’ cheerleader squad spent the past 10 days working up a special cheer to welcome nationally known fitness expert, Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld to their school. The squad performed that routine Wednesday afternoon.

“I liked our round-off,” Savannah Blair, squad co-captain said.

“I liked what we did with arms,” Kaylee Muncy, the other Spartans squad co-captain said.

“Our heart is with the children,” Florisha Christian McGuire, principal of Southside K-8 said at the assembly welcoming Steinfeld. “We want them to have something positive in their lives.”

McGuire said that the idea of a community center for young people in the War area was part of the late Mayor Tom Hatcher’s “vision” for the community. “I hope he knows, and I hope he’s proud,” McGuire said. “We very much believe that children have to be healthy and safe.”

Steinfeld appeared to be absolutely thrilled about being in War to cut the ribbon on the first of three $100,000 Live Positively Fitness Centers in West Virginia. The second will officially open today at Stratton Elementary School in Beckley at 10 a.m.

“It is an honor to be here in War,” Steinfeld said. “How are we doing, Southside!” he shouted, receiving an enthusiastic response from the students.

He said that looking at the students reminded him of his own middle school years in Brooklyn, N.Y. He said that when he was in middle school, he had a speech impediment. “When I was 13, my dad bought me a set of weights, and it changed my life.” He said that weight lifting gave him confidence, and he moved to California to try to become a Mister America. However, he chose not to use steroids to build muscle, and instead, concentrated on fitness.

“We all have moments,” Steinfeld said. “I made a decision that I didn’t want to use steroids.” As a result of emphasizing fitness and exercise, he became a personal trainer. He said that he learned a lot about his celebrity clients like Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and Madonna. “They’re just like us,” he said. “They had a dream and worked for it.”

He encouraged the Southside students to “take control of your own destiny.” He said that no public funds were spent on the fitness center. He said “Coca-Cola stepped up,” along with other private sector contributors to make the center possible. “You are our future,” he said, adding that young people “are the greatest resource this county has.” He mentioned that he was aware of the challenges that War and the region have experienced, but added: “We are going to win this war on obesity,” he said. He said the Live Positively Fitness Center in War is the 90th center he has opened nationally.

Harold McBride spoke on behalf of the McDowell County Commission. He said that his father is 90 years old and in good health. As he was helping his dad work on his tractor, the elder Mr. McBride remarked: “If you’re going to build that church, you’ve got to start with young people,” he said quoting his father. He said that the fitness center in War, “is also about helping us rebuild McDowell County.”

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said that when Steinfeld called his office earlier this year in March, and his secretary told him that she had Steinfeld on the line, his response was: “Sure you do. Why would Body by Jake call me?” The fitness centers were awarded by the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils — a council that Steinfeld chairs — and were awarded to schools that have developed innovative ways to promote physical activity and wellness.

Tomblin said that he asked Steinfeld what the catch was, and Steinfeld responded that the only request was for the governor to attend one of the fitness center ribbon cutting ceremonies. Tomblin told Steinfeld that he would attend all three. “I’m just honored to be here,” Tomblin said.

After the assembly, students and dignitaries gathered in front of the old Big Creek High School gymnasium to cut the ribbon for the opening. After Steinfeld cut the ribbon, the young students flooded inside the center to the second floor where all the exercise equipment is located. Steinfeld walked around to the young students to give them tips on maximizing their exercise efforts and to smile at the way the young people of Southside K-8 worked out.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com