There's a new, state-of-the-art fitness center at the local middle school and it didn't cost the district or patrons a dime. Neosho Middle School is one of three schools in Missouri to receive a $100,000 Don't Quit! Fitness Center from the National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Council. The fitness center, located within the middle school and adjacent to the gym, was provided as a gift from fitness celebrity Jake "Body by Jake" Steinfeld who is the chairman for the council.
"This is the 30th state that we've done," Steinfeld said on Wednesday. Long range plans call for each state to be included in the program. "Each year, we choose four states and we do it very simply. We call governors cold. We identify different governors of different states. We look at these different governors and we looked at your governor."
Missouri Governor Mike Parson along with First Lady Teresa Parson were in Neosho for the ribbon cutting of the fitness center.
"He's a family guy, loves kids, an Army veteran, loves community, loves education," Steinfeld said. "I looked at him and thought, this is our kind of guy."
Steinfeld phoned Parson and liked the governor's response.
"What do we have to do to get these fitness centers?" Parson asked. "Let's go."
Each Missouri school district was eligible to submit a video from a school that highlighted the school's leadership and their students' commitment to fitness. Eighty districts responded including Neosho Middle School. The video submitted by Charity Williams, principal, convinced Steinfeld that Neosho Middle School would receive a fitness center.
Three districts were selected to receive a $100,000 Don't Quit Fitness Center from Steinfeld's foundation. The other schools are Premier Charter School in St. Louis and West County Middle School in Park Hills.
"When Jake called me at the Capitol, it was early on when I first became governor," Parson said. "I receive thousands of calls but our calls came together and I'm going to say, it was just meant to be."
The fitness centers are a partnership between the National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils and companies that include Coca-Cola, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Wheels Up and Nike. TuffStuff Fitness International provides all of the fitness equipment, which is made in the U.S.A. There's no reliance on taxpayer dollars or state funding.
"This isn't a grant, it's a gift," Steinfeld said. "We're in the gift giving business."
745 Neosho Middle School students along with staff, a few family members, community and business leaders and other special guests gathered in the gymnasium for a pep assembly.
The Wildcat Singers choir performed as did the junior high school cheerleaders. A flag presentation was made by members of the Air Force Junior ROTC Corps from Neosho High School and the Wildcat Singers followed with The Star-Spangled Banner.
Neosho Middle School principal Charity Williams introduced the guests.
Both Steinfeld and the governor spoke to the students. Students joined in a rousing cheer for their school and for the new fitness center.
"I was an overweight kid," Steinfeld told the students. "I had a really bad stutter growing up. My dad bought me a set of weights when I was thirteen years old. Those weights changed my life. Not only did they build my body, they built my confidence and self-esteem."
Following the pep rally, a ribbon cutting was held with students, Steinfeld and Governor Parsons.
Students were then able to use the fitness equipment for the first time.
"I truly see the heart of public servants," Parson said. "It's about doing the right thing sometimes for people you'll never meet, never see. As governor, it's not so much about me anymore. It's about the future of our state, it's about our kids."
The eager smiles on the faces of the students and their enthusiasm were shared by school administrators, Steinfeld, and Governor Parson. Parson is the 57th governor in Missouri. Steinfeld is is one of the fitness industry’s reigning icons, responsible for creating the personal fitness training industry over 30 years ago. A street-smart entrepreneur, he continues to develop successful products, brands & businesses.
The National Foundation for Governor's Fitness Council's goal is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.