Tomorrow I will be at Kentwood Elementary School in Los Angeles with
Governor Schwarzenegger and some of California’s finest educators to
discuss the work I have done for the Governor’s Council on Physical
Fitness & Sports.  We will announce that in 2010 we’ve already
signed up a record 1 million more Californians to take the Governor’s
Physical Fitness Challenge, and that thanks to Coca-Cola, eight new
schools are being awarded fitness centers.  

This is not about politics, it is about children.  Over the past five
years, I have seen what is possible when parents, educators,
officeholders, and community members join together and support our kids.

We launched the Governor’s Fitness Challenge in 2006, and encouraged
California’s kids to get off the couch or computer chair and get some
exercise: 30-60 minutes, every other day for a month.  Those of us who
exercise know that even 30 minutes can do wonders to refresh the mind
and body, prevent obesity, or just give us the chance to clear our

In 2006, we had 10,000 participants in the challenge.  In 2007, we
enlisted 70,000 more.  The next year it was an additional 158,000, and
last year 339,000.  This year, we have already signed up another
MILLION Californians.  Not since the Kennedy Administration have
Americans been so inspired by a call to fitness.

Since 2006, I have made thousands of phone calls and face-to-face pleas
with potential supporters. I often run into opposition, whether it’s
out of partisanship or just disinterest, and I always try to show them
that this is a worthwhile cause for anyone with a passion for our kids.

One of the first fitness centers we dedicated was at a school that
initially was not receptive.  When the Principal brought up the
possibility of a fitness center, the teachers said the school didn’t
have time for it, that we should just forget about making a change
there.  But once we got the kids to start coming in before school to
exercise to music, the teachers ended up doing a giant 180. The kids
were much more focused and alert in the classroom, and their test
scores went up.

These teachers saw what any runner, dancer, or lacrosse player will
attest to: exercise is great for the mind.  When students are healthy,
they are more likely to come to class and be alert and focused.  The
educators we work with are reporting higher test scores, better
behavior, and increased classroom participation.

All of our funding comes from the private sector, not state coffers.
This is terrific for the people of California, and all the more reason
why everyone should support what we are doing.

I am particularly excited about Coca-Cola’s involvement.  Many have
highlighted the link between sugary sodas and obesity, and because of
this, California schools no longer sell them in cafeterias.  That is a
good thing, but as the chairman of the Governor’s Council, I did not
want the world’s most recognizable company to be excluded from our
movement-I wanted them to be part of it.  So I went to Coke to ask for
their help.  And they have exceeded my biggest expectations by funding
these eight new state-of-the-art fitness centers.  It’s only when we
work together that we can accomplish big things, and I can’t thank Coke
enough for joining our team.

Not only will these new fitness centers get kids more active, they will
bring in the community.  We encourage schools to open them up during
the weekends and summers, and we have seen community members take
initiative and start up clubs.  There is incredible value in adults
being role models, and we are seeing an upwards spiral where kids,
parents, grandparents, and teachers all take the Challenge.

Californians are fortunate to have a Governor who believes in good
health and doing the right thing for our children.  I hope our next
governor has the same can-do spirit and enthusiasm for fitness, and I
want to make sure we hand the baton to whoever that is so this crucial
program keeps rolling along.  

The strength of our country lies in the next generation.  By teaching
our kids to live healthy lives, we are making a difference with the
next generation of policemen, soldiers, doctors, and teachers.  No
matter what party you belong to or what candidates you vote for, this
is something that you can support.  There are no ulterior motives, it
is just a movement of people who want to see America’s children, our
most precious resource, reach their full potential.

Please join us in putting our kids first. We cannot quit-on ourselves, on our families, or on this great state.

Jake Steinfeld serves as Chairman of the California Governor’s
Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.  To take the challenge, visit