Jason Lee wins $100,000 DON'T QUIT fitness center

10/19/2016 | TACOMA, Washington

Jason Lee Middle School students can now cycle, chest press and jump on state-of-the-art fitness equipment thanks to winning a $100,000 grant from the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils. 

Governor Jay Inslee and Jake Steinfeld, chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Council, visited Jason Lee on Tuesday for the DON’T QUIT fitness center grand opening. Students cheered, gave high-fives and danced to the song “Happy” as Gov. Inslee and Steinfeld entered the auditorium to talk about the positive link between physical fitness and learning. 

​Jake Steinfeld and Gov. Jay Inslee visit Jason Lee Middle School for the
grand opening of the DON'T QUIT fitness center.
​ ​​​
When kids get fit, they get smart,” said Gov. Inslee, whose father was a physical education teacher. 

Jason Lee won the grant due to the innovative ways it promotes student physical activity and wellness. The school runs a summer academy combining physical activities with academic studies and next school year will open Thrive, a school-within-a-school focused on physical fitness innovation, nutrition and healthy living to improve student achievement. 

Results from the Jason Lee Summer Academy and academic research shows physical exercise improves academic achievement and focus, reduces discipline problems and increases confidence and self-esteem.

“When you have confidence and self-esteem, you can achieve anything you want in your life,” said Steinman— a fitness instructor known for the television show “Body by Jake”— whose life transformed after his dad gave him a set of weights. 

“I’m excited because it means we don’t have to drive all the way across town to go to the YMCA to work out, said Emily Dean, a seventh-grade student whose favorite machine in the new fitness center is the functional trainer— a strength-training machine where students learn about working specific muscle groups. 

“Usually when I play sports I play soccer,” Emily said. “It’s something to take my mind off what’s happening in school and my life…When I go back to class I just cleared my head, and then I can focus on math and science and anything else I need to work on.”

Jason Lee eighth-grade student Katie Herron said that “I’m really tired during the day, so when I work out it wakes me up and makes me focus.”

The DON’T QUIT fitness center at Jason Lee includes dozens of machines such as stationary bikes, jumping boxes and equipment for students to learn how to do chest presses, shoulder presses, leg curls, pectoral flys and sit ups. TuffStuff Fitness International provided all of the fitness equipment.

Funding for the fitness center comes from a public-private partnership with companies such as The Coca-Cola Company, Amerigroup Foundation and Nike and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. 

​Sixth-grade student Jayden Cowper and physical education teacher Jennifer Moffett
work out with equipment in the new fitness center at Jason Lee.
​ ​​​​​​​​​The fitness center is “amazing,” said Jason Lee physical education teacher John Harkness. “This is a controlled environment with no free weights, but it gives students an idea of the muscle groups they’re working and some experience with weights,” he said. “It’s a confidence builder. Healthy bodies build healthy minds.” 

“I think it’s good because it will keep kids after school and they won’t be doing anything bad because they can be here working out,” said seventh-grade student Marisa Wiese. 

The fitness center will open for students during physical education classes and after school.

Jason Lee was one of three Washington schools selected as a National Fitness Champion and recipient of the fitness center. The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils has sponsored fitness centers in 15 states since 2012 and expects to cover all 50 states in the coming years.

For more information about Thrive at Jason Lee, visit www.ThriveTacoma.org. Thrive will welcome sixth grade students beginning in the 2017-2018 school year and currently seeks applicants— from the elementary schools that feed into Jason Lee— who are motivated, independent thinkers interested in exploring new ways of learning. 

The fitness center at Jason Lee and the new Thrive program create well-rounded, successful learners, said Principal Christine Brandt.

“Our goal is not to come in and make an Olympic athlete or the best soccer player or anything of that nature. It’s about being the most healthy, whole person in your life,” she said. “It’s a balance of your social, your emotional well-being, your academics and your physical activity and that’s what makes a well-rounded person.”