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$100K fitness center opens at Berkmar Middle

Sandra Deal, Gov. Nathan Deal and Jake Steinfeld cut a ribbon on a new fitness center at Berkmar Middle School, funded through private partnerships through Steinfeld’s National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils.

Sandra Deal, Gov. Nathan Deal and Jake Steinfeld cut a ribbon on a new fitness center at Berkmar Middle School, funded through private partnerships through Steinfeld’s National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils.

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Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal talks to Berkmar Middle School students Arveniece McDonald and Ciara Peterkin, as they work out on new equipment from a fitness center from the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils.

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Students work out at a new $100,000 fitness center opened Monday as part of a National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils program to combat childhood obesity.

LILBURN — Jake Steinfeld used to be the fat kid in school, until his father bought him a set of weights at the age of 13.

“Not only did those weights build my body, but they built my confidence and my self-esteem,” Steinfeld, who rose to fame with the Body by Jake franchise in the 1980s, said to Berkmar Middle School students Monday.

But Steinfeld didn’t just bring a message to the kids; he cut a ribbon on a $100,000 fitness center at the school, one of three in Georgia opened through his National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils.

“I’m a big believer in academics and fitness going hand in hand,” Steinfeld said during a pep rally celebrating the center, which was privately funded through the foundation’s supporters like Coca-Cola.

The personal training pioneer said he wanted to give schools the tools to combat childhood obesity, but also told the kids that fitness can only allow them to feel their own strength and avoid behaviors like drugs and gangs.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who does 100 push ups and 100 sit-ups every other morning, congratulated the school for its efforts to build kids bodies as well as minds.

“If you put your mind to it, you can be a healthy individual,” he said, bringing his wife Sandra, a former sixth-grade teacher, along for the ceremony.