Markham Middle School in Watts celebrated the opening of a state-of-the-art fitness center on its campus Tuesday that students and their families will be able to use.
The Body By Jake Fitness Center is the first of its kind in the Los Angeles Unified School District and is part of the Cities in Schools program, a nationwide nonprofit organization that brings together private and public resources to help at-risk youth.
Jake Steinfeld, fitness guru and chairman of Body By Jake enterprises, donated equipment to the Watts school and will develop an exercise program for the children.
"If you build your mind and build your body, you're unstoppable," said the burly Steinfeld.
"This is a place where kids can go to exercise and be able to do it in a controlled environment," said Leon Watkins, the director of the Los Angeles chapter of Cities in Schools. "This is top-notch stuff. This gives more hope, and it lets them know they are all worth it."
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Markham's principal, John Miller, declared the fitness center "the best gym in Watts," and said he would like to see other private companies come to Watts.
Miller said that the physical education teachers will use the fitness center in their curriculum, and an after-school weightlifting and fitness club will be established.