Jake Steinfield’s resume is a lengthy one.

Not only is he the man behind the “Body by Jake” fitness brand, but he’s also the creator of FitTV and ExerciseTV; a cofounder of Major League Lacrosse, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author, and was an official torch bearer in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

He’s starred in sitcom “Big Brother Jake,” is credited in a number of popular TV shows, and is executive producer of award-winning film “The Grizzlies.” He’s trained big names in entertainment like Stephen Spielberg and Harrison Ford ahead of two “Indiana Jones” movies, and his friends include celebrities likeArnold Schwarzenegger.

And on Oct. 16, he came to Burlington.

He wasn’t here to take in the scenic river views or to drive down Snake Alley. Rather he had come to visit some very important people at Aldo Leopold Intermediate School.

“The real stars are our kids,” Steinfield told the group of parents, community members, teachers, district staff and administrators that had gathered in the school’s library ahead of the assembly and ribbon cutting ceremony for Aldo’s DON’T QUIT Fitness Center.

Aldo is among 121 schools in the state of Iowa to have applied for $100,000 worth of fitness equipment through the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, of which Steinfield has been chairman since 2012. Three were chosen to receive the gift.

To be considered for the FGFC’s DON’T QUIT Fitness Campaign, schools had to submit a three-minute video explaining why they need a fitness center.

With some help from their then-principal, Tim Cradic, supervisor of grants and community outreach Cassie Gerst, and a decrepit stationary bike, a group of six Aldo students — Quashonn Manning, Rogan Francis, Ryder Douglas, Aubrey Mason, Zoey Kantzavelos and Ray’Meair Fredricks — made their case with facts, humor and creativity,  at one point working out using logs to emphasize the need for functional equipment.

On the day of the ribbon cutting, those students were joined by 24 of their peers acting as ambassadors at the front of the school’s auditorium while the rest of their classmates watched from their seats as Steinfield talked about his own fitness journey.

“I felt such great energy and such great love when I walked through the front doors of your school today that I have to tell you a little story,” Steinfield began.

He went on to tell the students that he had struggled with his weight and confidence when he was in elementary and middle school. He also had a stutter.

“When I was growing up, I got so nervous and so uptight when I had to read that when I went to speak out loud, I couldn’t do it, so I got quiet and couldn’t make friends,” Steinfield said. “One day, my dad got me a set of weights, and those weights changed my life, because not only did those weights build my body, but they built my confidence and my self-esteem.

“When you have confidence and you feel good about yourself and you have self-esteem, when you can look in that mirror and be proud of who you are, it’s amazing to see what you will be able to accomplish in your lives.”

Steinfield encouraged those in attendance to change “I can’t” to “I can.”

“The world let’s you be what you make them believe you are,” Steinfield said.

He encouraged the students to go home after school and write down what they want to be when they grow up and to use exercise as a way to boost their self-esteem, self-confidence and endurance, to constantly push themselves to meet new challenges.

“This is what’s going to happen,” Steinfield said. “When you start to exercise, those endorphins, you’re going to start feeling better about who you are.”

After the assembly and ribbon cutting, the student ambassadors flooded into the fitness center, where they rotated through the various pieces of equipment, all the while being cheered on by Steinfield.

Rachel Cameron, who teaches physical education at Aldo, said the DON’T QUIT Fitness Center will allow students new opportunities and means to build healthy habits.

“The DON’T QUIT Fitness Center is the best gift and opportunity I could have ever hoped for, for our scholars,” Cameron said. “The new center is going to provide them a safe environment to learn about and experience equipment they may have never been exposed to before.”

During P.E. class, Aldo students will create wildly important goals (WIGs) that they will work toward. Cameron said the WIGs also will teach students about accountability.

“I am confident this will motivate them to become the best versions of themselves, both physically and mentally,” she said. “This educational experience will also positively impact their adult quality of life, as they will have the tools they need to continue to lead a healthy lifestyle for years to come. I’m beyond excited to get to be a part of this life-changing opportunity for our scholars and can’t wait to ‘Unleash the Hounds’ in the DON’T QUIT Fitness Center!”

Mask group

Read the latest issue of The Burlington Bark

The Burlington Bark is our district newsletter.