TROY - Troy Intermediate School welcomed fitness icon Jake Steinfeld with open arms Thursday as he arrived to help cut the ribbon on the school's new fitness center.

Wound up with excitement, the students shouted, jumped up and down, waved their arms, and pumped their fists during a program in Memorial Auditorium. Cheerleaders and energetic music kicked up the adrenaline.

When Steinfeld took the stage, the students cheered him on as if he were the headliner at a rock concert.

"Troy Trojans, how you guys doing?" he said, getting a wild, enthusiastic response from the audience.

"What a fantastic school, I can't tell you how excited we are to be here," Steinfeld told the kids.

Steinfeld, chairman of the National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils, was there to help cut the ribbon on the intermediate school's new $100,000 "Live Positively" Fitness Center. In May, Troy Intermediate School and three other Pennsylvania schools were named "National Champion" schools and won a state-of-the-art fitness center for their efforts in encouraging physical fitness innovation and healthy living standards to their students, according to a news release.

On his Facebook page, Steinfeld is described as "one of the fitness industry's reigning icons, responsible for creating the personal fitness training industry over 30 years ago. A street-smart entrepreneur, he continues to develop successful products, brands and businesses." He is also an actor, having appeared in movies including "The Money Pit" and "Coming to America," and is famous for "Body by Jake" line of fitness equipment.

Steinfeld delivered an uplifting message.

He told the students that "if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything you want, especially if you're healthy and you're feeling good about yourself."

"Another great thing about exercise is when you feel great about yourself, you're less likely to smoke a cigarette, you're less likely to take a drug, you're less likely to join a gang. And what you're most likely to do is to feel great about yourself and do whatever you want." He also told the kids that academics and fitness go hand-in-hand.

Steinfeld told the students his motto is "Don't Quit" and read his poem: "Stick to the fight when you're hardest hit. It's when things seem worst that you must not quit."

He then led the students in saying, in unison, his motto of "Don't Quit."

Steinfeld told the students he was going to tell them why their school was one of the schools chosen.

Among the reasons he cited was the school's healthy choice cafeteria offerings, such as fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains and low-sodium options. He was especially impressed that there were no salt shakers in the school. He also liked the school's FIT (Fitness in Troy) Club.

"What I love the most about what you all are doing is that you are a community - moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles, teachers, community leaders, and students all working together," he said. "You guys are our next generation, our most precious resource."

Steinfeld also stressed that the program doesn't depend on taxpayer money or state funding. As noted in the news release, each fitness center is financed through a public/private sector partnership with companies like Coca-Cola.

The National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils program will roll out to all 50 states in the coming years, according to the news release. The goal is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world by providing schools with the tools they need to succeed, it notes.

Christina Sheeley, physical education teacher at the school, was the one who nominated the district to receive the award and saw her efforts come to fruition. She was recognized during the assembly by intermediate school principal Rebecca Stanfield, who noted that Sheeley did a "tremendous amount of work" preparing for the assembly and ribbon cutting as well.

The intermediate school principal thanked others for helping convert the room at the intermediate school into the fitness center -- Henry Chamberlain, Ryan Chaapel and David Blair, the district's maintenance supervisor. Troy Area School Board members and the county commissioners also attended the event.

When Sheeley stood in front of the podium, she became emotional, wiping away some tears now that the fitness center was finally a reality. She recognized everyone who worked to make everything happen.

In a touching moment, Steinfeld grabbed her hand and raised arms with her, pointing to her in recognition of all her work as the audience applauded.

While gym class in the past focused mainly on team sports, Sheeley said her goal was a physical education program with an emphasis on personal fitness.

"And now, we can," she said, adding that she was excited about the new "Live Positively" Fitness Center. There was wild applause at her comments.

"Our students are now going to be able to understand the why behind physical fitness," and see how it improves such things as their attention and test performance, she said, echoing Steinfeld's comments.

"Learning this connection early, at a young age," she said, will provide the students with the knowledge and tools to live healthy lives.

She left the students with a quote from former U.S. President John F. Kennedy: "Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."

Others attending included Harry Forbes, Regional Director for Governor Corbett; Matt Baker, State Representative; and Jim Whitehead, Executive Director, National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils.

After the program in the auditorium, Steinfeld, Sheeley, Stanfield, district superintendent W. Charles Young, students, various dignitaries, and school staff went over to the fitness center in the intermediate school for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"I think it's great," said school board president Todd Curren. He said Sheeley did a great job.

Board member Mike Olsyn said the district was "very happy" to have the fitness center.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: