The official newsletter of the President's Challenge                                June 2011  
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topGreetings from the President's Challenge

Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program!  

You have received the June 2011 issue of Fitness is Fun, the official e-mail distribution of the President's Challenge. These monthly e-mails will keep you updated on our programs, activities of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) and other current information pertaining to health and fitness.


ATTENTION EDUCATORS! The whistle to the right is for you! To help you better navigate our newsletter, the whistle will appear next to any information that directly pertains to you as an educator.  




President's Challenge News


State Champion application deadline approaches


state  champsHave you completed your President's Challenge testing for 2010-2011? If so, now is the time to submit your application to become a State Champion.  Schools with at least 50 students are eligible. All submissions must be submitted or postmarked by July 1 for consideration.  All schools will be notified October 1, 2011.  Click on one of the following links to begin your application today!

  • Fill out our easy online application
  • Print and complete the entry form (PDF). Return it and the class composite record to the President's Challenge office at:

The President's Challenge     

Attn: State Champion Entries     

501 N. Morton Street, Suite 203     

Bloomington, IN 47404


Missed the boat for this year? Consider applying next year.  State Champion Awards are given to the three schools in each state with the highest percentage of students qualifying for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award by earning scores in the 85th percentile or higher on the Physical Fitness Test.  Winning schools receive a distinctive award certificate and recognition on the President's Challenge website.  Also, all of the students who contributed to earning the State Champion award receive an embroidered emblem and a certificate of recognition.  All of these rewards are offered for free!  Additionally, winning schools can choose to order State Champion Award t-shirts to commemorate their accomplishment.




Over 1000 schools registered for Box Tops for Education Family Fitness Nights


The President's Challenge would like to extend our thanks and fam fitness nightcongratulations to the many schools that are promoting physical activity through Box Tops for Education Family Fitness Nights. By encouraging students to earn their PALAs, many of these schools are helping us to meet the current Million PALA Challenge.  As of early May, approximately 4,000 Family Fitness Night kits including 100,000 balls were delivered to schools nationwide, and 145,000 children and adults earned a PALA certificate. Check out upcoming issues of FIF to see how some of these schools celebrated their Family Fitness Night!



Nickelodeon lends helping hand with Million PALA Challenge

Through  an on-air and an online campaign, Nickelodeon will be making an effort to help connect kids and their families to the Million PALA Challenge. Nickelodeon's campaign, The Big Help, announced the new partnership June 6.  The Big Help makes an effort to provide kids with the resources they need to take action on issues of importance to them. 


One primary area of the initiative's focus is health and wellness, so they are airing a series of public service announcements about the Million PALA Challenge. The PSAs will feature stars from the network's live-action comedy series, Big Time Rush.  Online, The Big Help site has a new section where kids can download a PALA Challenge activity log and get ideas for activities.  As an incentive, The Big Help has offered exclusive virtual rewards as well as Nick points for completing all six weeks of the Challenge.   







Keep your sweaty socks out of sight with this functional nylon mesh sport bag. Navy-blue with the President's Challenge logo and web address in white lettering, the 17" x 18" bag features a drawstring closure, zippered inside pocket, and a Velcro pocket for keys, change, Gold Award medallion, whatever. For information on how to order a Sport Pack or any of our other fitness products, visit our online shopping center.


red arrowPRICE: $9.95


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Board of Director appointments announced for new National Foundation on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition 

May 10, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the appointments to the Board of Directors of the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The foundation's board of directors includes nine governing members and five ex-officio members. 


The governing members are:


  • Tom McMillen, Chairperson, NFFSN Board; CEO of Homeland Security Capital Corporation
  • Cindy Sisson Hensley, Secretary, NFFSN Board; Former President of HOPSports
  • Scott Blackmun, CEO, United States Olympic Committee
  • Cris Collinsworth, Sports Analyst & Commentator, NBC Sports
  • Patrick Cunnane, Board Member; President/CEO of Advanced Sports International
  • Raul J. Fernandez, Board Member; Chairman, ObjectVideo
  • Rockne Freitas, Board Member; Vice President for Student Affairs and University/Community Relations, University of Hawai'i System
  • Maureen Peckman, Board Member; Chief Emerging Business Officer for the Cleveland Clinic Nevada; and CEO of Keep Memory Alive
  • David Rone, Board Member; Executive, Evolution Media Capital (EMC)

The ex-officio members include:

  • Ursula Bauer, Director, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Thomas Frieden, Director, CDC
  • Susan Shurin, Acting Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director, President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition

According to the press release, "Congress established the Foundation through the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Establishment Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 22, 2010. The Foundation will support the mission of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition by encouraging funding and other resource contributions that support the important work of the council."  Click here to read the full HHS press release.



PCFSN Co-Chairs Drew Brees and Dominique Dawes present Lifetime Achievement Awards

During the May 10 meeting of the Council, co-chairs Drew Brees and Dominique Dawes recognized the five winners of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Awards.  Each year, this award is presented to individuals whose careers have made significant contributions to the advancement and promotion of physical activity, sports or nutrition.  The winners for this year were:


SihakSihak Henry Cho, a 9th degree blackbelt who opened the first permanent Korean Karate (now known as Tae Kwon Do) school in the U.S. and is touted for encouraging sharing and cooperation among the martial arts community







WilliamWilliam G. McNamara, who served as the first Director of Armed Forces Sport and Fitness Committee Secretariat in 1958 and was a consultant for the President's Council for 24 years, a key participant in negotiating the location of the United States Olympic Committee's headquarters and national training center in Colorado Springs, and the developer of the first U.S. center for orienteering





JamesJames F. Sallis, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and Director of the Active Living Research program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation whose primary research interests include promoting physical activity and understanding policy and environmental influences on physical activity, nutrition, and obesity




JudithJudith C. Young, Ph.D., Vice President for Programs at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) where she facilitates and coordinates the program work of the organization's five national associations, the research consortium, and the six district associations





Click here to learn more about the 2011 winners or nominate someone for 2012. 



Let's Move and PCFSN reach out to military families

As part of the Joining Forces and Let's Move initiatives, First Lady Michelle Obama announced new collaborations that will make it  easier for the military community to access resources to help them get in shape.  As of June 1, activated reservists and National Guard members and their immediate family members can go online to sign up for free sports club memberships through the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and personal training through the American Council on Exercise� (ACE�).


IHRSA is offering over 100,000 free memberships to qualifying members of the military community.  Memberships may include additional benefits such as childcare, children's programming, group classes, discounts for veterans, and discounts for active duty families. Through the website members can access a free digital subscription to Get Active! Magazine, a publication dedicated to promoting healthy living through exercise. Learn more. 


ACE� is providing at least 1 million hours of training and fitness instruction from their certified fitness professionals.  Learn more.   

South Lawn Series: Military Families Wellness
South Lawn Series: Military Families Wellness


The PCFSN is contributing to the Joining Forces initiatives through a special series of events and outreach with military families across the nation. They kicked off their pledge by leading a South Lawn Series event for families of National Guard members and reservists. Last month

  • Council Member and ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi joined several Wounded Warriors to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.
  • Council Member and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards visited with military families in Dover, DE, and will continue his commitment to reaching military families during race weekends all year.
  • Council Member Dr. Stephen McDonough joined the 2nd Annual Warrior Games at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Read McDonough's blog post about his experience. 

The PCFSN will continue to participate in events with the Armed Forces branches throughout the summer.


Let's Move! For Military Kids and Families
Let's Move! For Military Kids and Families


See our Get Inspired section to learn more about Tedy Bruschi's incredible Kilimanjaro journey with the Wounded Warriors project.



Beyonce shows how to "Move Your Body"

Everyone already knew Grammy award winning singer Beyonce could move, but now she is encouraging others to do the same.  In a music video released April 27, Beyonce performs a "flash workout" to a remix of her song "Get Me Bodied," changing the lyrics to "move your body" and leading a cafeteria full of kids in a lively dance routine.  In each verse she challenges listeners to "missions" of activity such as high knees, jumping rope and shuffling, all mixed with fun dance moves.  Another video featuring Frank Catson Jr. takes viewers through a warm-up and all the steps of the flash workout, including the signature "Beyonce Bounce."


OFFICIAL HD Let's Move! "Move Your Body" Music Video with Beyoncé - NABEF
OFFICIAL "Let's Move" Flash Workout Instructional Video


Networking to target childhood obesity is a social networking website launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. On this site, individuals can create profiles and connect with others in a community who are interested in getting involved in projects targeting childhood obesity.  To sign up visit:



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Upcoming Events and Deadlines 


Olympic Day Celebrations

June 23

Commemorating the birth of the modern Olympic Games, Olympic Day is  a celebration and an international effort to promote fitness and well-being in addition to the Olympic ideals of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect and Sportsmanship. Learn more. 


NASPE National Coaching Conference

June 22 - 25

Colorado Springs, CO

PCFSN Executive Director Shellie Pfohl will present June 23 at NASPE's National Coaching Conference on the topic of Federal efforts in support of sport participation. Learn more. 


Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference

June 24 - 26

Boulder, CO

PCFSN Executive Director Shellie Pfohl will speak June 24 to conference attendees about how fitness and health bloggers have a role in America's fitness, health, and nutrition. Learn more. 


Women's Health 2011: A Focus on Culture and Collaboration

June 27 - 29

Alexandria, VA

PCFSN Executive Director Shellie Pfohl will speak June 27 about obesity, physical activity and nutrition at Women's Health 2011, sponsored by the Office on Women's Health. Learn more. 


27th Annual IDEA World Fitness Convention

August 11 - 14

Los Angeles, CA

Learn more. 

8th Annual World Wide Day of Play

September 24

Washington, D.C.

Nickelodeon will host an entire day of activities and games to encourage kids and their families to encourage active, healthy lifestyles.  From noon to 3 p.m., the network will suspend all programming to encourage abandoning the TV for some physical activity. Learn more. 



Be the one in one million!

Sign up today to help us meet our Million PALA.  Every person counts, so encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to join in as well!  Those who earn their PALA will have access to a free, limited-edition e-certificate.  Award winners can fill in their name and date on the certificate before printing.


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GET ACTIVE                                                


"Tri" a Triathlon!


Maybe you swim.  Maybe you bike.  Maybe you run.  But what about doing all three in a row?  Make this summer your time to train for a triathlon!


Preparing for a triathlon is the perfect way to mix up your workout fact that is the reason this event came to be. The first known race to combine the elements of swimming, biking, and running took place in 1974 in San Diego's Mission Bay. Organized by the San Diego Track Club, the event was intended as a relief from the boredom of their typical training.  John Collins participated in this first race, and then later went on to develop what may be the triathlon's most recognizable event: the Ironman. (Source:


Although the most popular format, which is used in the Olympics, consists of a 1.5K swim, a 40K bike ride, and a 10K run, triathlons vary in length and duration. You can use the triathlon calendar at to find the right race for you. 


To get started with training, you can utilize the official training plans of USA Triathlon, triathlon's national governing body associated with the United States Olympic Committee.


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"Tri" a Triathlon Part 1: Swim


The June, July, and August issues of Fitness is Fun will feature tips and resources to help you train for each portion of the race.  This month we dive right in with swimming.

Swimming safely

Swimming can be a real pain if you don't employ injury prevention techniques and exercises.  Common swimming injuries include the shoulders and neck.  Follow the advice presented by health professionals and USA Swimming.



Adapting triathlon swimming for pool training

The following article introduction was taken from the weekly training tips offered by USA Triathlon:


No matter your swim speed, one crucial element to the swim portion of a triathlon is navigation. Swimming the shortest route requires attention to preparation for the course design and environmental conditions. The best way to improve your open water navigation skills is to practice in a lake, river or ocean. However, many athletes do not have the luxury of having regular access to these bodies of water. Luckily, there are drills that you can practice in a swimming pool to help you prepare for open water conditions. Click here to read more. 




Check out our Advocate of the Month,  Competitor Group, Inc.  They operate the TriRock Triathlon series and publish two magazines dedicated to triathlons and triathletes.  To support the President's Challenge, they also sponsor a running program for youth called KiDS ROCK. 


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News and Research


Putting fitness on the map: how fit is your community?

In a comparison of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Minneapolis, MN came out on top. Last month, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released the 2011 American Fitness Index Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas (AFI).  The program, which was launched in 2008, is intended to "to help communities identify opportunities to improve the health of their residents and expand community assets to better support active, healthy lifestyles." This year, Washington, DC came in second, with Boston, MA following in third place.



Metropolitan Area



Washington, D.C.



Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.



Denver, Colo.



Boston, Mass.



San Francisco, Calif.



Seattle, Wash.



Portland, Ore.



San Diego, Calif.



Austin, Texas



Virginia Beach, Va.



Surprisingly, warmer temperatures were not found to have a strong influence with metro areas' fitness scores - the top 5 metros are actually "pretty chilly," according to an analysis done by Atlantic Media Company. However, affluence, education, innovation, and high shares of professional, technical, and knowledge jobs were all shown to have a positive correlation with higher rankings.


In addition to printing the report for metropolitan areas, the ACSM describes how to use the AFI Community Application Tool for those who wish to evaluate the health and fitness of their own community.  Instructions are listed in the 2011 American Fitness Index.  The ACSM also offers the AFI Community Action Guide as a companion resource to the ACSM American Fitness Index™.  



How would your community measure up to the AFI?  For our question of the month, tell us what you think about the health and fitness of your community.  Click here to respond.



1.3 million California Students receive no school-based physical education


Cuts to physical education (PE) programs combined with students exemptions have resulted in a lack of school-based physical activity for over a third of California adolescents attending public middle and high schools.  Among those who do receive school-based PE, it is not enough to help them meet the recommended level of physical activity for improved health.  According to the policy brief issued by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, only 19 percent of all California teens actually meet current physical activity recommendations. Read the May 31 press release.

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Food for Thought


When the USDA published their 2010 Dietary Guidelines, they identified three selected messages for consumers to consider.

1.    Balancing calories

2.    Foods to increase

3.    Foods to decrease

Starting this month, we will feature one of these messages in each FIF issue.

get nourished


Balancing Calories: Four tips for the 4th of July

Every Independence Day, we pride ourselves on being the "land of the free." But in recent history, we have also become "home of the overweight and obese" due to poor eating habits and more sedentary lifestyles.  Now more than ever, it is important to make smart choices when it comes to our diets - and this involves balancing calories. 


To do so, the USDA suggests you "enjoy your food, but eat less" and "avoid oversized portions."  However, around holidays like the 4th of July, this is easier said than done, right?  Here are several tips to help you celebrate Independence Day without sacrificing your health.


Enjoy your food, but eat less

1.     Eat more slowly

This can sometimes help you to feel fuller faster.  According to the Harvard Health Blog, some researchers theorize that by eating quickly, people do not give their network of gastrointestinal digestive hormones enough time to interact with the brain to signal fullness.

2.     Watch out for more calories hidden in newer cookbooks

If you are preparing a favorite meal for yourself or others from a newer cookbook, be aware that the recipes may contain more calories than in previous editions.  In a study of recipes from The Joy of Cooking, the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that those from the 2006 edition had 35 percent more calories than the 1936 edition.  Researchers say ingredients as well as larger portion sizes are to blame.  For example, a recipe for chicken gumbo prepared 14 servings at 228 calories each in 1936, but the same recipe only makes 10 servings at 576 calories in 2006. Read more. 


Avoid oversized portions

3.     Think about overeating to reduce overeating

Although it may seem counterintuitive, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have found that people who imagine overeating a particular food are less likely to do so in reality. While visualizing one bite of your favorite dessert might just wet your appetite, visualizing eating a whole pound of it might curb the craving. To be effective, this technique requires imagining overeating the specific type of food you want to resist. Learn more. 

4.     Use smaller dishes to avoid portion distortion

plate sizeLook at the picture to the side. Notice how the central dot on the right appears larger?  In reality, the two central dots are the same size.  This same illusion can occur with food on plates. Researchers from the Cornell University Food and brand Lab have found that larger plates reduce our ability to judge appropriate portion sizes.  Join the Small Plate Movement Challenge, which encourages you to eat off of a 10" plate to help you decrease the amount of food you serve yourself while still maintaining your perceived satisfaction and fullness. Read more. 


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News and Research


Dishing out nutrition through the new MyPlate logo

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government's new food icon, MyPlate June 2.  This is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups. myplate


Originally identified in the Child Obesity Task Force report which noted that simple, actionable advice for consumers is needed, MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid image as the government's primary food group symbol as an easy-to-understand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPyramid will remain available to interested health professionals and nutrition educators in a special section of the new website. Refer to the MyPlate press materials to learn more.  


The MyPlate icon is available to view and download in PDF and JPGformats. 





American eating habits hard to swallow for immigrants

Immigrants who want to assimilate may choose high-calorie, fatty foods in order to seem more American, according to a recent study published by the Association for Psychological Science.  This could help explain the obesity levels experienced by many immigrants within 15 years of moving to the United States. The study focused on Asian Americans and found that when their American identity was called into question, subsequent food choices tended to be more typically "American."  Those who selected the more American dishes consumed, on average, an extra 182 calories. Read more.


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Question of the Month 


Last month we asked, "What is your favorite snack?"  See what some of your fellow FIF readers had to say and learn new facts about some familiar snacks.


"Apple slices dusted with cinnamon! You can put them in a baggie to take to school or work and the cinnamon keeps the apples from browning...delicious!"

Julien W.

 Seattle, WA


FACT: "Our recent human studies indicate that consuming roughly one half of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day or less leads to dramatic improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Intake of cinnamon, at these levels, is very safe and there should not be any side effects," according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Read more. 



"An apple, banana or homemade trail mix - equal parts dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries and almonds. Yum!"

Carmela S.

Green Bay, WI


FACT: There is evidence that cranberry products help to prevent urinary tract infections, possibly reduce the ability of certain stomach bacteria to cause ulcers, and have antioxidant properties that could reduce dental plaque, according to a fact sheet from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Read the NCCAM fact sheet. 


Dark chocolate! It's a great source of antioxidants, it prevents heart disease and atherosclerosis, and lowers blood pressure!

Karen V.

San Francisco, CA


FACT: A 2010 Harvard research study indicated that "eating a small amount of high-quality dark chocolate one to three times a month may help stave off heart failure in women."  However, according to study author Dr. Murray Mittleman, the effects can be detrimental if the dark chocolate is consumed in higher levels due to its caloric density and high fat and sugar content.  Read more. 



"A banana with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter spread on top!"

Valerie H.

Gaithersburg, MD


FACT: The USDA put a creative twist on this snack by suggesting frozen graham cracker sandwiches. Mix mashed bananas and peanut butter and spread between graham crackers and then freeze as a way to "Make Food Fun for Picky Eaters."  See more ideas from the USDA. 



"Popcorn! I air pop it and add a few squirts of margarine spray and other seasonings depending on my mood. It satisfies my need to crunch, fills me up, and adds needed fiber to my diet."

Kathy S.

Springfield, MO


FACT: Air-popped popcorn or pretzels sprinkled with salt-free seasoning mix are included in the list of simple snack ideas compiled by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). See more ideas from NIDDK. 




The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released the 2011 American Fitness Index, which compares the health and community fitness of the 50 largest metropolitan areas. How would your community measure up?  Tell us what you think about the health of your community. Click here to respond.


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Special Feature


Tedy Bruschi 

Tedy Bruschi and Ben Lunak, a former Marine and single-leg amputee who served as an inspiration throughout the climb.

Source:, courtesy of Tedy Bruschi

Climbing for a cause

The excitement of professional football can take your breath away, but former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi experienced that sensation on a whole other level during his 7-day journey to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Starting on May 13, Bruschi made his way to the top of the 19,000-foot mountain.  However, Bruschi, who is a member of the PCFSN and an ESPN analyst, did not make the ascent alone.  He climbed alongside four injured members of the military to raise awareness for the Wounded Warriors Project. Bryan Wagner and Ben Lunak both lost a leg, Mike Wilson faced a traumatic brain injury and struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, and Nancy Schiliro lost an eye. Additionally, Jeff Fisher, former coach of the Tennessee Titans, and Chad Lewis, previously with the Philadelphia Eagles, were also present for the hike up Africa's tallest mountain.


 "I've never done anything - and I mean anything - remotely like this," he said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. If you wish to read more about the inspiring climb, Bruschi chronicled his journey in a column for  You can also read the Associated Press article.     




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Featured Advocate of the Month


Competitor Group, Inc.

Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI) is the leading active lifestyle resource dedicated to promoting the sports of running, cycling and triathlon. CGI owns and operates 55 national endurance events, including the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, TriRock Triathlon Series and Columbia Muddy Buddy Series; which will deliver more than 400,000 professional and amateur participants in 2011.  


KiDS ROCK is a nationwide kids' running series held in conjunction with the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.  In  hopes of inspiring a love for running and fitness, Competitor Group, Inc., along with ING, is teaming up with the President's Challenge to reach as many kids as possible with this program.


CGI also publishes four magazine titles including VeloNews, Inside Triathlon, Triathlete and Competitor magazine with a combined monthly circulation of more than 620,000. In addition, the company holds a captive online endurance community at delivering over 1.5 million monthly unique visitors and 25 million page views. Learn more about CGI and its media properties. 



We would like to extend a special thanks to all of the President's Challenge Advocates. Please visit the Advocates section to see how companies, organizations and groups are making a difference with the President's Challenge.


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We hope you enjoyed this month's issue of Fitness is Fun.

As we begin to create our next issue, we would like to hear from you!

We welcome questions or comments regarding current content and are open to suggestions for future topics we should address. Inspiring stories are also appreciated and could become features in upcoming issues. 

E-mail us at


The Fitness is Fun staff
The President's Challenge

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