The official newsletter of the President's Challenge                             January 2011
In This Issue
President's Challenge News
Upcoming Events
Get Grants
Get Active
Question of the Month
PC All American
Fitness and Wellness with Marjie
PC Advocate
Quick Links

PC Website

Past FIF Issues
Join Our Mailing List
TopGreetings from the President's Challenge
Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program!

You have received the Januray 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.

Congress passes, President Obama signs National Foundation on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Establishment Act

The signing of this bill Dec. 22 officially established the National Foundation on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. The foundation will help to fund the activities of the the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and increase resources directed toward the promotion of sports, physical activity and good nutrition. The bill  was supported by the Coalition for the National Foundation on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.  Read the press release issued by the coalition following congressional passage of the bill. Watch the CBS News interview of Coalition Chair Tom McMillen, speaking about the bill and its passage. McMillen is a former congressman and NBA basketball player who served twice on the President's Council.


cbs news

President signs Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law

After passing with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act 2010 received President Obama's signature Dec. 13. According to a fact sheet issued the day of the signing, the act "authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children." The bill will provide funding without increasing the deficit.  Go to the White House Blog to view a video of the President signing the bill into law.  The blog post also includes a before and after sample menu and descriptions of the key features of the act.

Obama Signing
President Barack Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C. December 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Drew Brees to keynote at AAHPERD Conference

Drew Brees, co-chair of the President's Council drew breeson Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and the 2010 Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, will keynote the General Session of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) at the 2011 AAHPERD National Convention & Exposition in San Diego, CA on Thursday, March 31. 



Make your move: Help implement the National Physical Activity Plan

activity planThe National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) continues to work on the implementation of the first ever National Physical Activity Plan.   Organizations and individuals with an interest in the eight sectors addressed in the plan or physical activity promotion in general are encouraged to help with this year-long phase.

Download the PDF version of the plan to find out more. See how you can get involved today!



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President's Challenge News

Activity Tracker upgraded 

Just in time for those making New Year's resolutions the new and improved activity tracker has all the features of our previous version and more.  In addition to keeping track of all your physical activities, you can now join a group and communicate with others in your group.  A cool new trophy case displays all of your awards.  Group administrators will also see many upgraded capabilities in the reporting features and communication tools.  If you have not been to the PC site lately to log your activities, or need to start your account, now is a great time to get moving!

Educator tools launching soon

Our online physical fitness tracking tools for educators (Fitness File) is getting a new look as well.  But don't worry, the new version will be launching soon and will be ready for your spring fitness testing.


Making the Challenge more App-licable

Have an idea for an application President's Challenge participants could use for your iPhone or iPod?  We want to hear about it!  Become a fan of the President's Challenge on Facebook, and leave a post with your ideas on our discussion wall.  The discussion wall also includes other topics, such as new workout suggestions.  Get online and share your input with us and other participants today.


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We are now offering some of our previous styles of Physical Fitness t-shirts at a discounted price! Each style and category including Presidential, National, and Participant are currently on sale. Buy the shirts while supplies last.


For information on how to order the discounted t-shirts or any of our other fitness products visit our online shopping center.


PRICE: $5.35 - $6.50


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Upcoming Events

 PE Teacher of the Year Award Deadline

January 31

New this year, this award is sponsored by the NFL Network. Learn more.

Lifetime Achievement Award Deadline

February 1

The PCFSN Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals whose careers have greatly contributed to the advancement or promotion of physical activity, fitness or sports nationwide. Winners are chosen by the members of the President's Council based on the span and scope of an individual's career, the estimated number of lives they have touched, and the impact of their legacy.  Nomination information can be found at



February 1, 1 - 2 p.m. EST

Presenter: AAHPERD/NASPE and Strategic Partners

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition is a Federal partner of Let's Move in School, an initiative of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) and its National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) to support Let's Move in School.

Individuals interested in school health, physical education and physical activity among school-aged children are invited to join the Let's Move in School - Call to Action Webinar on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 from 1-2pm EST.

Although it has been established by research that 60 minutes of physical activity a day is important for student health and academic performance, many are challenged with "how" to offer adequate physical activity in the face of other education demands. Let's Move in School provides a unified message along with tools and resources to implement a comprehensive school physical activity program.

Let's Move in School brings together leading education associations, federal partners, and corporate partners in an effort to help schools coordinate physical activity before, during, and after school. With physical education as the cornerstone, a comprehensive school physical activity program enables students to practice and apply skills and gain knowledge in a culture of "active learning".

The Let's Move In School webinar will provide the "why, what, and how" to get involved in this initiative. Please register by Friday, January 28.

Register for the webinar at:

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements:

PC-based attendees: WindowsR 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

MacintoshR-based attendees: Mac OSR X 10.4.11 (TigerR) or newer

25th Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD)
February 2
NGWSD-logo.jpgNGWSD is celebrated in all 50 states with community-based events, award ceremonies, and activities honoring the achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in sports. Download materials to help you organize, promote, and host your own NGWSD celebration.
Learn more.


1st Anniversary of Let's Move!

February 9


IDEAIDEA Personal Trainer Institute Conference

February 17 - 20

Alexandria, VA

Learn more.


126th AAPHERD National Convention

March 29 - April 2

San Diego

Register by January 18 to receive the Early Bird reduced fee. Drew Brees, co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and the 2010 Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback for the New Orleans Saints will be the keynote speaker March 21. The convention will also include the "Change the World of Physical Education" PE2020 Forum on March 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more.


National Bike Summit

March 8 - 9

Washington, D.C.

bikeTen years ago, the first National Bike Summit brought just over 100 advocates and industry leaders to Washington, D.C. This year they are trying to get closer to 1,000 participants to speak up for bicycling and help the League of American Bicyclists celebrate 10 years of progress. Learn more.



March 16 - 17

Herndon, VA

AAHPERD has organized the third annual day "Supporting Physical Education & Activity K-12" (SPEAK). Check out the website to see the two-day agenda and register for the third annual advocacy event.

Learn more.


Ongoing Event

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JOIN THE MILLION PALA CHALLENGE Start the New Year off right by earning the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. Sign up today to help us meet our Million PALA goal.  Don't keep the rewards of being  active to yourself--get your family, friends, and colleagues to do the same!


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Get Grants


Fuel Up to Play 60

fuel upOpen to K-12 schools enrolled in the in-school wellness program, this grant provides money to help jumpstart and sustain healthy nutrition and physical activity improvements. The funds can be used for a variety of activities and tools, such as foodservice materials and equipment, nutrition and physical education materials, student and staff incentives, staff development and overall Fuel Up to Play 60 program implementation.


Fuel Up to Play 60, the in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council, local Dairy Councils and the National Football League, in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is helping to make wellness part of the game plan in more than 60,000 schools across the country. NFL Play 60 is an advocate of the President's Challenge. Apply now.


Amount: up to $3,000

Deadline: February 15



Harvest Grants Program

welch'sWelch's is partnering with Scholastic Publishing Company and the National Gardening Association to offer grants to support school garden programs in the belief that hands-on experiences with planting, tending, and growing gardens provide a dynamic setting for learning and benefit kids of all ages. Apply now.


Amount: up to $3,000

Deadline: February 11



Lowes Toolbox for Education Grant

toolboxNow in its 5th year Lowes Toolbox for Education provides educators and parent groups with a chance to receive funding for programs and projects that are "efficient and with the greatest impact." In 2011, basic needs will take priority. Please keep this focus in mind as you apply for a Toolbox for Education grant in the 2010-2011 academic year. Apply now.


Amount: $5,000

Deadline: February 18


Grants Source: These grants were listed by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and Spark, a PC Advocate. Visit the NASPE Grant Opportunities Database or to explore a multitude of different community and research grant possibilities.  


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Get Active!

Top 10 PC Activities

Based on data compiled from the President's Challenge website, the following activities (in order) are the most popular. This month we are featuring "martial arts".

erik kick

1.   Walking      
2.   Running
3.   Bicycling
4.   Cardio Machines
5.   Weight Training
6.   Household Tasks
7.   Swimming
8.   Martial Arts
9.   Aerobics
10. Lawn mowing/gardening

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Read about how participation in taekwondo enabled this month's 11-year-old PC All-American, Erik Abrahamsen (pictured in red above), to earn his Platinum Award!  Also, learn more about this form of martial arts from the American Taekwondo Association, the PC Advocate of the Month.

Martial Arts

Though commonly associated with Asian cultures, martial arts actually encompass all systems of combat from all societies. Literally meaning the "art of war," martial arts date back as far as 4000 B.C., based on Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Variations range from boxing and wrestling to fencing to karate and Taekwondo.  Each different style has different fitness benefits, but most will offer some level of cardiovascular exercise while also improving coordination, balance and flexibility.


Average calories burned in 30 minutes of Taekwondo (one form of Martial Arts) based on individual weight:


130 lbs.


190 lbs.

220 lbs.

295 calories

364 calories

432 calories

500 calories

Source:, sponsored by the National Health Information Center.

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Question of the Month

With the holidays' typically hectic schedules, heavy meals and sweet treats, what are some strategies you use around this time of the year to maintain your fitness level? How about your nutrition level?


Reader responses:

"Clean, clean, clean. With the holidays there becomes more activity with family and friends and with lots of little things to clean. Every time you celebrate it creates a great opportunity to keep off the fresh baked cookie pounds."


"I try to stay inspired by reading health magazines and continue my workout schedule as usual. The extra "treats" I try to limit to one a day."


"I reassess my weight goal and make the expected loss more realistic. I maintain my program during the regular non-celebratory days, and give myself leeway during the celebratory days, making certain I get in a pre-holiday meal workout. I make sure that I only eat desserts on the actual holiday meal days, as well as one day during the regular week. Lastly, I don't beat myself up and give up on my program if I don't follow it completely for a few days. I start fresh every morning."


"Plan meals using "weight loss" cookbooks which will focus on lower calorie foods [and] walk around the block (I live in New Mexico) before and after meals, as often as I am able."


"I plan my workout for early morning so daily events can be attended. I also pre-eat healthy mini meals before parties."


"I continue my physical routine the same as I do on any other day; I make sure it is on my daily schedule! I enjoy my holiday meals by eating the food items I choose in moderation, with lots of water!"


"I usually take specific holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day as rest days from working out. I usually do full body workouts, so taking a day or two [off] is no big deal. During sit-down holiday meals I don't skimp, but I will limit my eating during non-sit-down dinners."


"I allow myself to have one "cheat" day where I can indulge in some of the treats I don't usually eat. Usually I schedule it for a weekend day or on the day of an office holiday party."


"1) Be realistic - goal should be to breakeven until January 2.  2) Don't beat yourself up over the family meals - they ARE special and should be enjoyed - there are really only a couple over the holidays, so go ahead.  3) BUT - avoid all the "little" temptations - extra goodies at works, etc. - skip these.  4) If family members are in town, then look for activities that incorporate exercise - take a hike or go snowshoeing, instead of your regular workout for the day."


"Be prepared, plan meals and snacks ahead. When you find yourself busy and unprepared, you may end up very hungry and eating whatever is available, like holiday sweets."


"[I] park far away at shopping centers to walk to the stores and take fruit so I am not tempted to eat while I am there."


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Click here to answer the January question: Did you make any New Year's resolutions related to health and wellness?  What were they and how do you plan to maintain them?


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PCAllAmericanPC All-American of the Month 

The President's Challenge likes to recognize participants who benefit from the program and inspire others to lead more healthy lives. Check out Erik Abrahamsen's story, and get motivated!


With his red hair, freckles and close-mouthed grin that reaches his eyes, 11-year-old Erik Abrahamsen of Tennessee is your average 11-year-old...he just happens to have a second degree black belt.


Erik's involvement in this form of martial arts began as a curious visit to their local taekwondo school when he was 7 has become one of the biggest parts of his life.


erik and dad

Erik and Keith at the 2008 United States Jr. Olympics in Detroit, MI.

"I got started when we were just driving by on our way home, and my dad asked if I wanted to stop and see it, so we just went."


Since then, Erik has gone on to become a three-time Tennessee State Champion for 2008, 2009 and 2010. He also qualified for two Junior Olympics, 2007 and 2008, and received medals in both.


Additionally, he is a winner of the PC Platinum Award, an accomplishment he earned in about two years. Erik and his father first found out about the President's Challenge through the American Taekwondo Association, ATA, which is a PC Advocate.


Since Erik trains regularly, two hours a day, six days a week, it is easy to see why he had little difficulty earning the Platinum Award, an accomplishment that made him "very excited and proud."  But that pride extended beyond just Erik.


"Everybody in the community and his school got excited for him." Keith Abrahamsen, Erik's father, said. The Madison County School District even published an article about Erik's achievement. 


However, Keith also stressed that many other kids are deserving of the honor as well.


"He's not the only one - there are a lot of kids that train just as much, but their parents don't know about the Challenge or aren't involved," Keith said.


Thankfully Keith is involved, and supports Erik not only in his taekwondo training, but also in football and soccer.  Still, even with this full schedule, according to Keith, Erik takes it all in stride.


"He's determined.  He doesn't look at it as extra," Keith said.  "He goes home, does his homework, goes to karate and that's just how it is.  We structure around it, and he's on the go."


And due to all of this hard work, this year alone Erik qualified in three different World Champion events for taekwondo: forms, weapons and sparring, his personal favorite.  In order to qualify, Erik had to compete to win enough points to be considered Top 10 in the world for his age and skill level.  Earning those points involved attending 21 tournaments around the United States, earning him 29 gold medals, 9 silver medals and 11 bronze medals.


One of his bronze medals came from the 2010 U.S. Open in Las Vegas, an International Olympic Event in which athletes from the around the world compete. It was there that Erik met most of the 2008 Olympic Champions.


"He got to meet a lot of nice, interesting people," said Keith. "And he wouldn't have had that without taekwondo and going to these different competitions."


On top of life experiences, Erik has also gained life skills from taekwondo.


"It's very hard work and it teaches you discipline," Erik said, and Keith agreed, adding, "You can see how kids respect adults, which is something your don't always have these days."


Have an inspiring story? E-mail!


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Fitness News and Research

New research suggests weight training is beneficial for kids of all ages

Although popular belief maintains that children should not engage in heavy lifting because it can stunt growth, new research published in Pediatrics has indicated that some weight training is both safe and beneficial for youth of all ages. For both boys and girls, as a result of strength training, their nervous systems and muscles start interacting more efficiently.  Consequently, strength training may help reduce the amount of injuries seen among young athletes.  Learn more.


Secretary of Health and Human Services Announces 2011 Healthy Living Innovation Awards

The Healthy Living Innovation Awards offer an exciting chance to recognize and foster the spread of effective health promotion efforts, specifically community-based efforts that either make use of an entirely new tool or approach or have applied existing tools in an unusual way to improve community health and well-being.


Eligible organizations must have an innovative project in at least one of three health promotion areas:

       Healthy weight

       Physical activity



Nominated programs must have been piloted or implemented within the last three years and have demonstrated results. (Note:An innovation can be an existing program that has been implemented in a new way within the last three years.)


Winners will receive awards from the Secretary at a public recognition ceremony and have the opportunity to present their innovations at a national conference in spring 2011.

Nominations for the awards will be accepted January 18 through March 1, 2011.

To learn more about the 2011 Healthy Living Innovation Awards, please visit


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Fitness and Wellness with Marjie


Tips to make your New Year's resolutions stick

Marjie Gilliam


According to estimates, 45 percent of Americans will make fitness and weight loss resolutions in the New Year. Unfortunately, statistics show that within a few weeks many of these goals begin to fade, and after a few months, most are replaced by a return to old habits. Some tips to help keep you on track:


Have a support system. The more people you have rooting for you, the better. Having a workout partner with goals and objectives similar to yours is a great way to stay motivated and achieve success with fitness goals. Training with the right person leaves less opportunity for boredom, creates an environment of friendly competition, and provides accountability to keep you both in check.  Training partners serve as spotters for one another during weight lifting sessions, give each other a needed push to work harder, and help each other meet challenges they may not have otherwise pursued. 


Leave options open. To avoid getting burned out, don't box yourself into doing the same workout over and over again.  A good fitness plan includes a variety and exercises that can be performed whether at home, in the gym or when traveling.  You don't have to spend a lot to get a lot when it comes to products designed to help you get into shape either. Some inexpensive, portable and versatile strengthening options include resistance bands, dumbbells, stability devices, wrist or ankle weights and jump rope.


Hold yourself accountable! One good way to do this is to keep a journal so that you can take an honest look at your choices. For example, what excuses do you typically give yourself when you don't feel like working out or counting calories?  Whatever your excuses are, write them down. Coming to terms with what may have stopped you from reaching your goals in the past is key so that you don't slip back into self-defeating patterns of behavior. Another way to help ensure weight loss success is to write down what you are eating. In a study of over 1500 people conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, it was revealed that participants keeping a food diary more than 5 days of the week lost almost twice as much weight as those who didn't, and were able to keep the weight off.


Be positive! Successful people are driven by two things; an unwavering belief in themselves and an excitement about the future. The way you talk to yourself can be empowering, energizing, keep you focused and motivated, or it can create stress and zap your energy. To move forward with confidence, keep your eyes on what you want and understand the power you have to make a positive difference in your own life. Setting small and realistic goals is also important, as is celebrating each achievement and patting yourself on the back for a job well done.


Use exercise as your stress buster. Stress is a major trigger for overeating, fatigue, and subsequent avoidance of exercise.  Study after study demonstrates that being active keeps stress at bay because it changes body chemistry for the better, relieving depression and anxiety, and reducing feelings of anger, sadness and irritability. As little as 20 to 30 minutes a day is enough to begin improving mood, health and level of fitness. Each exercise session builds on the next, and so as you give yourself regular doses, you will begin to notice improved strength, stamina, endurance and sense of well-being. For those who hate formal exercise, 'activity' does not mean that you have to go to the gym or jog for miles in order to get into great shape. Any movement matters as it all burns calories, so simply start doing more at each opportunity.


Be patient. Generally speaking, allow yourself about 3 weeks for exercise to become a habit. And if you are overweight or out of shape, acknowledge that it took time to get that way, and it will take time for pounds and inches to be lost. The length of time it takes to reach goals varies tremendously from person to person. On average, it takes about 12 weeks of diligence to diet and exercise to see significant changes, such as having to buy smaller clothes.


Don't overlook resistance training when working toward better fitness. Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise is typically the activity of choice for those looking to shed pounds.  While it can help you to lose weight, without regular resistance training, some of the 'weight' you lose will be muscle. To help ensure body fat reduction instead of focusing only on scale weight, engage in strength training workouts 2 to 3 times weekly.

 Marjie Gilliam is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist and freelance journalist, and has authored thousands of articles devoted to health and wellness. Each month we feature one of her articles.


While many people realize that regular exercise is beneficial, they often don't know where or how to start. "We know consumers understand the importance of exercise, but finding a qualified fitness professional is a huge challenge for them" says Peter Davis, chief executive officer (CEO) of IDEA Health & Fitness Association, a PC advocate.

To address this problem, IDEA recently launched IDEA FitnessConnect (, the world's largest directory of fitness professionals. Accessible and free to all users, this comprehensive directory gives consumers the power to search and view profiles of more than 130,000 fitness professionals across the nation. As an added bonus, IDEA has partnered with 17 top certification agencies to verify each professional's credentials, an important indicator of qualifications and expertise. For example, a personal trainer who lists himself as certified will have the word "verified" next to his credentials only when the certification agency has confirmed this information against its database; until then, the status will appear as "pending." If inauthentic, credentials will be listed as "not verified."


"It's important to work with a verified, certified fitness professional," advises Kathie Davis, IDEA executive director. "Certification measures the ability of the candidate to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned. It establishes that this person is competent to work unsupervised in a given field." IDEA FitnessConnect lets consumers know that a fitness professional is currently certified by the organization they list as their certification body, Davis adds. "This is the first time that the consumer has had the ability to check on the validity of all 15 accredited certifications from The National Commission for Certification Agencies (NCCA) on one website. It also verifies certifications that are not accredited by the NCCA. IDEA FitnessConnect makes it simple for the consumer to find a qualified fitness professional in their neighborhood."


For more information on IDEA FitnessConnect, please visit


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PC Advocate of the Month


 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.


American Taekwondo Association

Every day nearly 200,000 child, teen and adult students in American Taekwondo Association (ATA) schools across the country follow a steady and incremental yet sometimes awe-inspiring pathway. It leads to self-confidence, self-respect, noble character, a keen mind and strong, flexible body through rigorous, professional training in the traditional martial art of Songahm Taekwondo. Certified Instructors at independently owned and operated schools make the exercise fun, safe, interesting and always progressing toward individual goals. 


ATAATA founder Haeng Ung Lee's personal motto "Today Not Possible, Tomorrow Possible" reflects his idea that every person can do incredible things with patience and sincere effort. Over 225 Masters, 3,100 Instructors, 150,000 Black Belts, and a million students worldwide have learned the truth of his philosophy. ATA trains martial artists who serve well in diverse leadership situations. Learn how Songahm Taekwondo is creating leaders to meet the(N)eeds of (O)ur (World) at!


Traditional Taekwondo is the centerpiece of every ATA school. The physical and mental benefits are always tangible and often truly remarkable! Many ATA schools also offer Leadership programs for kids and adults, training in traditional weapons like long staff and stick, self-defense, bullying prevention and many other specialty classes  and other martial arts disciplines. Three national tournaments and one World Championships, plus dozens of sanctioned regional and in-school tournaments, camps and seminars give ATA students frequent opportunities to compete for self-improvement and personal victory.


Goals of the President's Challenge are in complete accord with those of the American Taekwondo Association's licensed schools and clubs. Grand Master Soon Ho Lee, the Founder's Council, and other senior leaders assert their commitment to combating obesity for people of all ages and to inspiring lifelong habits of good health by promoting this program. ATA encourages school owners to incorporate the President's Challenge into their curriculums so that all students (as well as friends and family members) may become winners of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award or Presidential Champion medals along with their Taekwondo training.


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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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