Official Newsletter of the President's Challenge
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Welcome to the January 2013 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 physical activity, nutrition and fitness.

In This Issue. . . 


     Get Informed

Get Active

Get Nutritious

Get Inspired

Get Involved


President's Challenge News


Presidential Youth Fitness Program Logo

Monthly Webinar: Health-Related Fitness Before and After SchoolMonthlyWebinar

In our last webinar, you increased your understanding of health-related fitness and learned why we do fitness assessment. Register for this month's webinar to learn more about administering the FITNESSGRAM® health assessment before and after school.


Join us January 29, 2013

1:00-2:00 pm EST 


Register Now for Monthly PYFP Webinar  



If you missed any of our previous webinars, you can catch them on the PYFP YouTube Channel!


Take the President's Challenge Annual Fitness Is Fun SurveySurveyInformed

WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! Help us provide the information, programs, and services you want by taking our multiple choice SURVEY.  


What is Body Composition?BodyComp   

This short two minute educational vignette produced by The Cooper Institute® describes body composition in fundamental, non-scientific terms to help teachers and students understand how FITNESSGRAM® assesses body composition, and what variables control your body composition.  


What is Body Composition?
What is Body Composition?


President's Challenge Gym MatProduct
Presiden'ts Challenge folding gym mat is comfortable and convenient.
Our 2' x 6' folding gym mat with handles makes it easy for you to exercise indoors and on the go this winter! The mat also tucks away in a closet or corner when you're done. The comfy 1.5" mat will help you stay committed to your yoga practice and stretching. A screen-printed President's Challenge logo adorns the royal blue cover.





For information on how to order the Gym Mat or any of our other merchandise, visit our  online shopping center.   


Meet Student Employee Amanda ShieldsStudentEmployee


President's Challenge student employee Amanda Shiels holds her dog. Informatics major Amanda Shields loves working at President's Challenge because of the people she gets to work with. Her role as website specialist allows Amanda to practice the customer service aspect of her career aspiration to become a software consultant. As a website specialist, she is building her experience with technical issues by answering questions about Fitness File and the President's Challenge website.  


Amanda says, "Technology is still a man's world, and being a woman in technology is fun but also nerve racking. Overall, I feel like it's a great thing and it makes me feel good, too. When I tell people about my major and what I'd like to do with my future, the responses I get are, 'Wow! It's great to see a woman so interested in technology,' and 'It's great to see more women in the field'."


Computer smarts are only one side of the President's Challenge well-rounded website specialist. Amanda also pursues minors in sociology and music. She is mainly a vocal performer but also plays trumpet, flute, alto saxophone, and piano. Amanda holds, "Informatics and music go together. You have to think very logically for both. Creating music and code is very similar because you work really hard, and once you are done you either have an amazing musical piece or great code that makes an awesome program."


Amanda stays in shape by walking, jogging, or playing with her puppy for thirty minutes twice a day-and sometimes more when the weather is nice!


Upcoming Events and OpportunitiesEvents  


Healthy Weight Week 

January 20-26, 2013



The 20th annual Healthy Weight Week is a time to celebrate healthy diet-free living habits that last a lifetime and prevent eating and weight problems.  Our bodies cannot be shaped at will, but we can all be accepting, healthy and happy at our natural weights.


26th Annual Share the Wealth Conference 

January 24-26, 2013

Jekyll Island, GA


Get great new ideas and network with fabulous physical educators from across the country at this conference sponsored by GAHPERD.


PCFSN Community Leadership Award Nominations

PCFSN Lifetime Achievement Award Nominations

Due February 1, 2013



Final submissions are due for the PCFSN Community Leadership & Lifetime Achievement Awards. For the Community Leadership Award, nominate an individual or organization that provides or enhances opportunities to engage in sports, physical activity, fitness, or nutrition-related programs within a community. For the Lifetime Achievement Award, nominate an individual whose career has greatly contributed to the promotion or advancement of physical activity, fitness, sports, or nutrition nationwide.


New Partners for Smart Growth

February 7-9, 2013

Kansas City, MO


The 12th annual conference will explore practical strategies for identifying and overcoming barriers to more sustainable development in the Midwest and the rest of the nation. The conference's trip to the Midwest underscores an expansive diversity ripe for innovative smart-growth strategies and opportunities for industrial big cities, suburban neighborhoods, small towns and rural agriculture stretching across the Great Plains to the Great Lakes to the Rust Belt to Appalachia.


Partnership for a Healthy America Building A Healthier Future Summit  

March 6-8, 2013

Washington, DC


Join more than 1,000 leaders from public, private and non-profit organizations, all committed to solving the childhood obesity crisis in America.


Safe Routes to School National Conference 

August 13-15, 2013

Sacramento, CA


Learn how Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs across the country are changing the habits of an entire generation of school children and their families. Transportation professionals, SRTS advocates, program representatives, elected officials and community members will connect with colleagues to discuss ideas, resources, projects and noteworthy practices to enhance work that is creating more active children and safer communities nationwide.


  Back to Top   Get Informed   Get Active   Get Nutritious  Get Inspired  Get Involved

GET ACTIVE! Getactive


A woman holds a yoga pose in her wheelchair.
Photo courtesy of

   Chair Yoga for EveryoneChairYoga


Chair Yoga focuses on the breathing and meditative aspects of the discipline. It also relieves stress and increases mobility, circulation, and core muscle tone. While it borrows and adapts poses from Hatha yoga, it has no complex maneuvers, making it an excellent exercise for body and mind for everyone-regardless of age or ability. It can be as beneficial to those who spend the majority of their time sitting or traveling.


Plenty of resources are available to guide you through chair yoga routines-from YouTube videos, DVDs at your local library, inexpensive iPhone and Android apps, and classes. Visit to find an appropriate yoga class near you or contact a local senior center for class options .


Enjoy this introduction to chair yoga by University of California TV:

Yoga for Everyone: Intro to Gentle Chair Yoga 
Yoga for Everyone: Intro to Gentle Chair Yoga

Guest Column


Bringing Winter Sports into the School GymWinterSportsGym

By Amy Suman, MS, CPT, PE Teacher, Griegos Elementary, Albuquerque, NM


Winter sports are the best part about cold weather: skiing, ice-skating, sledding, and having snowball battles are just a few of my favorites! These activities provide opportunities for cardiovascular exercise, as well as balance, coordination, strength and flexibility. However, as teachers it simply isn't financially feasible to take our students to a snow-covered mountain or a frozen lake to enjoy winter activities, so it's up to us teachers to bring the mountains and frozen lakes right into the gym! Here are some fun activities that celebrate the wintry weather and recruit many of the same muscle groups as the traditional winter sports, but without the frostbite!


Winter Triathalon: Ice-Skating, Sledding, and Skiing In teams of three, the first student will "skate" (using the lateral motion of a speed skater) on scarves or in sock feet to the next student, who will use a scooter to "sled" to the last student who will sprint and perform skier jumps over a cone ten times. This game can be repeated so that each student has a chance to try all three winter sports.


Bobsled Races/Reindeer Games In teams of three or four have students sit on scooters with their legs in the lap of the child in front of them. One child pushes the sled from the back and "drives" it to finish line. The driver then hops on as a new driver (a previous rider) takes over as the driver, or "reindeer". Race continues until all students have had a chance to be the driver.


Snowball Battle In teams of three to five, have students use gym mats to build "igloos" or forts. They can decide on strategy, such as which students will be offense and which will be defense. Distribute soft small balls (even balled-up socks work) to each team and let the battle begin! The team with the least amount of snowballs in their fort can be declared the winner, or, the battle can be for a certain period of time to amp up their cardiorespiratory endurance.


All of these activities use different muscle groups and multiple planes of motion, which increase overall fitness and neuromuscular recruitment. Of course, your students won't know that because they will be having too much fun getting fit and playing on the "mountain' and "frozen lake" of your gym floor!






Black Eyed Peas for Good Luck and Good Health in the New Year


Black-eyed peas are nutritious and good luck in the new year.
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's has been considered good luck for centuries. Originally a celebratory food at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, black-eyed peas provide a healthy dose of potassium, zinc, and fiber. Good luck is sure to follow when the New Year begins with a healthy start!



  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ large green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 pound cooked ham cut into cubes (optional)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with chilis
  • Salt, black pepper, cayenne, cumin, thyme, Cajun seasoning, and hot pepper sauce to taste
  • Cover peas with water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse well.
  • Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, and bell peppers, and cook until onion is translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add peas and broth. Bring to a boil and skim off and discard any foam on the surface.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about two hours. After an hour, add the cooked cubed ham and continue cooking.
  • Season with spices to taste. Remember to not add salt until the peas have cooked completely.
  • If you desire a thicker, creamier texture, carefully puree some of the cooked peas in small batches in a blender and return to the pot.
Serve with rice and a side of collard greens.

Jumpstart Those ResolutionsWeCan

  We Can--ways to enhance children's activity and nutrition  

If you are like many people, January 1 marks the day that you and your family  planned to eat healthier and become more active. Even if you haven't started, it is never too late to jumpstart your New Year's resolutions. 


Here are some tips to get you back on track:


1.) Start at the grocery store! Knowing what to shop for can make eating healthier easier. The We Can!'s  Go, Slow, Whoa Food Chart can provide you with additional guidance. By adding more "Go" foods-whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy products, and other foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients-to your grocery list, you can create family meals that are delicious and healthy.


2.) Watch your portion size! Understanding the difference between portion size - the amount of food or drink that you decide to consume - and serving size - a measured amount of food or drink, like one slice of bread - is another way to help your family maintain a healthy weight. It is important to also look at at the Nutrition Facts Label, which can help you see how many servings are in a particular food package.


3.) Stay active! Take advantage of the winter activities like ice-skating or make shoveling snow a family activity. If the cold weather keeps you inside, try activities like having a family dance party or a sit-up competition.


To learn more about how your family can eat healthier and move more in the new year, visit: 



GET INSPIRED!Getinspired


Participant SpotlightParticipantSpotlight


Monica Whittle: Keeping Active During the Winter


Monica Whittle holds tree of life yoga pose

Over the past year, Monica Whittle lost twenty pounds. She walked briskly three times a week for an hour and kept her caloric intake at 1500. She likes the change she sees in her figure and most of all, feeling healthier and livelier. During her journey, two of the biggest obstacles were: 


Finding the time to walk during the winter months. Monica's workday ends at 6 pm making it difficult to walk when it's cold and dark. That is when she turned to yoga practice. Luckily, winter months in the south only last about three months, allowing her to create a routine that included yoga and walking.  


Coping with her husband's heart disease. For many weeks, she lived at the hospital by her husband's side. In the midst of the emotional and physical stress that Monica was going through, she found the time to exercise with brisk walks up and down steps and around the hospital floors. In addition to helping reach her fitness goals, it was a great way to relieve stress.  


Monica finds motivation to stay healthy both from her family and from within. The health journey has definitely been a lifestyle change. She now admits to feeling guilty when she's not able to get outdoors to get moving. Her 22 year-old son played college football for three years and is now a certified fitness trainer at a local gym. Her other two boys, 19 and 16, are very active physically. They are great role models. She says, "If they can exercise daily, then so can I." Monica's husband, a heart disease survivor, keeps her going because she knows that when she's outside moving, it gets him moving. He's lost weight in the process and is now walking an hour a day five days a week.


Monica plans to continue to be active this winter. This includes both indoor yoga Monica Whittle holds the yoga child's pose. and outdoor walking. Twice a week, she does yoga for an hour using her iPhone yoga app.  On the weekends, when the weather is moderate, Monica and her husband take a morning walk at the local park. Since walks are limited to the weekends, they walk for a little longer on Saturday and Sunday-about an hour and a half each time. Depending upon the speed, they can cover three to four and a half miles in that time.


To help maintain their caloric intake while consuming the foods they enjoy, Monica and her husband incorporate low calorie foods as part of their afternoon and evening snacks or cut the portion size in half. For example, when watching an evening TV show, they snack on air-popped popcorn (no butter or salt) or cut-up apples or raw celery dipped in a little peanut butter.  They also limit their intake of sugar and calories from fruit juice by making homemade lemonade and unsweetened tea. When the craving hits for something like an ice cream bar, they share it. Moderation has become their mantra. Balancing food wishes between husband and wife has not been difficult because Monica and her husband like the same kinds of food. She notices that when they start to slip, that they will announce their faults out loud as a reminder to keep each other in check. "Oh my gosh! I know I shouldn't be eating this. I have to do better."  


Monica emphasizes that a healthy attitude is key. She says, "Sometimes we do fall off the moderation food wagon, but tomorrow's a new day. A new day to get it right. We never beat ourselves up about it-just pick up the pieces and move forward."


WNBA and Wimbledon Legends Start Fight 2B Fit Challenge

and Honors its First National ChampionFight2BFit


Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign and her call to community leaders to provide opportunities both during and after school, WNBA Legend Sue Wicks started The Fight 2B Fit Challenge. Fight 2B Fit provides an innovative way to harness the appeal of gaming and social media that encourages physical activity and teamwork.


With the support of the United Way of Essex and Hudson County and the YMCA of Newark, 250 students in Los Angeles and New Jersey competed in the first ever Fight 2B Fit Challenge in Fall of 2012. The six-week program is hosted by a unique interactive website that monitors the individual's and home and competing teams' progress in real-time. Participants log on to an interactive website for daily exercises, quizzes and challenges to score points as tasks are completed. "Fight 2B Fit challenges the idea that computers contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic by joining technological literacy and physical fitness together," says founder and Chief Exercise Officer, Sue Wicks.


Tennis Legend Anne White, a national singles champion at USC and 8-time Wimbledon player, spoke to students at the opening ceremony for The Episcopal School of Los Angeles about the importance of being active, staying healthy and teamwork. She visited the students at the 3-week mark to award interim prizes for completing challenges like the "Fresh Fruit Challenge" and the "Fizz-Free Challenge," in which kids pledge not to drink soda for a whole day.


Fight 2B Fit honored The Episcopal School of Los Angeles as overall winner. Hays Johnson of ESLA received a gold medal and "The Fight 2B Fit 2012 National Champion" trophy for scoring the most points as an individual at an award ceremony in November. Teachers, parents and participants gave the new program glowing reviews. For more information visit


Watch some of the video shot over the 6 week challenge:  

Fight 2B Fit Challenge 
Fight 2B Fit Challenge


Advocate of the MonthAdvocate


Hindu American Seva Communities

Hindu American Seva Charities Logo  

Seva refers to selfless service for the betterment of a community. Hindu American Seva Communities (HASC) unites diverse faith and secular communities in social equity projects for grassroots social change and the creation of healthy communities. In addition to their environmental, leadership, and poverty and hunger-fighting projects, HASC is committed to supporting the mission of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition through the promotion of yoga, meditation and nutrition. Learn more about HASC.





VOTE in the End Childhood Obesity Innovation ChallengeObesityInnovation


Earlier this fall, the Partnership for a Healthier America asked people to submit a Partnership for a Healthier America Logo 2-minute video explaining their idea to end the childhood obesity epidemic. Reviewers scored all entries, and ten semi-finalists were chosen based on originality, perceived effectiveness, feasibility, scale, and ability to reach the most at-risk populations. Help pick three finalists by voting for your favorite ideas on the PHA Facebook page. Vote for as many semi-finalists as you think deserve it, but you can only vote for a video once.


Finalists will be flown to DC to pitch their ideas to a thousand attendees of the Building a Healthier Future Summit March 6-8, 2013. The grand prize winner will receive the tools they need to turn their idea into reality-expert advice from some of the top marketing, health entrepreneur, business services and media organizations around, and $10,000 with which to do it.


To play a small role in addressing childhood obesity, simply watch a few short videos, pick the ones you like best and get your friends to vote. To attend the summit, register here.



Take the President's Challenge Annual Fitness Is Fun SurveySurveyInvolved

WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! Help us provide the information, programs, and services you want by taking our multiple choice SURVEY.

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