Rockell Stiles has seen the 360 degree view of nutrition and fitness in local schools, and the picture is not pretty for students who do not go to school on the Westside or the Valley.
“The food they are serving at schools is not the best, especially in the inner city. On the Westside and the Valley, they get fresh(vegetables and) fruit like strawberries, cantaloupe, and honey dew melons every day. Our kids are lucky if they get an orange one or two times a week,” said Stiles of what she has seen in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
Couple that with the virtual elimination of physical education in public schools, and parents working two and three jobs and relying on fast food meals to accommodate their time crunch, and you have a population of young people who are obese, suffering high levels of diabetes, and who are projected to have the shortest life span in four generations, according to Stiles, who has worked in schools throughout the LAUSD in a variety of capacities.
All of these factors combined, made the Los Angeles-raised woman realize something needed to be done.
“Children need 60 minutes a day (of physical activity) to burn fat, and they weren’t getting that,” pointed out Stiles, who combined forces with her brother Reggie Stiles to create a non-profit fitness studio and school program.
Project Fit Kids, which was four years in the making, was born in September of last year and has already been used at two local charter schools.
“The program teaches kids about their body, health, nutrition, and we do fitness with them. We also talk about eating healthy, and making the right choices as far as food,” explained Stiles, who said her brother has been in the fitness business more than 20 years.
The goal is to offer Project Fit Kids to schools at no charge and to get the cost ($5,000 to $6,000 for a group of about 30 youth) underwritten by local corporations, foundations or businesses.
The cost will cover snacks, water, class materials, marketing and staff salaries.
At the studio, which is located at 112 N. La Brea Ave. in Inglewood, Stiles said they offer low-cost fitness, dance, karate, personal training, cardio exercise classes as well as an invention by her brother called Karobics to people ages 4 to 104.
Stiles said she is particularly passionate about reaching African American children because, “we as a community don’t exercise enough. And, it’s not really a socio-economic issue because walking in the park is free.”
“I’m hoping we can educate children at a young age that this (physical activity) is not a option but a requirement, if they want to live into their 80s and 90s.”
For more information on Project Fit Kids, contact Stiles at (310) 673-PFIT (7348) or write 112 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, CA 90302.