First Family’s Personal Trainer Takes Pride in Chicago Students’ Physical Activity Achievements

December 06, 2011 | Written By:

Recently, the HSC team spoke with Cornell McClellan, personal trainer to the First Family of the United States, at a celebration where he applauded the 2,200 Chicago Public Schools students who completed the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) challenge to be physically active for 60 minutes daily for six weeks.

In June, McClellan played a key role in the Champions for Wellness professional development event hosted by HSC and Chicago Public Schools, announcing the challenge to physical education teachers who stepped up to become wellness leaders in their schools. He happily returned to see the effort come full circle as Chicago Public School students completed the challenge.

“I am so honored to be involved in this,” he said. “So many of these kids get it. . . I’m just so happy to be here at Robert Black Elementary to help award the kids their PALAs.” 

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Cornell McClellan with Robert A. Black physical instructor Jill White and young PALA recipients

“I’ve very excited about this!” he said. “This is where we’re trying to go. We’re trying to make sure everyone and their families are active. We’re going to end childhood obesity in a generation!” 

McClellan hopes the country will be inspired by Chicago’s efforts and the achievements of the young PALA participants.

“It’s fitting that it is in Chicago, our home town, the president and first lady’s home town,” he said. “It's great to know that what they’re doing for all kids is happening in their home town. It means a lot to us that it's here.” A Chicago native himself, McClellan added, “I’m happy to see my city representing!”

The fitness leader also shared the PALA+ challenge in which participants meet daily nutrition goals in addition to being physically active every day.

“What it is asking you to do is to still be active,” he explained. “Now [with PALA+] we’re asking you to slow down on sugary drinks and drink more water. Make half of your plate grains and vegetables and read those labels. Slow the sodium down; make the portions smaller and things of that nature.” 


For more information, visit and take the PALA and PALA + Challenge!

For more information about Chicago’s efforts to elevate school fitness, check out Go for the Gold.

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