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Thursday, Sep 22, 2016

Berkshire students take on Kontoh Fitness for self-confidence, for themselves

The daily workout group, Kontoh Fitness, is a campus staple at Berkshire Farm Center in Canaan, NY, a residential treatment center where adolescent youth learn how to care for their bodies and minds. Youth Care Counselor, Kwaku Kontoh, noticed soon into his career at Berkshire that youth on campus needed something positive to look forward to each day that would keep them engaged in their required recreational programs and ultimately boost their confidence. A self-proclaimed fitness fanatic himself, the answer became clear.

image“No questions, no suggestions”
Kontoh Fitness quickly emerged as one of the most popular recreational programs on campus, drawing in more students each night to the workout group that starts promptly at 5:00 p.m. every day after school. Kontoh uses the motivational phrase, "No questions; no suggestions," to keep students working hard, when each workout is completely new to them. This tactic ejects students out of their comfort zones and prepares them to address future situations clear heads and confidence.

Without realizing it, they are committing themselves to a daily life skills course rife with lessons they can take with them long after their time at Berkshire ends. “My number one goal for Kontoh Fitness is to keep students engaged in their daily schedules, while giving them something different to look forward to that motivates them to do well,” said Kontoh. “The other goal is more personal—to build a healthy habit and take care of their bodies at a young age. I tell them that if they build this habit now, it will be second nature by the time they’re my age.”

Learning to adapt
Though the workout schedule is consistent, a typical Kontoh Fitness routine changes every day. A workout might include a few miles run to the lake, followed by sit-ups, push-ups, and then stair training, or students might be in for an afternoon of navigating around cones and getting some cardio in with jump ropes, and closing the night out with boxing. Kontoh keeps every night’s routine fresh not only to work different muscle groups, but also to get youth familiar with adapting to new challenges as they come.

To say that students are making progress physically and mentally would be an understatement. For some, a visible glow of confidence has appeared—the kind that not quickly extinguished. A few students are currently training for a 5K in late October, which they will run as proud members of Kontoh Fitness. “The way Kontoh says, ‘no questions, no suggestions,’ motivates me to keep going,” said Kontoh Fitness member Louis R. “I would tell other students that if they want to join, they need to be committed to working out every day. If they feel like they can’t finish the workout, there will be other students to tell them, ‘you can do it, just keep going. Don’t give up too soon.’”

If you would like to help Berkshire provide recreational activities for our youth with programs like Kontoh Fitness, please visit for more information about how to donate.  

—Sydney Lester

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