A personal trainer in the Detroit area is making it his mission to give kids tools to combat bullies with something besides their fists.
Ryan Spiteri of Garage Muscle in Madison Heights, Michigan, is using his personal training skills to help local kids use confidence, self-esteem and strength as weapons against bullying.
"It's easy to say that something needs to be done,'' Spiteri told Jenna Wolfe on TODAY Monday. "Not enough people step up and actually do something."
The father of three, who often found himself breaking up fights between teens in town, works regularly with students who are being bullied daily. Reid Wilson, 13, has been enrolled in the program for three months, taking 60-minute classes focused on building up his body — and his self-esteem.
"I don't have many friends at school, well, I have a lot of friends, but I just come here and I feel so much better when I'm done,'' Wilson told Wolfe. "It's not just about what people say, it's just about how you feel."
"I feel confident because I come out there stronger, positive and happy because I feel like I can be myself,'' another student, Victoria Fuller, said on TODAY. "I'm equal to everybody else."
One out of every four students in the United States report being bullied during the school year, mainly in middle school, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 84 percent of all students say they have observed name-calling and teasing of students perceived as overweight during physical activity. Spiteri's goal is to give kids the confidence to withstand those forces.
"They're bettering their lives for the future and they don't even know it,'' Spiteri said.
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