STONEY NAKODA – Chiniki, Bearspaw and Wesley nation members now have a new local gym option after the opening of the Stoney Health Services Community Fitness Centre on May 9.
“I know it can be a hassle for community members that want to work out, they have to go to Cochrane or Canmore or Banff and now that we have this gym open, it’s a very convenient way for members to come and utilize this equipment,” said Josh Mark, Stoney health promoter.
Unveiled last week as part of the Wathech, a healthy living initiative by Stoney Health Services, the new fitness centre is home to nine pieces of equipment including exercise bikes and ellipticals, along with a variety of weights.
“It’s a new beginning to be healthy,” elder Margaret Wesley said during her blessing of the new equipment and space.
Before the fitness centre opened, if Nation members wanted to utilize gym equipment, their closest options was Cochrane with fitness centres located more than 30 kilometres from the town site, or fitness centres in Canmore, located more than 45 km from the Morley town site.
“With the gym and the actual proximity of the community, it’s an easy gym to access,” Mark said, noting the fitness centre is at the Bearspaw Youth Centre located directly across from the Stoney Tribal Administration and Stoney Health Services Centre.
The rest of Wesley’s blessing was in the Stoney Nakoda language but Mark said the elder’s speech touched on the increase in diseases like “diabetes or heart disease or stroke” that can be seen in the elders and “sadly some of the children as well.
“I think it’s important to have that lifestyle of being active and eating healthy and with this program, we are trying to promote the Wathtech – healthy living and healthy eating and just staying active,” Mark said.
The new fitness centre is one of the recent Wathtech initiatives by Stoney Health Services that goes along with the three times a week walking group, the Sharing and Cooking with Stoney adults and elders monthly class, the monthly fall prevention clinic and other healthy living classes offered throughout the year.
Health Services officials also noted there will be a “food forest” planted in the community, similar to a community garden, in the summer and an outdoor gym was also being installed during the fitness centre
“OK, I tried it – I had fun,” said elder Jackie Rider, who skis with the youth at Spirit North, with a laugh after jumping on the elliptical.
The fitness centre will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4:15 p.m.
Stoney Nakoda First Nation members from all three bands and all ages are welcome to access the centre during those hours and there is no membership fee.