The Nak’azdli Health Centre has started a 12-week fitness challenge that’s open to everyone in the community; something that has Community Wellness Workers Maria Riske and Cebo Tom excited.
“It’s based on the 21 Day Fix,” says Tom, who started doing the program himself and wanted to share it with others. For the first 21 days participants work out every weekday from 4:00-4:30 pm at Kwah Hall, and on Friday afternoons are given a challenge for the weekend. During the second 21 day set the workouts increase to 45 minutes a day; a dance segment, which encourages participants to move, comes next. Short yoga and meditation sessions will also be added. “We want to change it up every few weeks,” says Riske.
“It’s about helping to break bad habits and get into good ones,” says Tom. Riske notes that participants work with the centre’s nurse practitioner for before and after tests measuring cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and kidney function. Participants also have “before” pictures taken and their weight and measurements noted when they start, so they can see the difference at the end. To achieve that, there’s more than just physical activity involved.
“It’s not only about exercise—it’s about healthy eating too,” says Tom. They provide healthy eating tips; often something as simple as encouraging people to drink more water, says Riske, or eat more green vegetables.
The program is designed to fit all age groups and fitness levels. The exercises can be modified, and participants are encouraged to go at their own pace, with Tom and Riske there to provide advice and support. They also encourage participants to “buddy up” with someone else. “As soon as they start to get sore, some people want to quit,” says Tom. “Your buddy is there to support you.” A nutritionist is available to be consulted if people want to learn more about healthy eating.
The fitness challenge is a partnership between the health centre and the Chief and Council, and marks the first time the program has been offered here. Riske hopes they can do it again when this challenge ends, with the focus on another aspect of the medicine wheel. “Mental wellness would be the next stage, in conjunction with physical fitness,” she says. She’s pleased that it’s open to everyone, “I want the community to connect without boundaries. Social wellness is also a part of health.”
Tom says that while it would be great for everyone to make it to every workout, people will make time and come when they can. He hopes there’s a ripple effect, with others finding out about the program and deciding they want to do it too. “I hope the participants will notice a difference and feel a change by the end of it,” he says. “And I hope others will follow us.”
The challenge began on Aug. 4, and 20 people have signed up so far, but there’s room for more. Riske encourages anyone who’s interested to sign up soon, as participants get points for meeting various challenges. Those points add up, and who knows? “Santa might come,” she says with a laugh.
Sessions take place every weekday at Kwah Hall. For more information contact Maria Riske or Cebo Tom at (250) 996-7400.