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Fitness gym back in action on Hay River Reserve

Brooklyn Cayen, the recreation assistant with K'atlodeeche First Nation, supervises the fitness gym in the Dene Wellness and Development Centre on the Hay River Reserve. Right now, the gym is open on Wednesday evenings for KFN members. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

A gym that was created on the Hay River Reserve in late 2019 had been open for only a short time before it was closed because of Covid restrictions.

That has changed as K'atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) has begun to promote the fitness gym, located in the Dene Wellness and Development Centre.

Sharon Pekok, the recreation director with KFN, said the gym initially opened in late 2019 and operated until Covid-19 restrictions arrived last spring.

"And then we shut it down," she said.

Pekok said the gym was reopened about a month ago, and is now available one evening a week from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesdays.

"Last time, we had it open Mondays and Wednesdays," she said. "We just wanted to see how much interest there is in it."

Brooklyn Cayen, the recreation assistant with KFN, said three people normally show up on Wednesday evenings to use the gym, which has a limit of six users.

Cayen supervises the gym — which consists of three rooms at the wellness centre — and she occasionally also uses the equipment herself.

"Sometimes, if I don't have anything to do and I'm here," she said.

Cayen said it is nice in the gym, and people can arrange private visits to work out.

"It's pretty cool," she said. "It's pretty laid back."

One room features three treadmills, a stationary bike and a recumbent bike. Another room contains a punching bag and space for a yoga mat, while the final room has an elliptical machine and various types of weights.

"People come in and use the treadmill quite a bit, more that than anything else, I think," said Cayen.

Pekok said she would like to see the fitness gym used by more people, including elders.

"Once this Covid thing is over, I'd like to have an open house and invite people to come and be part of it," she said. "If there's enough people interested, I think you could have someone coming here to help them train."

The gym is open for free to KFN members 18 years of age and over.

"Right now, it's just for the First Nation, just to be on the safe side because we have to restrict who can come on the reserve during this time," said Pekok.
The gym is also available over lunch to staff members of KFN.

Pekok said the gym fits in well with the goals of the Dene Wellness and Development Centre.