Sports & Recreation



Zumba participants (left) show their dance moves while they get a great workout with Annie. Photos taken by Kasey Kauakahi

Fitness Voluteers Help Keep SRPMIC In Shape

By Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

If you’ve been to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Fitness Center, you’re probably familiar with the staff instructors and trainers. As you may know, every month the Diabetes Program hosts group exercise classes for Community members and SRPMIC employees at no cost. Each day has different classes to target different parts of the body.

The Salt River Fitness Center also has volunteer instructors who help promote a healthy Community. These individuals willingly take time out of their day to help individuals working out at the Fitness Center, whether it’s with Zumba, boxing, spinning, capoeira or senior dance classes.

Each volunteer instructor sets different goals for their participants, has different ways of encouraging and motivating, and has a compelling story behind why they choose to spend their time at the Salt River Fitness Center.

The Fitness Center currently has six volunteers: Clifford Lopez, Beverly Stanley, Ernestine “Annie” Deer, Robin Mowers, Skyler “Sky” Martinez and Joey Jimenez. Sky Martinez and Annie Deer, both Zumba instructors, are profiled in this article; the remaining four will be featured in future articles.

Martinez is a member of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe. With hopes of inspiring others to also become volunteer instructors, one of Martinez’ goals is for his participants to attend and leave each class with good motivation, all while having fun. “I really like volunteering and helping people. Coming from a good home with good standards, my parents and grandparents always told me to be helpful to the people and you’ll always get something in return. They told me to be there [for the people] even if you don’t know them,” Martinez added.

“Don’t feel bad about how [you] look; [you’re fine] just the way [you] are. You don’t have to be a professional to do Zumba. Move at your own speed and [hopefully you’ll grow to] love it. I love dancing—it’s one of my passions,” said Martinez.
All the way from American Samoa, Deer has been volunteering at the Salt River Fitness Center for about three years now. She too has a passion for dance and music. She loves to choreograph a variety of different dances to her preferred island type of music.

One of Deer’s goals for her participants is “staying active [outside of Zumba].” One of her personal goals is weight loss. With her busy lifestyle—taking care of four children, including a newborn—Deer enjoys dancing with her participants and keeping them active, even if it’s just an hour.

“I see a [positive change] in [my participants], whether they know it or not. If they like the class, it’s comforting for me to know I’m right on [point] with my dance moves and hopefully they find it fun enough to come back,” Deer stated.

Deer’s life changed when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 14. After this point, she wanted to make a positive change with fitness and health, for herself and for the Community as well. She said, “[My] sugar level is stable when I dance. When I run or try to do anything else, my sugar drops. Dancing is the only thing that works for me, so I’m sure it’ll be the same for others in a [similar situation].”

“I would like to see the [diabetes] rate go down, and I would like to improve more on my choreography, learn other moves and make class fun for all,” added Deer.

“[The volunteers] make it easier for my staff. [With them] we have been able to expand more classes and we’ve been able to add different varieties. We’re able to have Zumba at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; we’ve never had classes during those times. [We have] accumulated a lot more participants. Our volunteers are all really great,” said Roberta Johnston, Diabetes Program manager.

Come out and join the fun; each instructor and class is different. Challenge your body, make healthier choices and tackle your health and fitness goals. Remember, being healthy and fit is the new trend today!

For more questions, call the Salt River Fitness Center at (480) 362-7320.

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