James and Ernie promote healthy living in Tuba City

James and Ernie (kneeling) pose with members of the Tuba City Wellness Center staff. James and Ernie were in Tuba City for a performance and stopped by the center to workout (Courtesy photo).

James and Ernie (kneeling) pose with members of the Tuba City Wellness Center staff. James and Ernie were in Tuba City for a performance and stopped by the center to workout (Courtesy photo).

TUBA CITY- Navajo Comedians, James June and Ernie Tsoise III, better known as James and Ernie, stopped by the Tuba City/Mungapi Family Wellness Center on Friday, March 2 to get their daily workout in before performing at the Tuba City Community Center later that evening.

James and Ernie are committed to living a healthy lifestyle by staying physically fit and eating healthy, even when they travel. The dynamic duo needed a place to do their workout regime, so arrangements were made with Tuba City Wellness Center Director Mary Bradley to have them stop by and take advantage of their services.

The pair was given a tour of the 6,000 square foot facility that is equipped with a full-size kitchen, an adjacent education room, weight room, cardio room, group exercise room, child care room, and locker rooms that are equipped with showers and dry saunas. Located outside the facility are a modern hogan, male and female sweats and a healing garden.

"Awesome," Ernie stated. "This is great and what it is all about, offering these services to the people. The kitchen within the facility is very impressive...preparing and teaching about the foods we eat." Once the tour was over, the pair began their workout.

Their workout consisted of strength training and a cardio workout that took about an hour, which is all it takes each day-three to four times a week-for the average person. In addition, making healthier food choices will help to begin your journey and help you stay on the path of a healthy lifestyle.

"This is what the Wellness Center teaches and encourages for those that [wish to] use our services," stated Bradley.

"It is 80 percent mental," stated James referring to stepping in the doors and utilizing what is available to begin a healthy way of life.

Both James and Ernie are former substance abusers and know what it is like taking the first step towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They deliver positive messages in their shows by promoting healthy lifestyle choices. They use their own lives and stories as examples. These are their weapons in their fight against destructive, negative lifestyle that plague Native peoples.

When asked about rating the facility James replied, "Four and a half stars out of five."

Ernie added, "It is equivalent to the well known Bally's off the reservation. Even though the Wellness Center is lacking a couple pieces of equipment and using older treadmills, a person can begin and sustain their workouts effectively to achieve their goals."

James mentioned that with the equipment available at the Wellness Center, adjustments could be made to an individual workout. "It is all based on how to meet the needs and the level a person wants to achieve. The Wellness Center has that," he said.

"James and Ernie are key role models-examples-of what one can achieve in their life. Not only by the message they continually, but by living a healthy lifestyle. Their expressions of being Native American, living the life of a Native American and facing the challenges that they have faced and face every day is brought out in their performance," stated Bradley.

The Wellness Center's mission is to promote happy healthy lifestyles, which is achieved by balancing the mind, body and spirit and by connecting health, diet, physical activity, and attitude to combat many diseases that Native Americans are faced with today. The Tuba City Wellness Center seeks to inspire people to live in harmony through living healthier lifestyles and establishing a working understanding of and respecting a person's culture and tradition. Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are the main focuses. The services that the Wellness Center provides could not be accomplished without annual funding from the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project.

The program was established within the Navajo Nation and was the first of its kind established with these funds. The Wellness Center opened its doors in 2000 through a subcontract agreement with the Navajo Nation to address tßhe prevalence of diabetes among Native Americans.

It is a well-known fact that Type 2 diabetes among Native Americans is more than four times the national average, and the cost per person through managed healthcare ranges from $5,000 to $9,000 annually. The cost for patients on dialysis is close to $90,000 per person.

"We don't want diabetes deemed acceptable or inevitable when it can be prevented through our choice to pursue a healthy lifestyle," says Bradley. "This is truly one aspect of a battle that each person faces today and [it] is a part of our survival. It begins with the choices we make and what outcomes result from those choices. It begins with taking a healthy path."

The Wellness Center is a non-profit organization that is controlled by a board of directors from our community. The board saw a health need and developed a vision to assist the individual to become self-sufficient. They sought funding to establish and sustain the center and offer services in prevention and intervention through fitness and nutrition education. The center established partnerships and networked with the local community and communities throughout the region to established services in outlying areas that do not have these services.

Provision of services to those communities is possible through availability and receipt of funding and the networking with partners from those communities. Programs have been established in the Center that work directly with clients that are diagnosed with diabetes. There is a program that works directly with clients that are obese and there is an after-school program.

The center has a group classes in exercise. There are walking programs, basic nutrition classes and diabetes prevention information sessions that are offered. Each summer, the center offers a youth enrichment program. Some programs can be offered to the outlying communities via satellite during tel-medicine classes. These classes are held at the Wellness Center and televised to other through our partnership with the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation. The center also does presentations in fitness and nutrition education at health fairs and other community events.

This is an overview of what the Tuba City Wellness Center offers to individuals wishing to pursue a more healthy way of living. The Wellness Center has grown in service provisions toward assisting people and addressing their health needs. For more information call 928-283-2932 or write to P.O. Box 1488 in Tuba City.

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