Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

THHS Fitness centers offer more than lifting weights

By B.L. Azure
THHS
Public Information Officer

Besides helping people with their exercise regimen, Tribal Health fitness center employee Alan Prindel is able to keep on top of his diabetes with exercise and education. (B.L. Azure photo) Besides helping people with their exercise regimen, Tribal Health fitness center employee Alan Prindel is able to keep on top of his diabetes with exercise and education. (B.L. Azure photo)

ST. IGNATIUS — There’s more than what meets the eyes at first glance at the Tribal Health and Human Services fitness centers. Besides offering physical training opportunities and advice to the public, and diabetes information to diabetics the THHS fitness centers offer employment opportunities for tribal members.

Alan Prindel, 32, of Arlee is an example. The married father and wife Rolanda are parents to 18-month of twins, Katlin and Donavin. Alan is involved in the Fatherhood Program located in Ronan that is paying for six months of job training at the THHS fitness centers.

“We have been advertising for a new fitness center position,” said Margene Asay, THHS fitness centers manager. “The goal of the new position is to serve as a rover to help out the other centers when they need an extra hand.”

The six-month Fatherhood Program employment contract allows Asay to kick the tires, so to speak, of potential hires at no charge to the fitness center budget. It works well for both parties, she said because potential employees can evaluate whether the job is right for them.

For Prindel the job is a perfect fit for his young family.

“This has really helped us out financially. I can keep gas in my pickup, food on the table and diapers on my babies,” Prindel said. “This is a good positive kind of job to have, very interesting. I have met a lot of different people both on this staff and members of the public. I think I have good people skills and I am able to use them in this position. It feels good to have a job especially in the winter.”

Prindel was recently diagnosed with Type-I diabetes; it runs in his family. The job gives him the opportunity to learn more about the condition and ways to combat it via a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy nutritional diet and corresponding exercise routine.

“The fitness center has a diabetic room with all the things a diabetic needs,” Prindel said, adding that his diabetic diagnosis blindsided him even though it runs in his family. “A year ago I wasn’t feeling well, I lacked my usual energy, I didn’t have any idea what was going on. I finally went to the doctor and was kept in the hospital (St. Patrick) doing tests for a week. When I was told I had Type I diabetes it came as a big surprise. I was not overweight and was physically fit. I never thought I would get diabetes. Now I take insulin two times a day. I advise people to come in and work out because diabetes can strike anybody anytime. The best medicine is to keep active and have a good diet.”

The THHS fitness centers were developed in part to combat diabetes among tribal people. Most of the fitness equipment at the fitness centers was purchased with funds from a diabetes prevention and education grant.

“We offer various types of fitness training with nutritional components,” said Arles Hendrickson, St. Ignatius fitness center manager. She said fitness center staff receives additional training at least twice a year on the latest advances in fitness training, diabetes information and nutrition. “Working out is like preventive medicine for the body and it makes you feel good too.”

And in some cases it keeps babies in diapers with healthy nutritional food on the table and that feels good too.

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