Thursday, 18 May 2017 23:42

Exercise specialist advocates for her community’s health

Certified Personal Trainer Gay Dawn Pinnecoose demonstrates a seated dumbbell chest press at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, where she works.|Certified Personal Trainer Gay Dawn Pinnecoose spots her daughter and Youth Program Coordinator, Penelope Pinnecoose, as she does a dumbbell chest press at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake.||| Certified Personal Trainer Gay Dawn Pinnecoose demonstrates a seated dumbbell chest press at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, where she works.|Certified Personal Trainer Gay Dawn Pinnecoose spots her daughter and Youth Program Coordinator, Penelope Pinnecoose, as she does a dumbbell chest press at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake.||| ||||

By Elizabeth Gamarra / Photos by David Ricketts

Gay Dawn Pinnecoose grew up in Wyoming doing physical ranch work and playing modified sports games with her six siblings. From elementary school through her freshman year in high school, she would run almost one mile every day to catch the school bus at 6:30 a.m.

Today, with a bachelor’s degree in exercise sports science from the University of Utah, Pinnecoose serves as an advocate for healthy lifestyles for her American Indian/Alaskan Native community. This brings fulfillment to her life. “I believe exercise is medicine; it can help prevent chronic diseases and improve one’s wellbeing,” she said.

Pinnecoose is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of Wind River Indian Reservation, Fort Washakie, Wyoming, and moved to Utah in 1982. She has coached and taught recreational sports in the west Salt Lake area ever since she moved here with her family from the Ute Indian Reservation in 1991.

Pinnecoose has been employed through the University of Utah, National Youth Sports Program, and the Salt Lake City School District. She currently works as an IT Site Manager, Exercise Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, where she coordinates group fitness, individual exercise, and gives presentations to American Indian/Alaskan Native communities.

The Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake has a gym for clients and employees to use during work hours and whenever the trainer is available. To improve employee wellness, they encourage staff to join their Healthier You Personal Challenge, in which employees track their exercise and nutrition online for an eight-week period at www.supertracker.usda.gov. They also encourage staff to track their own body composition, blood pressure, blood glucose, and A1C blood test (for diabetes) every six months, as part of their Healthier You Wellness program.

“Staying active gives me the greatest feeling of happiness and if I am not active, I feel a pang of conscience within myself,” Pinnecoose said. She says it is important that she stays fit so that she can be a good example to her clients. She often acknowledges her sphere of influence as those who have inspired her to pursue an active lifestyle. She, in turn, is inspired to help her community get fit by utilizing her personal training and expertise along the way.

For those struggling with poor health, she says, “You are not alone, there are many people struggling with the same health issues as you. While exercising is beneficial for most everyone, if you are taking medications, we will modify the exercises to ensure you have a safe experience while getting results.” For health and fitness advocates, she highlights the importance of reaching out. “Be open-minded, listen, and have empathy, ” she said.

For more information about the fitness programs at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, visit www.uicsl.org. Anyone can use the Super Tracker at www.supertracker.usda.gov