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Focus on health, wellness realized in new Tribal facility

July 31, 2012

Public access to The Wellness Center, located at the site of the long-defunct casino in Big Pine, begins Saturday with a grand opening celebration that includes tours, giveaways and demonstrations. Shown here are staff members (l-r) Sarah Stewart Zobie, Amber Spratt, Levi Mallory, Annisa Moose and Tina Miller. Photo by Carlos Hernandez

All-day, free festivities herald the grand opening celebration of a new facility in Big Pine established with the goal of promoting health and wellness throughout the entire community.
This Saturday, Aug. 4, the Big Pine Paiute Development Corporation invites the public to tour its new fitness facility, The Wellness Center, which offers equipment and programs for toddlers to teens and adults of all ages.
During the grand opening, residents are encouraged to test state-of-the-art equipment and get in on a Fun Run, raffle and luncheon. If sufficiently impressed, the public may sign up for a one-day-discounted membership as well.
Touted as “the premier fitness center in the valley,” per its grand opening celebration flyer, The Wellness Center is located at 545 Butcher Ln., half a mile south of Big Pine, east of U.S. 395, in a building that used to be a casino.
The process of bringing The Wellness Center to fruition for the benefit of the community has been a team effort.
Wellness Center General Manager Mark Tillemans, who also serves as general manager of the Big Pine Paiute Development Corporation, said the fitness center is operated by a BPPDC board of directors, whose chairman is Owens Valley Career Development Center’s Career Education Department Director Genevieve Jones.
“We expanded beyond academic services to include a holistic approach to education which includes health and wellness,” said Tillemans in his capacity as Big Pine Paiutes Tribe’s education director. The Wellness Center is funded, in part, by “the Healthy Heart grant to establish wellness centers throughout the Toiyabe service region.”
Toiyabe Indian Health Project Director of Preventive Medicine Rick Frey, on behalf of TIHP, “donated the first wave of equipment and the Big Pine Tribal Council designated the old casino” for the fitness center’s site, explained Tillemans, with the goal of “health and wellness for the entire community” in mind.
Saturday’s celebratory events kick off at 8 a.m. with a bike repair demonstration by Matt Nelson, Awahusu Spoonhunter and Levi Mallory; a modified bike rodeo, complete with an obstacle course and skills challenges; and sign-ups for a 2K/5K Fun Run/Walk to the canal. All Fun Run participants receive a free T-shirt while supplies last. At 9 a.m., the Fun Run starter pistol will go off.
Workout devotees and novices alike can join the 10:30 a.m. facility demonstration tour and test The Wellness Center’s state-of-the-art treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and latest Cybex equipment: Bravo Resistance Cable System, Olympic lifting platform and rubber bumper plates and arc trainer. The facility is also equipped with commercial-grade resistance equipment, free weights and an entire set of Curves hydra-circuit training equipment, explained Tillemans.
Visitors who complete a Wellness Survey at the event on Saturday will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of two mountain bikes – sponsored, in part, by Aerohead Cycles in Bishop.
After guests partake in a quick break at noon for Subway sandwiches and fresh fruit, the day’s winners will be announced.
It’s all free, including one-time memberships for those who sign up at the Aug. 4 event, Tillemans said. The one-time membership fee will cost $25 after Aug. 4. Monthly fees are $35 for a basic plan or $55 with unlimited classes. A picture ID is required to sign up for membership and, while membership is open to everyone, all patrons must be 13 years or older to workout on resistance equipment.
The new fitness facility also boasts amenities: yoga/stretching room, youth activity room with two 42-inch monitors for cutting-edge exercise video games, dance floor, lockers and central audio and video system with three 55-inch monitors, said Tillemans.
Classes are also on the menu. Membership isn’t required to attend classes and youth activities, which cost $5 per session. At the grand opening, class schedules will be available, listing Zumba, strength and stretch, circuit, cross-training, yoga and sport specific training classes for adults; gymnastics for youth; and fitness programs for all ages.
Furthermore, National Association for Fitness Certification- and power-flex-and-youth-activity-certificated trainers “Tina Miller and Amber Spratt (will) assist and orientate clients on a regular basis at no charge,” said Tillemans. Sarah Stewart, an International Sports Sciences Association-certified personal trainer, will do one-on-one and small group sessions at affordable prices, which vary depending on frequency and number of participants, he said.
As of Monday, Aug. 6, The Wellness Center hours of operation are 6 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday through Friday and 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
The Wellness Center also offers a meeting room that can accommodate up to 60 people for presentations or board meetings and up to 40 for classes or banquets.
For more information, contact The Wellness Center at (760) 938-2800 or

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