Twice a week, tribal elder Evelyn Burch wakes up, prepares herself for an eventful day, and makes a trip to the SunUte Community Center for a refreshing swim in the public pool. With every swim session, she’s able to fully energize herself, growing actively in strength for the mind and body. Not only has swimming provided Burch with a new and enticing activity, but also with the inspiration to further advance her health and well-being.
Burch, 70, has been swimming since November after making the decision to get her fitness back on track after dealing with health complications. Four months later, she developed the confidence of an Olympian driven by sheer motivation.
“I used to be diabetic, but swimming has helped me turn it around,” Burch said as she paddled in the water. “I had back problems, but the exercise helped strengthen it. Since I started, I am seeing good results in my arms and legs.”
Burch doesn’t swim alone. She is accompanied by her daughter, Faren Burch, who introduced her to swimming by signing the two up for an aerobics class.
“After my daughter signed us up, we started coming twice a week, plus an additional day if we felt the urge of getting in the water. The instructors are also very helpful. They are like family here, and they are ready to help you when you need it.”
SunUte Community Center hosts a water grooves class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30am to 9:30am. It is free to all tribal members and teaches the basics of water aerobics and treading. Swimming is considered one of the most beneficial ways of building muscle mass, cardiovascular fitness, and burning calories. For a 150-lb person, thirty minutes of swimming at a moderate pace can burn approximately 230 calories, which is a usual everyday goal for a healthy lifestyle.
Burch addressed her concerns about the ongoing influx of diabetes and heart disease across Indian Country, and how just thirty minutes of activity makes all the difference.
“There are too many people who are diabetic. Choosing to exercise and be active will help decrease the issue. It has given me a good feeling, and now I’m not even afraid of the water anymore. [Swimming] has taught me that I can learn something new, be relaxed, and not be tense. Its a fast pace life we live in, so it helps with some of the stresses. Try it out and see how you like it. You have to push yourself to do things, otherwise you won’t have the motivation. It gave me good results, so see what it can do for you,” she said.