Group Exercise instructors encouraging health & fitness at SunUte

SunUte Community Center Group Exercise Instructors, Beth Santistevan and Jalisa Paul demonstrate how to plank and lift weights just as you would during one of their classes.
Beth Santistevan and Jalisa Paul pose together while properly demonstrating how to lift and participate in a group exercise class.
McKayla Lee | SU Drum
McKayla Lee | SU Drum

Southern Ute Tribal members, Beth Santistevan and Jalisa Paul are currently two Group Exercise instructors at the SunUte Community Center who teach LesMills Sprint class, LesMills Core Class and BodyPump class, respectively. 

Santistevan was originally recruited to train and instruct group exercise classes in 2005 when she was certified by the LesMills fitness programs in BodyPump. “I came back to teaching classes in 2016 because I really liked it before and wanted to do it again,” Santistevan stated. “I didn’t know what I wanted to teach but I asked Sage [Group Fitness Trainer] if she had room for me to teach a group.” 

She currently teaches a 30-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) spin class and a 30-minute core class. Each class required Santistevan to attend training and get certified through the LesMills Fitness Programs. The Sprint class is a short, intense style of training using an indoor bike to drive the body to burn calories for hours, even after the class is done. The Body Core class is a scientific core workout that helps tone the core and is used to help sports performance. It is a class that will help build strength and stability in the muscles that support your core. 

“Everything from the trainings to getting on stage to speaking into that mic for the first time is all very humbling – but once you establish that connection with the class and they can see your face grimacing just like they are then that pushes everyone to give their all,” Santistevan stated. “Holding that 45-second-long plank or finishing your last rep together connects everyone in that room, were all uplifting one another in there.”

Paul’s rise to instructing began when she first started taking group fitness classes in 2015, before taking her first class she would only utilize the treadmill on SunUte’s Fitness Floor. After her first class she was all in, “When I would come to work out, group exercise was all I did, and I managed to lose 120 pounds overall with classes and changing my diet,” Paul stated. “A lot of the instructors would stop and ask if I have ever thought about teaching, and I would always say no – but with their convincing I was able to attend a BodyPump training in Grand Junction just before the start of the pandemic.”

SunUte currently offers over ten different group exercise classes, ranging from LesMills Fitness, Zumba, Yoga and Water Grooves classes. “Everyone who comes to class is at their own level and nobody judges, we have people of all ages in class – it’s really cool to see a mix of different people in class and they’re all pushing their own limits,” Paul shared. 

The community center has always been dedicated to serving the tribal membership and the surrounding communities, they offer a safe and welcoming environment with quality customer service and knowledgeable staff. “I feel like one of the best things we have built in this building and in the community is this sense of camaraderie, the members that come in support each other and support the instructors – were all creating lasting relationships here,” SunUte Fitness Trainer, Sage Frane stated. 

Even through the unknown barriers and unexpected troubles that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, SunUte worked to keep the community healthy and safe. In December of 2020, the community center started releasing ‘Get Fit from Home!’ exercise programs. The release first began on SunUte’s Facebook page, but quickly made its permanent home on the center’s website. Everything from workout and challenges were then followed up by videos of the LesMills workout programming. 

“You know COVID hit Indian Country really hard and on top of that we suffer from a lot of health epidemics as well,” Santistevan said. “Jalisa and I are here to support you, we’re here for the community, we’re not perfect by any means but we want to see members being active and putting in that effort to be healthy.”

If you’re interested in taking a group exercise class, the classes for the month are posted online at SunUte’s website, on their Facebook page and are available in print at the community center. 

“My biggest tip for a beginner or anyone who’s looking to come to class is to find a partner and if you can’t find one, then call me, I will go to class with you, find something that you enjoy doing just get your body moving,” Paul stated. “Exercising, it’s good for your body, it’s good for your heart, you want to take care of yourself – no matter what you do just be consistent with it.”

Like it? Share it!