Brandon Edwards is the nighttime supervisor and personal trainer at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Wellness Center. Although personal trainers sometimes disagree on health philosophies, they all share one common goal.
“We’ll always try, at the end of the day, to come together and try to find out what’s right for the individual we’re working with,” he said.
Located near the CPN headquarters, the Wellness Center is open to Tribal members and their spouses, employees and members of federally recognized tribes. There are daily boot camps and strength classes, as well as personal trainers and dietitians on staff offering their services at no charge.
Treadmills, stationary bicycles, dumbbells, an aerobics room and a heated therapy pool are some of the features available in the 21,500 square-foot gym.
“I had a doctor come in and tell me — we have a rowing machine out there — that’s the best thing for your heart, for cardio and to get into shape,” Edwards said. It is one of his favorite pieces of equipment.
Members must be at least 21 years old. Tribal employees may join the gym at 18. There are separate men and women’s locker rooms available, complete with showers and lockers.
Edwards joined the Wellness Center staff 12 years ago as a college student, transitioning to a personal trainer after three years. He studied exercise science at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond after transferring from the University of Kansas. He specializes in strength training.
Coaching football and teaching physical education were his goals in college. However, his co-workers, a fun environment and satisfaction from improving people’s quality of life at the Wellness Center blossomed into a career with the Tribe.
Edwards said working with a trainer is important for safety and recalibrating workout plans to avoid stagnation.
“You’ll be doing the right things; you won’t hurt yourself,” he said. “If you have a trainer, he’s there to take you step-by-step on how to do it.”
Native Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes as Caucasians, according to the Center for Disease Control. The Wellness Center offers a Diabetic Initiative Program, which helps gym members who have diabetes take control of their glucose levels by working out and staying fit.
“My father was a diabetic, and so it’s come twofold with me to help other people live longer,” Edwards said.
Every day, he thinks about the people relying on him, which feeds his positive attitude and determination to be a source of encouragement.
“They come back about four or five months later and say, ‘Hey Brandon, guess what? I’m not on blood pressure medicine anymore,’ or ‘I’m not a diabetic anymore,’” he said.
Setting realistic goals
“You come to a gym, and you see all these people working out, lifting a bunch of heavy weights, but we want people here,” he said. “If you can just get past the intimidation, hey. We’re here; open arms.”
For beginners, Edwards recommends 20 minutes walking on a treadmill and 20 minutes lifting weights, switching days between the upper and lower body in subsequent sessions.
He encourages everyone to set realistic goals, start out small and focus on the long-term. Edwards’ clients weigh in every two weeks at the same time on the same day.
“You look up six months later — you’re still doing it, and you’ve seen progress,” he said. “You’ll find yourself looking forward to coming to the gym.”
Find out more about the fitness center at potawatomi.org/services/health/cpn-wellness-center.
CPN Wellness Center
5 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday 5 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m.-noon
Closed Sundays and holidays
2346 Gordon Cooper Drive