Fit Club with Loretta Gabaldon










Standing in a bathroom stall, partially naked, I begin to wonder what guys are thinking when they come in and see my clothes scattered on the floor. With a quick break in between class, an opportunity has emerged, to get a quick run in between sessions. What will I run””five, four, three miles? Lacing my shoes and getting my music device ready, slowly my brisk walk begins and transforms into a slow jog.

Memories of my freshman year flood my mind in a time not so long-long-long-long ago, when 17 was just shy of being an adult””fresh from my parent’s home, living in a dorm, across the state””my meal plan consisted of pizza, hamburgers, ramen noodle soup, soda, and beer. My freshman fifteen turned into a hefty freshman 50. Weighing nearly 200 pounds, from a slim 150, I was no longer fit.


A young woman, dressed in black and florescent yellow workout clothes, orchestrates her new cadets in cadence around the campus dance plaza. Her name  is Loretta Gabaldon. Recently employed as the Institute of American Indian Arts fitness instructor, this petite young woman visualizes her attack on college fitness. Like me, growing up in a family where athletics is instilled at a young age, Gabaldon competed in most sports, including wrestling, with her two brothers by being the only female on the team. She later transferred all her energy into MMA (mixed martial arts).

Her quest to attack fitness began when she and her coach rebuilt a gym to help troubled teens, but first they needed a degree to back their credentials””she re-enrolled back into school. As an ex-culinary artist, she promotes diet.

“Diet and exercise,” she replies. “Not just any diet, but your diet.”

We speak about events she wants to incorporate into the program. She hopes to do a military motivational running style cadence, where she incorporates students and faculty to march around and shout, creating uniformity and teamwork. With a very spunky voice, she hopes to fundraise towards better equipment for her students and the facility.
As ex-military, she is a disabled veteran with multiple military qualifications. Her vision to better IAIA’s fitness future involves a bigger facility and a possible soccer field for those stickball enthusiasts. Currently, she has ordered more exercising equipment and mirrors, but because of space issues””she is limited on what she can do right now.

She speaks highly of a proper diet, especially for Native Americans, who believe frybread is a traditional food. Although stressing she is not a nutritionist, Gabaldon clearly knows the history of Native Americans’ diets. She directs me to the USDA website, which provides additional detail about healthy eating portions for ethnic people.

Our interview detours towards diabetes, as diabetes is common within Native American people. She informs me of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. As a runner, I tell her I am not the healthiest of eaters””(what can I say, I love food) but she tells me how each student is “lucky to have a healthy cafeteria,” she promotes the healthiness of Café Bon Appetit. She informs me which sugars are good and bad, and she also hints there are sources of   calcium that don’t involve milking a cow.

Loretta Gabaldon is a fit young lady who has a vision for the future fitness of IAIA, alongside her is fellow instructors, Heather Ryder (fitness instructor) and Blake Cute (recreation), both recruited as a force of fitness. As an older student who is reintroduced to fitness, I am excited to see the development of her success with the IAIA fitness program.

Returning back to the stall where I changed before my run””my eight mile run is completed. I stand before the mirror wiping the sweat from my shiny face. Looking at the wrinkles of time on my 34-year-old  forehead, I am given a map of where my life has taken me. The freshman 50 is not as visible, as I have cut out most of the bad food in my life, including soda””eight years clean of soda, to be exact. However, my life is not perfect by any means””I still love to eat, I still have the occasional beer, and still puff the occasional cigarette. But, I made a choice to change and better care of my body, by learning to limit myself of indulgences for a “lighter” tomorrow.

It’s now time to change and head to my next class.

Fitness Hours

Monday: 10:00 am ”“ 10:00 pm *
Tuesday: 10:00 am ”“ 10:00 pm*
Wednesday: 10:00 am ”“ 10:00 pm*
Thursday: 10:00 am ”“ 10:00 pm*
Friday: 10:00 am ”“ 10:00 pm*
Saturday: 9:00 am ”“ 7:00 pm
Sunday : 11:00 am ”“ 7:00 pm

*Closed for specific fitness classes between 9:00 am ”“ 3:00 pm


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