Hobbema man challenges communities to get fit

One man can make a difference. Clay Bruno of Hobbema is shaking up a complacent lifestyle with his First Nations Get Fit Challenge to transform the bodies and minds of Aboriginal individuals who want to be healthier.

  • Jun. 11, 2008 10:00 a.m.

By Eraina Hooyer

Staff Reporter

One man can make a difference. Clay Bruno of Hobbema is shaking up a complacent lifestyle with his First Nations Get Fit Challenge to transform the bodies and minds of Aboriginal individuals who want to be healthier.

The program was designed by Bruno in 2000 after he worked on the Body for Life Challenge.

“It inspired me knowing I was challenging other people, every time I got on the treadmill I knew there were other people doing the same and that was good motivation,” said Bruno. “And I thought, why isn’t there anything like this for Aboriginal people? I needed to set that precedence, if I could do it then anyone could.”

Bruno modeled the program for the Aboriginal people to help bring success and motivation to getting healthy and fit. Bruno believes that the success of the program is because of a commitment fee, it’s Aboriginal owned and there’s competition within the community.

“They’re challenging their own people,” he said. “It’s good motivation to know that they are challenging each other, it’s more real to them and applies to them and they take ownership of the program. They earn it.”

The GFC is a 12 week weight loss challenge to help Aboriginal people from coast to coast transform for fitness. The challenge includes all ages and there are prizes and money given to the winners of the challenge.

“It’s an action plan to help the health problems of our people,” said Bruno. “It’s not just information, it’s a plan to get our people healthy.”

In this challenge there are currently 360 people from across Canada looking to reach their goal of getting fit. Bruno estimates that the next challenge will include approximately 1,000 people.

Challenging people to become healthy is not only something Bruno is doing to change the communities, it is also a cause close to his heart after losing family members and friends to diabetes.

Among those with diabetes in Canada, 50 per cent are Aboriginal. Bruno is striving to lower that percentage.

“We were once a really healthy people because we lived off the land and now what’s killing a lot of people is processed foods and fast foods,” he said. “If people believe in themselves, get on a proper diet and an active plan they will take control of their lives and complete their goals.”

Bruno has been a body builder for 20 years and a competitive body builder since 2000 in the heavy weight category. Bruno has won many notable awards and in 2000 placed fourth in Muscle Beach and second in 2001. In 2003 Bruno placed eighth in Mr. Alberta.

Bruno is from the Samson Cree Nation of Hobbema and is a very cultural and spiritual individual. Bruno believes in the power of prayer and holds great respect for his Elders. He also attends sweatlodge to learn his culture as a Plains Cree man and encourages others to embrace their culture.

Bruno has also branched out into acting and appeared in the television show Jake and the Kid, Stone Fox, North of 60 and other shows and commercials.

Although the GFC is not for profit and the time and energy Bruno dedicates is not paying financially, Bruno believes the outcome is worth the work.

“The reward is the testimonials and success stories,” he said. “There’s a complete change in people. Their attitudes are uplifted and they’re just so happy and high spirited. To me it’s worth it. We’re saving lives, helping people and getting their dreams back.”