Reclaiming our health through holistic wellbeing with Newo Wellness
- Alyson Bear | May 26, 2021
The founders of Newo Wellness are an impressive team of four young Indigenous women. They are Kennedi Monych from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Kayla Ahenakew from Ahtahkakoop First Nation, Lovina Tootoosis from Poundmaker Cree Nation and Shayna Thomas from Kinistin Saulteaux First Nation. Their company’s mission is to nourish all aspects of self, integrating culture, such as the medicine wheel teachings, into everyday life, creating balance.
The purpose of Newo Wellness is “to inspire other individuals to live a holistic life, to nourish oneself, through the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellbeing through the medicine wheel teachings,” Ahenakew said.
“If we are neglecting one quadrant of our medicine wheel, then the medicine wheel is not balanced and neither are we,” Thomas added.
Newo Wellness kicked off an eight-week spring challenge on May 1, with more than 150 participants. It offers guided home or gym workouts designed by the team. The daily fitness challenges are complemented by daily challenges to grow holistically, beyond the physical.
Participants have access to the coaches through a private Facebook group, where members can also support one another and an online app with exercise demos and progress tracking. The program awards prizes too.
The founders have all been involved in sports and fitness since they were young.
“We are all similar in ways and also different in our experiences, so we bring a lot to the table and to the team,” they said.
Ahenakew grew up with the Saskatchewan First Nations Summer and Winter Games, which had a huge impact on many lives and creating lifelong friendships. She also played in the North American Indigenous Games, played soccer with the U of S Huskies and recently signed with the MSC Peoria Women’s pro-am soccer team in Illinois! Her message: “To put the love and intention into myself before trying to put anyone before me. If I love myself first, I can love those around me.”
Thomas also played in the First Nation games and played hockey in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC). She is also an educator and recent Master’s degree graduate.
“Something I always struggled with was my self-esteem. I wish I could tell my younger self to believe in yourself and lean on community for support, whether that is your family or the wider community. People are in your corner and want to see you succeed, so do not be afraid to reach out for help, believe in yourself and your abilities,” Thomas said.
Monych is a certified fitness coach who spoke about being a shy youth and how being active in sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, tae kwon do and pole dancing has helped her blossom into the compassionate mother and woman she is today.
“I was such a shy kid that I wish that I would have just went for it because I would have been really happy if I did. I never would have thought I’d end up where I am today, but I’m finally stepping into my own light.”
Tootoosis’s story started with powwows every summer. With a background in track, volleyball and powwow dance, she spoke to how movement has always been a big part of her life, intertwining culture and fitness in one. Tootoosis is a student at the U of S and is doing all this while juggling motherhood, which is extremely impressive.
“The situation that you are in right now is not going to last forever. Put yourself into new things and try your best to meet new people and always believe that moving forward, there is going to be a better future there for you!” she said.
This is a super team to keep your eyes on. These four women are proof of the difference that can be made when we come together and empower one another. Newo Wellness incorporates culture, empowerment, Indigenous sisterhood and the holistic approach that allows us to see how everything is interconnected, all while creating a movement of change and balance.
Sometimes we all need that extra encouragement and inspiration to go out there and push ourselves to new limits we never thought we were capable of. Teamwork makes the dream work. Together we rise.