Fitness 2J2 is this year’s winner of the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce’s community involvement award.

The award is given to the business that best demonstrates exceptional performance in its support of art, culture, amateur sport and education.

Joel Pedersen, a northern fitness guru and founder of Fitness 2J2, demonstrates just this.

He has worked in communities across the province orchestrating fitness programs and promoting health and wellness.

“2J2 is a socially responsible, community-based health and wellness company,” Pedersen, a Fond-du-Lac Band Member, says. “We are providing functional fitness programs for communities and sports programming, and the intent is to empower and inspire healthy and positive lifestyles for communities.”

Upon completion of his fitness program, many participants expressed concerns they would not be motivated to remain active.

To combat this, Pedersen has created downloadable fitness materials for smartphones and tablets.

The only hiccup is Wi-Fi reception is not strong in some northern communities.

To remedy this, Pedersen provides DVDs as a backup.

A portion of the funds generated by 2J2’s materials is donated back to youth sport.

“What we have decided to do is take five per of the proceeds and turn it back to programming for youth, in particular, underprivileged youth, so they have a chance to be involved in sports,” Pedersen says. “It just fits with our model.”

Not only was Fitness 2J2 the only First Nation owned business to win an award, they were the only nominated finalist.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Pedersen, who currently resides in Saskatoon and is associated with the Mikisew First Nation, says. “There are some amazing businesses in Saskatoon doing great work for the community and commerce in general. To be part of that community sends a strong message about business in Saskatchewan.”

With the 2020 North American Indigenous Games just over a year away, Pedersen has also been helping to spark interest in the game of rugby in northern Saskatchewan.

In February, he brought rookie rugby to Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay and this summer he is heading to the northwest with the program, visiting Beauval and Ile-a-la-Crosse.

Rookie rugby is a two-day rugby camp associated with Rugby Canada and teaches kids the basics of the game while remaining non-contact.

Fitness 2J2 is also leading a learn to run program and will be teaming up with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority’s (SIGA) Annual Fun Run which takes place on June 9.

Learn to do triathlons gives kids in inner-city Saskatoon a chance to learn and participate in the swim, bike and swim sports.

“We are staying busy over the summer, and we are definitely looking forward to coming to a community close to you,” Pedersen says.

If you are in the Beauval or Ile-a-la-Crosse area and want to participate in rookie rugby, check with the Northern Sport, Culture and Recreation District coordinator for more information.

The SABEX awards have been taking place for over 20 years and this year they took place at Teachers’ Credit Union in April.

(PHOTO: Joel Pedersen. Photo courtesy Joel Pedersen Facebook page.)