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Fitness a state of mind

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

Fitness a state of mind

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What do you do when you realise that you really don’t want to use that bachelor of science degree (chemistry) but you really want to be a fitness trainer?

That is the dilemma Stacey Gilkes faced after graduating from the University of the West Indies.

“I told myself I can’t do this. I don’t see myself doing chemistry as a job,” she said.

I am a very active person and wanted the freedom of running my own business and getting out the house and going around and meeting people. So I went up to England and did a diploma in personal training with Discovery Learning.”

The six-week course was described as “super intensive”.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., homework every night. It was really good. It took you from absolutely no knowledge of anything and when I left I was a level III qualified personal trainer. Along with that I also did some different courses like kettlebell, spin, circuit training, first aid and suspension training.”

Born and raised in Barbados to a Bajan dad and a British mum, Stacey, a past student of St Winifred’s, has a younger sister who is now overseas doing her master’s degree at the University of Canterbury.

Stacey said she had always been an energetic child, “very outdoorsy, active person”. To channel that energy her parents enrolled her in karate at age seven and she is now a black belt, which she attained at age 21 while at UWI.

What was dad and mum’s reaction to her wanting to be involved in fitness?

“They were pretty chilled actually. I think they kind of realised that halfway through my chemistry degree I wasn’t enjoying it like I thought I would. But I stuck it out and finished it, but there was always a part of me that never wanted to get stuck in a lab doing that sort of work . . . .

“It wasn’t suited for me,” she said, laughing.

Upon her return to Barbados in 2012, Stacey said establishing herself was very difficult at first.

“There are a lot of established trainers so me being a new girl was difficult. People haven’t heard of you . . . they don’t know if you are good enough. So trying to prove myself was pretty hard. The first year was very frustrating.”

The frustration go to the point that she left and went to Trinidad where she could utilise her skills.

“I picked up quite a few clients in Trinidad working at my friend’s gym. Then I worked at two other gyms, while doing private clients. But I was back and forth between there and Barbados. I then launched my Facebook page which helped increase my numbers.”

When she finally came back to Barbados for good in 2014 it was with a different mindset.

“I told myself it was time to push and pick up more clients. I also created my website where quite a few people messaged me, so social media was a huge part in getting my name out there.”

Her clients are mostly female and she has tailored programmes to suit each.

“Some of them are still overseas so I write up a exercise plan for them and a nutrition for them to follow and even a grocery list as

I find some people need everything laid out so it is easier to follow through.”

 Her clients in Barbados go through a full strength training programme, and diet and general exercise plans are discussed.

“Realistically I am only seeing them two to three hours in the week and the healthy lifestyle you need to work on 24/7, so you need to eat properly and you need to put in extra work.”

Most of her clients are for weight loss and some want to gain muscle. She always encourages at least 30 minutes of exercise

a day.

“I am not a fan of too many supplements. A multivitamin or fish oil probably. I tell them to eat healthy, try and lose the weight initially and then from there if you feel you are lacking you can supplement. But first see how your body reacts to exercise first before going the supplement route.”

Clients are in a continuous programme, keeping on their plan, but some are on a plan dependings on how much weight they want to lose.

She advocates one to two pound a week in weight lose, saying that crash diets are very hard to maintain.

Stacey work space is her granddad old tool shed. When he passed away the over abundant gym equipment she had in her parents house where she was using to work out was moved to the revamped tool shed.

“I love in here. It worked out well. I mostly do one-on-one, so it is just me and that person. It is a small space but I don’t need anything more than that. I go to some of my clients so I pack up my stuff and go to them.”

She works Monday to Friday and her day starts at 4:30 a.m.

Stacey says it is fun to work out and if she doesn’t do a full day she tries to run on the nearby beach.

“I love the kettelbells and suspension training. I just love my weight training in general. Heavy weights, that is my thing.”

She targets full body in her workouts, with deadlifts, core, strict cardio, pushups and so on.

She wears a FitBit which keeps track of everything – from heart rate monitoring to calories burnt. It even has an alarm clock.

She trains five days a week and says you have to listen to your body and know when to rest (suggests one or two days), “which is very important as well.”

She is looking to build up her clientele, and is looking to do outdoor group sessions soon.

In the meantime Stacey has surprised herself, and is now in her second semester of a master’s programme in renewable energy at UWI.

“I went South Africa and  seeing how they live gave me a different perspective.”

But Stacey isn’t letting that get in her way of fitness. She is comfortable juggling both.