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Former professional basketball player and Bahamian national team member Jimmy Mackey is one of the newest certified fitness instructors in the country, and already his work is paying dividends for his clients.
Mackey, the only master personal trainer in the Caribbean region, has trained a number of elite Bahamian athletes, preparing them for various competitions. The list reads like a who's who among the upper echelon athletes in the country. He does his work out of MacFit 360 Personal Fitness Gym, located in the newly built Independence Business Park on East Street South.
"I just figured for myself that personalized fitness sessions is something different that the country needs right now," said Mackey. "I just decided to go with the concept of a personal training studio - clients could come in and get that specialized attention, getting assistance from a trainer at the elite level. Elite athletes now know that they have a place where they could train. We have a lot of equipment that the big gyms have, even testing equipment where we test athletes' metabolism, their vertical tests, speed tests, and all the other lil small stuff that matters. We also test nutrition, get athletes eating the right foods. We have state-of-the-art equipment available, and the energy is out of the roof."
In addition to being the region's only National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Master Trainer, Mackey is also a certified nutritionist, a certified massage therapist and a certified suspension trainer among others. He specializes in sports performance training and rehabilitating, with a strong focus on speed, agility and quickness. When he obtained his corrective exercise credentials, one of the key areas was imbalances in the human body.
"Imbalances in athletes is a common area of concern," said Mackey. "When I started working with Ramon Miller this year, I found out how weak he was in terms of his core strength and his balance. Without those two, it's difficult to generate a lot of power as an athlete. Once he got involved with me, and started working on his conditioning, he noticed that his speed was faster than it usually is around that particular time of year. I just told him that it's just that all of his weaknesses got stronger, and that made him a faster athlete. Even when he broke his ankle, you couldn't even tell that he broke his ankle because he was performing at such a high level."
Miller, the local hero from the 2012 London Olympics, was in top form earlier this year before suffering that untimely injury at the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relays at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium. He broke his ankle prior to the heats of the men's 4x400 meters (m) relay, but still turned in the fastest split for Team Bahamas. He was working with Mackey at MacFit 360 up until that point.
"One of the challenges that I have, and this surfaced with Ramon as well, is that people say that I'm from The Bahamas, so I really don't know much, but here it is I have the credentials to prove myself. I just started pushing myself to get certified, and to be recognized as an elite and master trainer is a huge honor. It makes one want to push harder to get certified further with what's trending in the industry," said Mackey.
In addition to Miller, Mackey also worked with Bahamian professional basketball player Jaraun "Keno" Burrows, the senior women's national basketball team and TWD Athletics Club just to name a few of his clients. His organization, MacFit 360, is named after him, and is open to the public six days each week, from 5 a.m to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Mackey got started as a personal fitness trainer here in The Bahamas about six years ago, moved to the United States to get certified, and has now returned home. His gym, MacFit 360, has been open for about a year.
"A lot of people love the smaller gyms now, the personal training studios, and that is what MacFit 360 is all about," said Mackey. "Being a master trainer, I think that you should be able to train anybody. I would definitely encourage other young people to get involved with fitness training, as long as you have the passion for it. You have to have a passion for this to take it to the next level, and be the best that you could be.
"I took it all the way to being a master trainer, and I'm the first one in the Caribbean. I was just selected out of thousands of trainers around the world to be featured in one of the biggest fitness magazines in the world. I just want to add some awareness to my Bahamian people as far as health and fitness is concerned. I want to implore my Bahamian people to act now and get healthy now, to fine tune your diet and nutrition and get away from all the fatty stuff; just live a healthy lifestyle, and push yourself in everything that you do."
Mackey is encouraging athletes in particular to visit him at MacFit 360 in the Independence Business Park and see immediate results.
Last year staff at Royal Fidelity were shocked at the death of their colleague -- a person who worked out daily and whom they looked at as the epitome of health. But at the age of 35, that person died of a heart attack. That pushed the group's human resources director Stacia Williams to wonder if the institution was doing enough -- if anything at all -- for its staff as it related to their health and wellness.
Last week, Royal Fidelity initiated the Phillippa Wilson Get in Gear Health and Wellness Program, a three-day health fair held during office hours at the Royal Fidelity Head Office which is mandatory for all of their 189 staff members, including those in Royal Fidelity's Grand Bahama arm to participate.
During the health fair, staff members in groups of 35 were subject to medical screenings, healthy lifestyle coaching, massages, healthy cooking and juicing/blending demonstrations, and were able to take their fill of fresh fruit made available to them at the pop-up market. The health fair took place in the courtyard at Fidelity's head office in half-day sessions per group over the three days.
"We really need everyone to understand how important a healthy lifestyle is... eating the right foods, exercising and de-stressing," said Williams. "Phillippa Wilson [who was our] assistant vice-president of corporate finance in the Royal Fidelity family died September 20, and she was the epitome of health. She would leave her office every day, go running, and everyone would mention how disciplined she was to do this. We saw her as a physically fit person who ate healthy every day, and she died of a heart attack basically at age 35. That was a shocker for us."
After that tragedy, Williams said she knew that the institution had to do more as it relates to health and wellness for their staff and their families. The Phillippa Wilson Get in Gear Health & Wellness Program was born out of that tragedy to create awareness for the staff.
"We just need everybody to have a mindset change, so we made it mandatory for all of our staff to come out. This was not something they could just choose to do because it was that important to us."
Jan Isaacs, president of Jemi Health and Wellness, and her team addressed Fidelity's staff on wellness inclusive of mind, body and spirit. They gave informative talks on the foods staff members should and should not be eating as well as how to shop and read labels on packaging. The Jemi team also covered the foods people with cholesterol and diabetes should be purchasing and what they should not be consuming along with the importance of portion size.
Chef Ancilleno Solomon showed employees how to prepare light, healthy lunches and dinners. He specifically demonstrated recipes using chicken breast, salmon, a medley of vegetables and gluten-free pasta. The Jemi team showed the staff how to blend juices and vegetables to get their intake of fruit and vegetables in a juice form for those that liked the idea of juicing. The Fidelity family also took home recipes so that they would be able to replicate the meals at home.
In the final analysis, the health fair was simply a prelude to the main event -- the Get in Gear Six-Week Challenge. Staff came together in groups of four, named their team and chose a team captain. The team had to participate in weekly assigned activities with personal trainer Toriano Johnson; engage in cooking classes; weigh in weekly and attend Weight Watchers meetings (optional).
Williams stressed that the six-week challenge was not an affair to see who could lose the most weight. While weight loss was a component of the challenge, that they were more focused on their staff member's body mass index (BMI) results.
In an effort to ensure that their staff approached the challenge in a healthy way, they were not allowed to fast and had to post pictures eating three healthy meals per day on the group's social media site. Williams also gave out weekly challenges through their social media group, with challenges increasing in difficulty each week.
"After the six-week challenge, I'm hoping that people will have a new awareness and a new appreciation for a healthy lifestyle, and understanding the importance of their health," said Williams. "People can weigh whatever they want to weigh, be whatever size they want to be; it doesn't mean they're not healthy. If you're healthy in your size and happy with your size, then I'm happy -- but I need you to be healthy. We don't want to lose another of our employees to a silent killer like a heart attack."
Williams said the next six weeks would be rough for Fidelity's staff as the challenge starts in the lead-up to the holiday season and all the goodies that will be tempting them everywhere. She is hoping they will not succumb and survive through to the challenge culmination which will take place just before Fidelity's Christmas party at which time Williams said they would get to eat, drink and be merry.
Teams will be able to win prizes throughout the six-week challenge with the overall winner receiving an iPad, cash and gym membership for the year at the end of the six-week challenge.
The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) cannot afford to host a training camp prior to the International Association of Athletic Federation's (IAAF) World Championships, due to the financial position the local governing body for the sport now finds itself in, according to president of the association, Mike Sands.
Sands said that a camp could not be organized in a timely manner, and as a result, the executives made a decision not to host any. The 14th edition of the IAAF World Championships will be held in Moscow, Russia, August 10-18...
The senior women's national basketball program held its second round of tryouts over the holiday weekend, at the Remnant Gymnasium. The object of the sessions was to cut the squad down from 23 to 15 players, and that was achieved. The final number will be 12 players, so there will be three remaining cuts before a final selection is determined.
This past weekend, they were put through drills to test offensive and defensive skills, and conditioning.
Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin is huge on the idea of having a physically fit team that can get up and down the floor, and this played a big part in the decision-making of who stays and goes. Initially, there was expected to be a morning and afternoon session in the second round of tryouts, but coach McPhee-McCuin and her assistants felt that they had seen enough in order to make the cut after the first session.
"I think we have a mixture of veteran leadership, as well as youth. I think that we have everything implemented. We have conditioning as well as the weight-training sessions with Macfit 360, so I think that by training every day and getting in shape, they will be ready for training camp on the 23rd when all of the girls come down," said McPhee-McCuin. "Conditioning is what I look forward to seeing most in the girls. It is a big thing for us and I think once the girls are in better shape, they will be able to do more. As far as the basketball stuff is concerned, they will be in the gym with the coaches and will have opportunities to work out with them to fine tune their skills, so that when we come back we can put it all together, but if they are not in shape and not strong enough, it would be an issue for us."
As mentioned, training camp will start on June 23, in New Providence.
A lack of size on the inside has almost always been the downfall of Bahamian national squads in the past, but coach McPhee-McCuin feels that this group will not fall under that category.
"Our front court is 6'4, 6'3 and 6'2. We even have six-foot guards so we are a pretty big team," she said. "It's not size that I'm concerned about because as far as size in the post is concerned, we have that this year. It's the point guard play that we really have to work on and solidify."
They have already began their sessions with the owner of Macfit 30 and former national team player Jimmy Mackey, who was recently praised for being a great personal trainer by professional basketball player Jaraun 'Keno' Burrows. Burrows noted that most would look outside of the country to seek a personal trainer that can train a professional athlete, but he said that Mackey helped him to take his game to another level after a few training sessions. Mackey will work with the women until coach McPhee-McCuin returns at the end of the month.
With the endless Christmas parties and New Year's celebrations still to come, the Yuletide season seems to be one overindulgent gorge-fest. And it happens year-after-year with most people making a New Year's resolution to adopt healthier practices, resolving once again to achieve better health.
Kristin Beneby, 30, is one of those people who says she will try to change her eating habits once again when the new year begins. She says after all the family gatherings and outings with friends, during December, she knows she will pack at least 10-pounds onto her five-foot, four-inch 180 pound frame.
"I tell myself every year that I won't overindulge and every year I do it again and again. This year I am sure I did worse than usual, but no matter, I have my exercise trainer on speed dial and I will be hitting the gym like crazy come January," she said. "This will be the big year I'm sure. I just need to keep motivated and diet like crazy. I hope I can stick to it this time."
She also wants to adopt healthier eating habits to set an example for her four-year-old son Max.
Beneby is among the masses of Bahamians who make elaborate plans to drop a few dress sizes at the end and beginning of a new year, but unfortunately according to experts their plans are likely to fizzle out long before the summer months. But getting to a healthier you can become a reality sooner and much easier than you think.
Registered dietitian, Julia Lee, coordinator of clinical nutrition at Doctors Hospital, says making a change this January is not about big steps or elaborate exercise or diet plans, but about the small things people do that will make all the difference.
"It is the season of resolutions and instead of resolving to make a dramatic temporary change, aim to make a permanent lifestyle change," says Lee. "When it comes to creating a better you, the first thing is to be realistic and make it happen with small steps and changes. This will not happen immediately but working on it slowly and steadily will add up in the end."
She says moderating the food intake is the first thing people need to do if they really intend to be on top of their health for the coming year. The dietitian says you can start practicing good habits now so getting into the spirit of good health will come more easily by January. And a key to eating right is not just avoiding overeating, but eating the right portions when you do make your food choices.
Learning to eat and drink right
"It's essential to start by increasing the amount of vegetables you intake because research shows that persons tend to be more satisfied with reasonable portions of the other food groups when they eat more vegetables," said Lee. "A good guide to getting the portion right is to allot a quarter of your plate for your protein like turkey, ham or fish. The next quarter is your starches like rice and potato, and the last half is to be filled with vegetables whether they are cooked or raw."
To stop yourself from overindulging at functions where there are finger foods, a good trick is to deliberately use your non-dominant hand to eat. It will feel weird and you will be more conscious of what you are eating so you don't mindlessly gorge yourself -- which most people are guilty of at this time of the year.
To cut the calories that you can pack on throughout the day, it is important to pay just as much attention to beverages as you do to foods. Even though they are only liquid, sweet drinks can add up calories quickly. Instead of filling up on sodas or other sweet drinks, stay hydrated with water. It is advised that you drink at least eight glasses of water daily, or drink it as often as you are thirsty. If you must drink other fluids, don't ever completely fill up your glass. Instead, dilute juices or other drinks with water or with unsweetened tea. This will stretch the drink without adding calories and you can have the beverage for a longer period -- instead of drinking two or three additional servings of the calorie-packed drink to get you through your day. Keeping well hydrated more often throughout the day makes it easier for your body to not only digest food but break down calories as well.
"Since it is the festive season, alcohol will be about -- and even into the new year, most people will not realistically resolve to cut out drinking entirely. So it's best to know how to moderate this as well," says Lee. "For females the limit is one alcoholic beverage a day which equates to a one-and-a-half-ounce shot glass of hard liquor or one 12 ounce beer or a five-ounce glass of wine. For men the amount doubles. Anything more than that is beyond moderation and bad for your health."
Exercising your way to health
Incorporating a good exercise routine into your daily life is another major thing most people need to change in their lives. This is not to say to just jump into a rigorous gym schedule or get a hardcore personal trainer. Instead the nutritionist says the most successful persons are those who can commit themselves to a 30-minute exercise routine done four to five times a week.
"It's not about doing the exercise for a long time, or changing your life so drastically to fit this new routine into it so that it becomes a burden. Persons unused to exercising who push themselves to exercise for longer periods of time than this are less likely to still be doing this come June and July," she says. "It is for this reason that it is best to do it slow and steadily."
Lee advises that you try something simple that won't strain your pocket like walking or jogging. She says doing things you like and don't have a problem indulging in regularly are also a good way not to bite off more than you chew. If you like basketball, soccer or even baseball, joining a team or gathering a few friends to participate with you a few times a week she says will break up the monotony of exercise as well.
If you are a really busy person, making small changes to your daily life is a good way to add activity to your life. Instead of using an elevator, take the stairs at work. Wash the dishes in the evening as an alternative to running the dishwasher. Rather than plop down on the couch in front of the television at the end of the day, take your dog out for a walk or just take a leisurely stroll around your home or even the neighborhood.
"The idea is to be more active. If you have a sit down job, ensure you get up and walk at least every 30 to 60 minutes. Sitting for too long is a health hazard, so get up and consciously walk, because a body in motion tends to stay in motion. If you are far from the garbage, instead of just throwing it in, take time to walk to it. The more you move and exercise your muscles the better you will feel. In turn feeling more active leads to making more healthy choices."
Even if you can make these changes in your life this new year, the nutritionist says a sweeping amount of weight loss is not what your aim should be. Although most people resolve to lose a lot of weight and become addicted to the scales near the beginning of the year, she says this is not how you should measure your health success.
She advises that you focus on things like decreasing inches around the body or how well you sleep rather than how many pounds you lose. Lee says it is also good to gauge your improving energy level and even how your clothes feel as you make more and more healthy choices. At the end of the day you should only look forward to losing one or two pounds a week. More than this is often too much, and the weight loss will not be done healthily and is often not permanent when it is lost too quickly.
"I would advise people to enter this new year with a more positive attitude toward life. Cut back and eventually completely stop smoking if you are a smoker. Be a moderated drinker and even stop drinking if you can. But most importantly, reduce inactivity in your daily life and just get up and do something even if it's just walking. At the end of the day, just make better choices since it's not only for personal gain but also because all those you love will benefit from a healthier you."
Olympic gold medalist Chris 'The Fireman' Brown may have one of the fastest gaits in the world but it took him a long time to get where he wanted to go.
"It's been a long, long journey, 17 years," said Brown, "exactly half my life."
It was half his life devoted to the goal that millions around the world saw him achieve. On the tallest rise of the podium at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, flanked by teammates Ramon Miller, Michael Mathieu and Demetrius Pinder, the four men who just proved they were the fastest feet in the fleet, the team who won gold in the men's 4x400 meters (m) relay by a third of a second, wowed commentators, broke a 60-year American winning streak, Brown soaked in the moment of a lifetime. Wearing the national colors of black, gold and aquamarine, and listening to the moving words and music of the Bahamian National Anthem, Chris 'The Fireman' Brown was at the top of his life. He fought back tears, emotion so raw it was open for the world to see, but he barely took time to gloat.
The race had just begun. 'The Fireman' was planning ahead. Inspired, he wanted to host the first invitational track event on the country's new track, part of the new $30 million Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in The Bahamas. Some scoffed, calling it too ambitious. Brown was determined. Holding the meet would cost more than $500,000. He didn't have that kind of money. Here was a runner with not just Olympic gold but a string of medals, including world championships, struggling to keep up with the cost of vitamins and training and plans that cost more money than he had ever seen. The Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational is only the beginning. The following year, 2014, The Bahamas is set to host the first International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) track event of its kind in the history of the sport - a relay meet. Brown knows the world's best relay teams will be competing in sprints, mid and long-distance runs, no shot put or javelin or high jump or single man races, no other events detracting from the one track event that requires speed, stamina, agility, timing and that extra something - a spirit of connection allowing one runner to hand off the baton to the next so seamlessly that it is if they were one.
In between there would be a season of training and meets that would start in the United States and end in August at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, each important for overall rankings and contracts, critical for contracts and sponsorships for Brown and the 'Golden Knights' who are still awaiting the deed to the piece of land they are to receive, four heroes scraping to make ends meet. Farther out, but never far from Brown's mind, the 2016 Summer Olympics. He will be 36 at the 2016 games.
Brown had a lot on his mind, more on his plate, not to mention his personal priorities - a wife and two small children.
It is a few minutes past seven on a Thursday morning at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau and the man who had just been voted the most consistent runner in the history of the sport was running late for a speaking engagement. At the podium, Rotarians from the Sunrise Club of Nassau were extending announcements, prolonging jokes. Members who knew Chris 'The Fireman' Brown was supposed to be there by now were checking watches, e-mail on smartphones, fidgeting. In he came. Apologizing but looking so surprised that all these business people were there to see him.
The apology was accepted instantly. It was April 11, 2013, two days before the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational that yes, he had managed to raise money for. A total of 105 athletes from around the world were descending upon New Providence along with coaches, trainers, families, supporters, medical personnel. He was really managing to pull it off, but he had no idea that being host meant he would be up most of the night before and early that morning taking care of personal requests - change my room, I thought it had a view of the sea - dozens of requests and questions to be answered. From the audience came loud and unsolicited offers to volunteer, all from women, smiling. Brown thanked them and gave a huge thanks to the support team of volunteers from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, which, along with the Ministry of Tourism, had helped fund and make the invitational meet possible.
Then he got down to business, letting people who had watched the Golden Knights win for The Bahamas in one of the country's proudest hours, get to know Chris Brown, just another guy from the island of Eleuthera, and yes, he would be honored to be in Rotary.
"Would you really want me to join when I come back to Nassau or Eleuthera," he asked, incredulous that a room filled with such successful people would invite him. "Well, we've got Eldece," shouted another member, referring to 1999 Golden Girls Olympic medalist Eldece Clarke, also a member of Sunrise Rotary. All the while, Brown seemed awed by the crowd. "He's so humble," whispered one woman to this writer. Later, she would say it aloud: "You're amazing. What a pleasure it is to see such a successful athlete who is humble, a husband, father whose family is such a priority." "Yes, it's too bad about the married part," joked another woman, or maybe not joking.
Brown had, in his quiet and unassuming way, won the crowd as firmly as he had the medal. He talked about "being in the zone" when focus is so intense that a runner does not hear noise around him or voices speaking to him. He talked about his two daughters, ages one and three, and his eyes lit up. He talked of how proud he was to be Bahamian. He did not tell them what a few people know - that other countries offered him huge sums of money to run for their flag, to train their best runners. He never considered it.
In his quiet voice, and in few words, he spoke eloquently, if never realizing that he did. "I've had a very long journey," he said. "Seventeen years, exactly half my life. It's not easy but I believe what they say when they say the Lord does not give you more than you can bear."
He talked briefly about the hours of training, the early mornings alone on a track, the sacrifices of being away from family, intention to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. "I'm not just a track and field man," he said. "I'm a married man and a father." There were more sighs from the audience. The sighs sounded female. Again, he seemed amazed.
"I don't know what we were expecting," said a Rotarian in the moments allotted for questions following a presentation, "but you're amazing, so humble and that's terrific and heart-warming to see."
If there were any more questions, they were drowned out by the applause.
As regulation and legislation become increasingly detailed and demanding, the role of the Director is becoming more risky...
TORONTO, Canada - A leading tennis coach and sports
administrator in Canada sees the launch of nonstop Air Canada service to
St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) this winter as a
boost for sports-related tourism.
Lionel Eli, one of Canada's
highly rated and respected tennis coaches and personal trainers, said
the Virgin Islands "is not only an incredible vacation spot, but it also
is perfect for sports tourism encounters."
Performance Trainer, Business Owner and World Cup Athlete Vaughn Bethell Brings Athletic Training to the Masses
GREENVILLE, S.C. --
Vaughn Bethell has taken his experience as a World Cup Soccer player on
the Bahamas National Team and as a professional speed and strength coach
to grow his business, Performance QSA into a cutting edge fitness
Performance QSA Sports and Personal Fitness Training Academy have been
open since January 2005. This state of the art human performance
institute for high performance amateur and professional athletes as well
as the general population features the latest training equipment in the
sports conditioning and fitness industry. Bethell's techniques have been
featured in Greenville News and in a 12 week...