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Sunday 20 October 2019
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On condition of strength

AS TOLD TO BC PIRES

My name is Gregory Seale and I am a strength and conditioning coach.

I come from and am very connected to the city that never sleeps. Born and bred in St James. I still live there. I even see the older heads I knew growing up from time to time.

My friends from the block and I played everywhere. Hide-and-seek in the trees, cricket in the cemetery, football in the streets with grass rooted from the nearby panyard for goalposts. Police never threatened to “take us down” for playing football in the streets. That threat came from my best friend Rawle’s aunt! She would call the police on us! We rode to Macueripe to take a dip and then rode back. And we made sure to go to church on a Saturday evening, when the young people would show up.

Strength and conditioning coach Gregory Seale says anyone, not just professional athletes, can do strength and conditioning training.
PHOTO BY MARK LYNDERSAY

My father, Gregory Snr, passed away in 2015, his brother, Uncle Mikes, a year later. That was a tough time. I have two awesome daughters, Talia, aged 19, and Sanaa, 15, from my previous marriage and a live wire seven-year-old, Zaya-Kisa, with my wife Kwynn.

After five years at Queen’s Royal College, repeating O’Levels at Tranquillity and sixth form at St Mary’s College, in 1993, I took up a football scholarship in the USA. I played winger, stopper and forward. I spent eight years between Kentucky, New York and Alabama. I still play on a Sunday, but just a small goal sweat.

The American South was very slow and laid back. No major difference from us, really.

The Pandemonium panyard was very close to our house. But Moms would not allow me to go there!

People’s experience shape how they view things. My home was not deeply religious but my mom made sure we said our prayers every night and every morning. I believe there is a God. I lived a life of hardship and struggle, growing up, and have seen the ugly and the good side of things.

I don’t go to church. I say my prayers right in my bedroom and I’m fine with that.

I love the colour black. Powerful and strong.

Lots of people are hoping for a resurgence of West Indies cricket and hopefully it happens with this World Cup. I was not a follower of cricket until I started working with Cricket West Indies a year-and-a-half ago and got a better appreciation than the average fan for what the game means to our Caribbean people. At that level, if you are not motivated to improve, there is not much I or anyone can do about it. I sincerely believe the players just need to be guided how to improve.

After university, I returned and worked as a cashier at the customer service department of a telecommunications company, the only position available. I wanted to do more and was offered a position in HR – but my manager did not release me. He stalled and stalled. I was really upset. I got another opportunity. Different manager, same outcome. I walked down Frederick street feeling oppressed. Then I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started asking myself what I loved doing? I became a personal trainer and then I resigned.

I got my first opportunity with the senior men’s national football team, with athletes returning to play from injury. I went on to do my masters in kinesiology (human body movement), specialising in sports conditioning.

Gregory Seale: Where possible, I give people their quality of life back, whether they want to play sport again at the highest level or just want to play on Sunday with their friends. PHOTO BY MARK LYNDERSAY

My purpose is not just to run a gym. I could have easily invested in some machines, done some good marketing, and charged people a membership fee. But that would leave me unfulfilled. Being a strength-and-conditioning coach gives me the opportunity to see more, learn more and teach more.

If you cannot move properly, your quality of life will suffer. Where possible, I give people their quality of life back, whether they want to play sport again at the highest level or just want to play on Sunday with their friends. I improve their mobility, flexibility, strength, stamina and nutrition habits. Some people want to be healthy again. Some just want to look great in a bikini.

Anyone, not just professional athletes, can do strength and conditioning training. It improves injury resilience, strength, speed, power, endurance, agility and efficiency. The stronger you are, the better you could move. And, the more capacity you have, the lower the metabolic cost of moving. And recovery is faster.

For the ordinary person, not engaging in any sort of training is taking a chance with quality of life when older. People can start strength and conditioning training as early as age 11…and NEVER stop!

Right now, working people struggle daily with pain, injury and lifestyle diseases like hypertension and diabetes. And nothing is being done about it. Moving frequently, sweating copiously every day, strengthening the musculoskeletal system with resistance training, doing yoga and eating healthy, gives you back your mojo!

Having a trainer helps you to understand and address the needs of your own body – but you don’t have to one forever. I feel happy when people have moved on to training on their own – because they can now take care of themselves.

I try not to worry too much because, whether I’m awake or asleep, nothing’s gonna change. So best I go to sleep.

The best thing about my job is being able to help people get better, regardless of what their goal is. It’s a privilege to assist in shaping the performance mindset of young people for whatever they choose to be in life. The worst part is knowing that someone has the potential but will not do what it takes to get better. It’s like being on repeat and nothing ever changing.

We have the potential to be a great country, especially in sport, where our talented athletes, given the proper resources, will consistently put us on the world map. We are, however, cursed with self-serving politicians and administrators who only seek for themselves. Empty promises, non-payment, blatant disregard for females in football, last-minute preparations, inflated egos, dejected and defeated young people. And the list can go on and on.

A true Trini is a soulful being. A lover of life, family and friends and community open, diverse, and willing to share and build national pride.

I am proud to be a Trinbagonian. This is where my roots are.

Read a full version of this feature on Wednesday at BCPires.com

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