COLUMN – Trainer of mind and body
Name: Christopher Belle
Education: Harrison College;
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.
Qualifications: BSc (Honours) in mathematics and economics.
Occupation: Mathematics teacher and personal trainer (certified).
Who is Christopher Belle?
A person who loves life, wants to achieve excellence in every aspect of life, and wants to help others as much as possible achieve the same in their lives.
Do you have a philosophy you live by, and what do you see as your purpose in life?
God helps those who help others.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about my relationship with God, teaching mathematics, and weight training.
What motivated you, or influenced you to pursue mathematics and economics at UWI?
I was always good at mathematics; so I decided to pursue it as a degree. And based on the results, I believe I made a good choice. As it relates to economics, I was told it would have been a great combination with mathematics; so I did the two.
Although my first love is mathematics, I still keep economics close, because one of these days I want to pursue a Master’s in a related field; so I can be an asset to helping my country economically.
Most will not know that you achieved in mathematics all As, with the exception of one B+, over your three years at UWI. Most would consider this a remarkable achievement. Is it that you are gifted, worked very hard, or may make a claim to both?
I must be honest and state that I am very pleased that I was able to do so well in mathematics. I believe I have a gift when it comes to mathematics, and that helps. But with any gift, it must be developed; so I had to work hard and be consistent in my studies.
I was highly motivated though, because I felt powerful when studying mathematics and I transferred that power and energy into other areas of my life.
You received an award at UWI. What was the award for, and what was the experience like being selected to receive it?
The award was for achieving a 3.5 GPA in mathematics in the first and second year. It was a great experience to achieve it because I had worked so hard. It just goes to show that hard work, discipline and a positive attitude to your work can bring rewards.
The achievement was also great because I surprised a lot of people who had known me from before, and who could not believe that I could have become so focused and serious at UWI. It just goes to show that you should never give up on people.
With a degree in mathematics and economics, you could have chosen a different career. Why teaching?
First thing is that I love children, and I wanted to contribute to their personal development, as well as help them develop a love for mathematics as I had. I wanted to make a positive impact on their lives and show them that in doing their very best and obtaining a good education there are infinite possibilities.
Fitness, good nutrition and exercise had served me well, and I saw the benefits of these in my life. Being a teacher would have given me an opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge in these areas and, hopefully, that would have encouraged them to make wise choices in the foods they ate, as well as motivated them to get involved in a sport.
You currently teach at the secondary level. With your mathematics ability, have you ever considered lecturing at UWI, or teaching at BCC?
I would love to teach at the tertiary level, especially UWI; but the opportunity hasn’t yet presented itself. In the meantime, I am focused on creating the best mathematics students in the region, and inspiring my students to dig deep and try to be the best they can be, knowing that through God all things are possible.
Mathematics is logic, and having a strong logical background could also help you to make better decisions in life if you put that skill to use.
Three years ago, 67 per cent of the entire Caribbean failed CXC mathematics; and as the years progress, more and more students are failing. Why do you believe this is so, and do you have any solutions that might help?
I believe this is due to the lack of technology and resources required to make the subject more interesting for the students. As a result, students are not as interested as they could be. We as teachers also need to find creative methods to make the subject more realistic for the students, since most of them see the mathematics that they are doing as useless in the real world.
Mathematics is a science that needs to be practised if you want to do well in it. Students therefore need to practise continually, and not only when they have homework. Parents also need to make sure their children are doing their homework in an environment and atmosphere that supports studying. All of these together will be a good foundation to build on to prepare them for tertiary education.
If you could be a superhero, which one would you be, and why?
Hulk! He is both intelligent and strong and very determined when pursuing his objectives; reminds me somewhat of myself. Actually, when I am working out in the gym, I am in beast mode, or you can say Hulk mode – nothing can stop me.
If you were given an airline ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
That is a hard choice, since there are many countries I would like to visit; but I would have to say Jerusalem. The country of Israel is very important to me because it carries the history of Jesus, and it is a desire of mine to not only see the road he walked, but also walk that path as well.
Favorite book, movie, TV show and song?
Book: Your Best Life Now (Joel Osteen).
Movie: The latest Avengers.
TV show: Criminal Minds.
Song: Take Me To The King.
Many reading wouldn’t know that you were a successful bodybuilder. What motivated you to take up the sport as a teenager?
I was an avid basketball player, and over time my skill and technique developed, and that resulted in my playing basketball for my school; and then for Barbados. It was during my success as a basketballer that I recognized I was pretty strong for a teenager and decided to take lifting weights seriously.
The more I lifted, the better I felt; and I also realized I was getting results very quickly. Weights and I just connected; it was as if we were meant to be together.
As the muscles started to “pack on” and develop, I felt even more motivated to do more. I started to do research, ask questions, read books and magazines, followed the sport; and haven’t turned back since.
You won the Schoolboys Bodybuilding Competition in 2000. Was that your first competition, and what was the experience like when you were declared the winner?
In 1999, the year before, I entered my first competition –– the schoolboys competition –– and placed dead last. Yup! Dead last! To be honest, it hit me really hard; but I didn’t let that deter me. I decided I wasn’t ever coming last again, and upped my game in the gym and in my overall preparation. I went into Hulk mode.
I trained harder, increased my discipline, dieted well, rested well and remain focused. When I entered again in 2000, I had transformed; I was a different person. I put in all the hard work and in the end I achieved my goal and won the competition.
It was an awesome feeling becoming the winner; and it was a life lesson learnt. With God and dedication, all things are possible.
In 2001, 2002 and 2003 you won the Barbados Junior Nationals. As a teenager/young adult, how were you able to remain focused and disciplined in your training and diet, given the many distractions around you?
I was a regular young person who liked to lime, watch TV and go out, but when it came to my bodybuilding at that time, I was very focused. So when it was time to buckle down, I did just that.
I had a goal and I needed to achieve it. I was focused on making improvements on the year before, so as to present a stronger, more muscular and leaner body. It was critical that I did well because my victory would have been an inspiration to other youngsters and I wanted to be someone they could look up to.
In 2001, you represented Barbados at the Central American & Caribbean Junior Bodybuilding Championships. What was the experience like, and how successful were you?
Travelling to CAC that year, I was filled with excitement. I was on a high; my body was in good condition. I had achieved my goals and now I was representing my country. I didn’t really know what the competition would be like, but I knew that I had given 100 per cent in my training, dieting and overall preparation. So I believed that I would have done reasonably well.
I won the CAC junior competition and when I received the trophy, the feeling was awesome!
In 2003, 2004 and 2006 you won your class/division at the Barbados National Championships. This was during your time at UWI. How were you able to balance both school and bodybuilding?
Again, with God all things are possible. The training helped me with my studying; so there was no problem. It was most difficult around exam times; but somehow I made it work. I had to be very focused and managed my time well, so I wouldn’t get burnt out.
Being committed to a sport helps develop good habits and characteristics that can be applied to other areas of your life, like studying.
As a certified personal trainer, what advice or encouragement would you give to anyone interested in bodybuilding or fitness?
The first thing I would suggest to anyone is to get to know their body and find out what works for them, because we are all different. Once you know what works for you, then dedicate yourself to the programme, asking God for strength; but also seek good advice.
Building muscle and becoming fit take time; so take it one day at a time, and be committed. Once you stick with it and follow good advice and the programme, the results will come.
Over the past years you were on and off the bodybuilding scene. I have been following you on Facebook and I see you are hitting the gym hard again. Is this a return to competitive bodybuilding?
Yes, I have a strong desire to compete again and win trophies. I want to be a positive role model and show people there are good habits we can use to fight the stress that life presents to us daily.
I also want to pass on some of the knowledge I have acquired about weight loss and training from my experiences. The knowledge I have gained and the success I achieved aren’t for me alone, but for others to help make themselves better as they pursue their fitness goals.
You seem to be very focused, determined, positive and excited. What is at the root of this new energy?
At the root of this new energy, as you call, it is my renewed relationship with God and Jesus Christ. Also, a serious fight with depression showed me that we have to develop positive habits to help us with the attacks from the devil, which are real.
I am grateful for this second chance; and if you thought I was focused and disciplined then, I am even more now. Belle is back, renewed and refined!
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
A professional bodybuilder with my own family and business; still teaching, of course; but being able to help and inspire people on a wider scale.
Who has contributed to your successes in life?
God, my family and my many good friends who believed in me and never gave up on me while I was going through my many trials and testing.
(Today’s Future is produced by C2J Foundation Inc. in partnership with Barbados TODAY. If you wish to contact any of the professionals being highlighted, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org)