Name: Renee Crichlow
American College of Sports Medicine
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus
Barbados Community College (BCC)
Louis Lynch Secondary
Bachelors of Science in Information Technology
Associate Degree in Applied Sciences, Computer Studies
Precision Nutrition Level 1 &2
Burrell Education Advanced CPD in Modern Pregnancy Functional Exercise
Programming and Birth Preparation
American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer
Dancing Thru Pregnancy Total Pregnancy Fitness Group Instructor and Personal Trainer
Women’s Fitness Specialist, Programmer Analyst
You are sitting backstage getting ready to speak at a conference and the Master of Ceremonies is introducing you. What would that person say?
Renee is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and the owner of REAC Fitness. She is also one of a handful of Certified Total Pregnancy Fitness Group Instructors and Personal Trainers in the Caribbean – a specialty course she completed at the very prestigious Ivy League Yale University in the USA. Though a graduate from the University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Technology, her true passion lies in fitness.
Renee has been physically active for most of her life. She was heavily involved in track and field and netball in her younger years. For three consecutive years, she has competed in The Body Figure section of the Barbados Amateur Body Building and Fitness Federation’s competitions and the local Island Fitness Pageant. Coming from a sports-oriented family, Renee has also received the National Sports Council’s prestigious Family Award.
Renee works with both males and females, but she is primarily a women’s fitness specialist. She has designed various exercise programmes to help women get into shape.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping women to design fit lifestyles through exercise, nutrition and exercise flows to help them to become a better version of themselves.
Do you have a philosophy you live by?
Live life to the fullest and cherish every experience. You don’t know when your sunset will come so make that “space” between your sunrise and sunset as memorable as can be.
What four words best describe you?
Ambitious, courageous, fun loving and caring.
Tell us about REAC Fitness.
I started REAC Fitness in 2012. Prior to that, I was an independent personal trainer for other gyms. I decided that it was time for me to do my own thing and spread my wings and hence REAC Fitness was born.
REAC Fitness offers various programmes which incorporate three Fitness Flow Principles; mindset, nutrition and exercise. Details about the programmes can be viewed at http://reacfitness.com/programs/
Why the name REAC? What does it mean?
I get this question a lot and people ask if I am missing the T. Actually no. I am not. REAC is my initials and this is my baby so I am owning it.
What drove you to start this business?
I have struggled with body image issues from teenage years. I tried everything related to exercise and nutrition. Then it occurred me that something was missing. My mindset wasn’t right and when I changed that, my body changed. I started thinking that if this worked for me, then it could work for other women too. I realized I could help women to experience freedom and transform the way I did by showing them this approach. I couldn’t keep what I learnt to myself, I needed to share it. Fast forward to today. I have created a method of transforming lives using three Fitness Flow Principles; mindset, nutrition and exercise. All of my products and programmes are structured around this and it doesn’t matter what stage of the female lifecycle you are in.
Many people focus on exercise and weight training but pay little attention to nutrition. How important is nutrition to general fitness?
Nutrition is very important because that can make the difference in changing the way your body looks and performs. It doesn’t make sense working out hard, then to eat crap. There is this thought that “if I eat this, then I will just burn it off.” It doesn’t work like that. There are many functions in the body that rely on quality food and if you feed yourself with crap, then expect your body to perform like crap. I find that nutrition is the hardest thing for people to change because certain habits are ingrained and trying to break those habits to create healthier ones is a tough one. That’s why I always work with clients at the level they are at and move one small step at a time to improve their nutrition.
Why did you decide to do the Barbados Island Fitness Pageant?
I watched fitness pageants on ESPN, the ones where the ladies would flip, do gymnastics moves and dance. I always wanted to do that but kept telling myself I am not flexible enough. So I held that thought for years, then decided to give it a try. I challenged myself and I pushed my body past my perceived limits. This experience has taught me never to doubt myself and always persevere.
Fitness professionals tend to find a niche market and you have chosen women. What is interesting is that you have programmes for pregnant women. What encouraged you to reach out to these women?
During my summer internship at UWI (year 2005), a random thought passed through my mind. I thought to myself “I would have to stop working out if I become pregnant.” And that is when my quest started. It was very fascinating to learn that women can work out when pregnant provided that they are low risk. I am not going to say it was easy getting this market because, just like me back then, I had the misconception that women shouldn’t work out during pregnancy. Education made the difference but even now, these myths around exercise during pregnancy stops women. My job is tough but I know that what I am doing will help a mother to cope with the changes her body will go through during pregnancy, help her to have a quicker labour and delivery, have a healthy baby and allow her body to recover quicker post baby.
Over the past 11 years, professional fitness has been a huge part of your life but prior to this, you spent 13 years in track and field. What areas in track and field did you participate in and why did you transition into fitness rather than become a professional athlete?
I did high jump and long jump. Honestly, it wasn’t a passion of mine. I could have been better but I never pushed it. Secondly from what I have observed, athletics doesn’t get the level of support that it requires. Look at the National Stadium, Barbados can’t even hold any major Championships and why is that? Why is it still “condemned”? Athletes have to make do with what they have and it is a shame. Fitness is something that I liked and I tried at it. I enjoyed the entire process of preparing routines, dolling up and being on stage.
After secondary school, you chose to go to BCC rather than enter a sixth form school. Why?
It just seemed like a normal progression from Louis Lynch and I wasn’t really interested in sixth form, to be honest.
BCC is quite different to sixth form school in that you are more independent and must be self-motivated since teachers generally aren’t behind you like in a secondary school. Were you always focused and self disciplined during your three years and what three pieces of advice would you give to students who will enter BCC in September?
BCC was actually two years and the programme that I did was similar to secondary school. The same set of students was together for the full two year programme and we had a set timetable. It was easy for me to stay focused and some of the teachers were actually behind us.
The same traits I had from secondary school followed into BCC. Being self disciplined and motivated are traits that I still have up to this day.
Three pieces of advice:
If you get a chance to do an internship as part of your programme, make sure that you give your best. You never know if that could be your gateway to future employmentIf you are having difficulties with your studies, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Some tutors are willing to help.You are lucky to get accepted so don’t waste time. Keep a balance between work and play.
After BCC, you pursued Information Technology at UWI. How did BCC prepare you for UWI and if given the chance to add one IT subject to the curriculum, what would it be and why?
I didn’t have to do the prelim year since the courses I did at BCC exempted me from that. I would say that the transition was fairly smooth, just the main differences were the evening classes and sometimes long breaks between classes. I adjusted to that pretty quickly.
One IT subject I would have love to see on the curriculum was Graphic Design or Animation. I was lucky to be exposed to animation when I went to the University of California, Riverside Campus for one semester as part of the exchange programme in my final year at UWI. The course was Multi Media Technologies. I didn’t get credit for that course because there wasn’t an equivalent at UWI but I loved it.
Earth, Wind, Fire, Water. If you had a choice, which one would you be and why?
I would say I am fire because I see myself as direct, have a passion for life, a go getter and fierce. I tend to sometimes be a bit too straightforward and always “ready” but I have learnt to tone down a bit.
Name three books you would encourage everyone to read and three people you would like to meet and chat with.
The Success Principles. How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be by Jack Canefield.
The Micronutrient Miracle by Jayson Calton Ph.D. and Mira Calton.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
I would like to meet:
Oprah Winfrey – she has come from humble beginnings and has become a very powerful black woman. She influences the lives of so many, it would be an honour to chat with her and learn from her.
Alexandra Pope– she is one of the persons that I follow that know a great deal about menstrual problems. I would love the opportunity to pick her brain so that I can help myself and women that suffer monthly.
Dax Moy – he is one of the most inspirational men (a coach) that I have come in contact with. He didn’t let his past dictate his future. He decided to change that and now helps many people. I have been in his presence briefly on two occasions and would love the chance to just sit and chat in detail.
If you could solve one global issue, what would it be?
Hunger. I hate to see news or hear about people in poorer countries digging though garbage on a daily basis to find something to eat while wealthier countries have access to more than enough food that they could share. I never understand why it has to be this way.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love that even though I have my meltdowns at times, I still keep striving to make things happen. I sometimes look back and am surprised by my inner strength to keep going. That is something that the younger me wouldn’t have believed I am capable of.
Who has contributed to your success?
My support network – my family, my girlfriends and my true friend Kenyatta Roberts.
My business coaches – Chamara Hollingsworth and Nicole Gayle.
My other coaches – Neval Grazette and Kenneth Griffith.
And all other persons who have given support by offering words of advice, letting me know about courses to enroll in or other opportunities.