Trinidad’s Wellness Strip Is A Thing, & You Need To Get There ASAP

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Trinidad’s Wellness Strip Is A Thing, & You Need To Get There ASAP

October 4, 2017

Photo credit: Google
Photo credit: Google

The district of St. James, Trinidad, is known for many things. Nicki Minaj was born there, Nobel prize recipient V.S. Naipaul lived there, it’s home to three cemeteries and one crematorium, houses Trinidad’s only mounted branch police department, and boasts the country’s largest annual Hosay display.

But while its historical value is impressive, our favourite reason to visit St. James these days is to experience something a whole lot more…holistic.

Now, holistic and St. James might not seem like they belong in the same sentence.

After all, the St. James we see today would be more accurately described as a cultural hodgepodge of shopping malls, eateries, places of worship, and mom-and-pop shops.

But by some uncanny good fortune, the district is also home to some of the most unique wellness-related businesses in Trinidad, all situated on one specific stretch of Long Circular Road. Bounded by Limitless Fitness at Long Circular Mall on one end, and the Fitness Centre Ltd at the other, this “Wellness Strip,” as we’ve dubbed it, has quickly become one of our favourite spots to hang out.

Whether you’re looking to find peace, grab a healthy-but-hard-to-pronounce ingredient, train like an athlete, or harness your inner Wonder Woman, this one-stop-strip has everything you need to live a healthy, fit, and mindful life.

We went behind the scenes to talk to the faces behind the big names – the entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, and risk-takers –  who day after day, continue to put their heart into helping you become your fittest, healthiest self.

MOVEMENT MECHANICS, GREGORY SEALE

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A haven for sports professionals, athletes, and the everyday Joe, Movement Mechanics is owned by former university football player Gregory Seale. After a short stint in mass communications, Seale left the world of words to follow his true passion – sport. A competitive athlete by nature, Seale found an immediate fit.

“In (mass communications), I was not getting the opportunity to move forward. I felt like I was stuck. It happened three times and on the third time, it just hit me and I just needed to do something different with my life, something that I love. And it clicked immediately,” he said.

And so he earned a Masters of Science in Kinesiology (specializing in sports performance) and opened Movement Mechanics as a specialist centre for clients looking to shore up on their fitness goals under his slightly distinct approach.

Movement Mechanics has no classes. Instead, clients are treated to individualised programs built on three core pillars – safety, efficiency, and performance.

“Let us say you come in and we determine that you have a very weak abdominal region, meaning you have poor stability. Immediately, I know that the squat is out of the question…let alone with a load. Traditionally what happens when people go to the gym, is that they start with the leg press or squat machines. But it’s not about starting cold turkey. We first try to figure out if your stabilisers can handle the weight before beginning a regimen. If your body can’t handle the load, we work to fix it. If it can, we work on making it more efficient,” he said.

Interested? We don’t blame you. Consultations begin with an initial assessment costing roughly $250-$400 TTD during which a client is taken through a series of movement and functionality tests. Following that, sessions cost approximately $180 TTD each and are as flexible as you need them to be.

Movement Mechanics is open from Monday to Saturday from 7 am-8pm, and Saturday 7 am to 1 pm, and is located on Stephens Road off Long Circular Road. 

BODY BEAT, ARIANNA KNAGGS + MARIEL HUGGINS

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Friends by night and business partners by day, Mariel and Arianna are the new kids on the Wellness Block. Their business, Body Beat, opened earlier in 2017, and focuses on helping clients move their ‘bodies to the beat.’

While both founders grew up involved in sports, their active lifestyles gave way to alternative career paths for a while. “I had a job in marketing but wasn’t  enjoying it or feeling fulfilled in my job. And then, all of a sudden, my boxing instructor migrated and offered me to take over teaching her classes, and it was a perfect fit,” Knaggs said. Not long after that, she teamed up with Huggins and together, the duo opened their first dedicated space.

Focusing on four main areas, Body Beat hosts morning and evening classes catering to clients of all fitness goals. Their TRX class involves bodyweight and suspension training to develop balance, strength, and flexibility. Their Body Blast and Body Sculpt classes work on high-intensity cardio-based exercises and strength training, and free weights, kettlebells and bands, respectively. Their fourth offering – boxing – combines martial arts, boxing and dance moves in a challenging (but still fun) full body workout.

Members sign up for monthly packages (ranging from 4 classes to unlimited drop-ins) for anywhere between $300 – $800 TTD at the beginning of each month, to be used within the month of purchase. Drop in classes can also be purchased and personal training.

Body Beat is open Mon-Fri from 5:30-11:00 am and 3-7:30 pm.

MALABAR FARMS GOURMET STORE, DANIELLE REMACLE

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From fitness, let’s move on to food.

A mainstay of the St. James landscape, Malabar Farms is an over 80-year-old venture that began as a food import distributor and supplier run by the Bovell family. The store is the business’s retail arm and is one of T&T’s oldest gourmet grocers.

Looking for detox tea, Iranian saffron, or that one ingredient you’ve-never-really-seen-but-read-about-once-in-a-cookbook? You’ve come to the right place. “We try to be unique so when we see some of our brands popping up elsewhere, we search again to get a unique line of the same product. We try our best to have products that are unique to Malabar,” said Danielle Remacle, the store’s manager.

And while there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of speciality food stores in T&T these days, we still find ourselves frequenting Malabar Farms, if not for anything other than the fact that they’re so conveniently located (and also because their halloumi cheese and bacon jam is divine)! Need to pick up something for dinner after your evening workout or get a head start on your weekend groceries? They’re right there. Not to mention their wide range of gluten-free breads, pastas, and wraps, and fine local products.

Malabar Meats is open from 9 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday, and from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.

AKASHA YOGAJACQUELINE QUESNEL, PAIGE TIM POW, GABY BESTON EDWARDS

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With over 40 years of yoga experience between them, it’s safe to say that founders Jacqueline Quesnel, Paige Tim Pow, and Gaby Beston Edwards are as close to wellness experts as anyone can be. 

Together, they run the Akasha Yoga Studio, the mindfulness and restorative heart of the Wellness Strip. With two massage therapists, a kinesiologist and a nutritionist on staff, Akasha is more than just an everyday yoga studio. 

The close-knit group met several years ago as friends, then travel and training buddies, and decided to create a space to “serve, and offer in terms of yoga, healing and wellness.” And so, four years ago, Akasha was born. 

The name derives from an ancient Sanskrit word that means space or ether. “It is a space held for potential. We like to think that we created a safe space for people to come and practice. We teach yoga primarily, but people come to the wellness centre too. It’s a holistic approach to your health,” Quesnel added.

Whether your end goal is stress-relief, weight loss, muscle development or flexibility, there’s something in yoga for everyone. Classes are divided according to levels – beginner, intermediate, everyone – and even include a pre-natal class for women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

The centre is open 7 days a week, with classes running in varying monthly schedules from 6 am – 10 am and then again from 4.30 pm – 8 pm on most days. For a more updated schedule, click here.

Not sure if yoga’s for you? Try out a class for free and then decide. Regular classes are priced at $65-$85 TTD per session or $500-$600 TTD for an unlimited monthly pass.

DIANNE’S TEA SHOP, DIANNE HUNT

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What’s wellness without food? And Dianne’s Tea Shop packs just the right amount of punch, with a pretty bow on top. Seriously though, we still can’t get over how stunning and elegant the feminine-inspired space is.

A brunch favourite, lunch favourite, and just about any-occasion favourite, Dianne’s is an oasis for anyone looking for inspiration, a great meal, or just a warm cup of tea.

And it’s not all about the food and fanfare. Dianne’s also hosts wellness workshops, empowerment seminars, and pop-ups, making the spot a must-visit on the Wellness Strip. A word of warning: If you’re looking to stop by for lunch or their famous tea, you might want to call ahead and reserve first!

Dianne’s is open from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekdays, from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm on Saturday, and from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm on Sundays

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