‘Alarming’, is how certified fitness trainer and Outdoor Fitness founder Craig Walkine describes findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which ranks The Bahamas as the 6th most obese country in the world, based on 2014 statistics.
Walkine sees it as a challenge and is intent on doing his part to lower that ranking. “It’s alarming for sure and I’m amazed at how very little attention is being paid to this. I understand that there are other issues we are facing as a country but we are literally killing ourselves, eating ourselves to death. These are easy fixes, meaning we need to move more and we also need to be more discerning in terms of what we are eating. It’s really a matter of reducing the amount of processed and fried foods that we eat and becoming more active, says Walkine.
An obesity rate of 36.2 per cent pushed the country ahead of regional counterparts like Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, who ranked 12 and 13 on the top 25 list. The United States came in ninth on the list. Bahamian women had a significantly higher rate of obesity than men, according to the data compiled by HealthGrove, a health research firm that sourced WHO data from countries with populations that exceeded 150,000.
The obesity rate was calculated as the rate of people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30 as of 2014. The island nation of Samoa claimed the title of the most obese country in the world with a rate of 43.4 per cent. Samoa has a population of 195,476. Arab countries Qatar and Kuwait came in second and third respectively. The Bahamas’ obesity rate jumped nearly three percentage points from 2010 when the rate was 33.5 per cent.
“If that isn’t alarming I don’t know what else is. US fitness trainers are trying to do our best. Unfortunately what happens is people usually come to us after a diagnosis and want to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Fitness has to be a lifestyle as opposed to a reaction. Bahamians have to become more health conscious,” says Walkine.
Walkine says that fitness has always been a passion of his. “I’ve been involved in athletics for a number of years. I used to play basketball for the national team and played locally for a number of years and played in college as well. I came home and fitness was always my passion. You go to school get a degree and you take a job to do something but I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I was just waiting and looking for the right opportunity. About five years ago in my I decided to just start a group within my neighborhood and so I passed out some flyers, got some people interested and that’s how it stated, in a park, with about seven people.”
“I was still working so I was doing that part time. In January of this year I decided to pursue my passion full-time. I think we are one of the first to start this outdoor fitness phenomena. Being in the gym is fine but if you like nature and fresh there is no better place to be than outdoors.”
Walkine says that his clients range from 17-76. “It’s pretty broad. We have people who had strokes, people who can hardly walk but we give them upper body exercises and other movements modified to their fitness levels. I think that that has been key. The movement has been growing. I think people are starting to realize the importance of it but again unfortunately people are coming after they have been to the doctors and if we could tackle that beast I think we will be ok. We do the full gambit of fitness, nutritional plans and help them with their exercises and exercise modification. We have 23 sessions a week. We do mornings, two mornings six days a week and two evening sessions six days a week. When clients sign up they can participate in up to four sessions per week. When clients sign up they can mix and match the sessions; they can come some mornings and some. The sessions are 45 minutes to an hour long and we focus on what I like to call full body metabolic workouts.”