Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Geneadel Penglas: A fitness journey worth every step

Published:Wednesday | February 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Genedeal Penglas celebrates crossing the finish line at the 2014 CUMI Come Run
Competing for the prize
She also loves to cycle
Getting intense with aerobics
A great workout in spin class
Geneadel Penglas (back) approaching the finish line at the FLOW/PUMA Fortis 5K held in September 2017

She wasn't always a fitness fanatic. In fact, prior to 2009, Geneadel Penglas had only ever competed in one 5K event - the Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run. Her goal, however, was not to win or even place, but to have her first experience of the event.

Following that, when her weight increased to an unusual high of 165 lbs in the same year, she decided to make some serious decisions regarding her health. She went back to the Spartan Health Club.

Penglas explained that as a single mother with a limited budget who was pursuing a degree at that time, she had to give up going to the gym. Her weight gain was triggered by the numerous sales-related travels across the island, which made it difficult for her to include an exercise regime in her daily schedule.

Three years later, while still going to the gym and maintaining her general fitness, she decided to challenge herself by doing a full run at the 2012 Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run.

"I finally accepted a friend's invitation to run with his informal group We Run Tings on a Saturday. Fifteen minutes into it, when I got to a hill road on

the Hope Pastures route, I was really wondering what I was doing at the gym when I ran

out of breath! However, after that initial run, it hit home that really I could run pretty much anywhere," Penglas said.




Her motivation further peaked when her car was stolen two weeks later.

"I would run to the gym in the mornings before work! It took me 14 minutes to run there," Penglas said.

But it was like Penglas was injected with a drug that made her addicted to running, because soon after running the 2012 Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run, she sought out an old co-worker, Patrick Lee, who was a top-notch recreational athlete, and ended up joining his crew of fitness warriors which included coach Alan Beckford.

"Those two know how to bring weekly workouts to another level, but I was up for the challenge as one of the few females who dared keep up that rigorous schedule. They met up usually at 5 a.m., so that required an unusual ungodly 4:30 a.m. wake-up. We would

do track workouts and then

I would hit the gym afterward. After a while, I also ended up joining Pacers Running Club and, thereafter, my Saturday mornings also turned into long, crazy, 5 a.m. runs. All in good fun though, with a goal in mind for me," Penglas explained.

She explained that these combined workouts helped her to aim for and maintain her personal goal of being in the top 20 female finishers for all the 5K races she competed in.

"Since 2012, the frequency and number of 5K charity races have certainly increased, and it is very good, because that should mean that more and more Jamaicans are getting hooked on to a healthier lifestyle," Penglas said.




For her, the inaugural 2017 Jamaica Moves Corporate Challenge totally turned around the fourth quarter of 2017.

"It was an unexpected spark when I had dropped off on my frequency and level of fitness due to career challenges. After that first KC run on that rainy morning, destiny was sealed; I had no idea it was the beginning of a Jamaica Moves journey that would push me into a more intense self-motivated training plan and build new circles of rapport and inspiration among my co-workers," Penglas noted.

She further explained that the first race success encouraged other persons at Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) to join and sign up.

"I shared training plans I was familiar with so that everyone could have easily viewed guidelines to set their own goals to push themselves to perform and earn points for VMBS. The out-of-town runs were a special challenge, but we took them on with gusto and kept consistently presenting ourselves at each race to do our best," Penglas said.




"In the end, our best

was enough, and it certainly raised not only our company spirit, but also the bar for our fitness standards. I especially enjoy the fact that as a

female top performer I have encouraged/challenged other females to bring it - to stretch themselves and think more about maintaining their fitness weekly, reducing their weight, and staying conscious about diet choices and sitting for too long at our desks. It was definitely worth it and I would redo this challenge in a heartbeat," Penglas said.




The fitness enthusiast shared, "For my fellow Jamaicans, and females in particular, I would most certainly encourage you to take those first initial steps to form your new healthy lifestyle #NewLifeResolution for 2018 by:

- Slowly building up. For example, start with just moving your body for 25 minutes, even just power walking.

- Setting a consistent time or day(s) that work best for you and overcoming any mental block that stops you from getting out to just do it! If you can keep it up for two weeks, you can do it forever.

- Be willing to do it solo if you have to. It's more important to get it done. Just say a prayer and start.

- Try drinking sugarless tea with your lunch instead to cut some of the daily calories. Peppermint, green, or ginger tea works for me. I like to mix it up, much like my workouts.