Sat | Aug 13, 2022

Road to Carnival: One-week challenge for bacchanalists

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2022 | 12:11 AMStephanie Lyew - Gleaner Writer
Fast and Furious workout session with Shani McGraham Shirley, principal of Yah Suh Fitness.
Fast and Furious workout session with Shani McGraham Shirley, principal of Yah Suh Fitness.
Staying in shape should be a year-round endeavour.
Staying in shape should be a year-round endeavour.
The countdown to carnival in Jamaica is on.
The countdown to carnival in Jamaica is on.

The countdown to Carnival in Jamaica – The Summer Edition has already begun and with one week left, the gyms and fitness hubs which had a few people doing a little bit of warm-up can hardly find space for members who are looking to participate in the various sessions to improve their bodies.

According to Shani McGraham-Shirley, the principal at Yahsuh Fitness Limited, carnival can be a time when those who have been not exercising or preparing their bodies all year can be noticed.

“It’s the ones who say they are going to crash diet – no carbs, no meat, dropping their calorie intake – all to lose weight. And sure, you will lose weight but you’ll also be lacking energy. Calories equal fuel and energy for the body,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.

She added, “At this time, with one week to go, persons should not be obsessing about being thin or small. Thin doesn’t say fit nor does it necessarily say sexy and it certainly does not guarantee that you’re going to be good, healthy, and able for the road. Fit says that.”

Staying in shape should be a year-round endeavour because there is no 10-day workout or seven-day strict fitness and diet regimen when starting from zero to be fully prepared for a strenuous day, marching, dancing, and consuming alcohol for long distances.

McGraham-Shirley expressed, “Anything too quick and too fast runs the risk of injury.”

The one-week challenge that bacchanalists should take on is to make being ‘carnival body’ ready a lifestyle and starting today, love that body you have because that’s the body you are going to take on the road for carnival, but, yes there is a but, you can improve your fitness level each day leading up to the day.


DAY 1: SUNDAY – Look at yourself in the mirror


There may have been goals and expectations made to lose 30 pounds or more, lose the belly fat and have a six-pack to boast in your costume but if that has not been achieved as yet, forget those and write new ones. Start by saying ‘I love my body and this is the body that’s going to have fun feting’. Be realistic with the goals you are setting for yourself. The goals that must be set now must include empowering yourself and building up energy because in the words of McGraham-Shirley, “You want to enjoy the experience, so, whether you are a little rounder the question should be, am I fit? If the energy is low and you’re feeling pop down, you are not going to feel confident, empowered, or sexy on the road.”



DAY 2: MONDAY – Don’t crash diet, but take a look at your diet


Having a good workout routine is good, but it means nothing if you are eating fast foods and sweets throughout the day or not consuming the right amount, or having a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein and vitamins. Eat complex carbohydrates, such as those found in oats, sweet potatoes, yams, whole grains, quinoa, and nuts. Eat proteins that boost muscle growth. Nutritionists say persons should aim to eat five to six small meals a day to keep their metabolism elevated. When consuming vegetables and protein, all of a sudden on carnival day when the liquor is overflowing, from that first cup of an alcoholic beverage, if there are no carbs to absorb it, you’re already too intoxicated to enjoy the day said McGraham-Shirley.


DAY 3: TUESDAY – Focus on toning and cardio


Increase cardiovascular fitness and increase breathing. Take moments throughout the day and breathe. It can be done when sitting or in a standing position. Slowly push air out of the lungs then inhale until your lungs are filled to maximum capacity, hold your breath and then exhale. Then start doing this, when walking. Today, as you walk up the steps at your workplace or home, or even walking on the road, up a hill on an incline, practise breathing. Let this become a habit.


DAY 4: WEDNESDAY – Join the Fit Fiyah Soca Series


It’s the final week of the Fit Fiyah Soca Series. The experience is fun and you will leave feeling fit. It is also a great way to test your endurance. Carnival is about non-stop movement and dancing with friends. “It is an endorphin-releasing experience,” the trainer said, adding that the series mimics this. In the 90-minute session, several trainers will demonstrate moves that will work every muscle in the body. If you are unable to join, don’t be lazy. In the privacy of your home, find a soca playlist or soca-dancehall mix and just dance – rotate the hips, do some deep squats, run from the end of the yard to the next – just enjoy yourself.


DAY 5: THURSDAY – Do some strength training


If you are going to the gym, focus on lifting a little less weight and doing more repetitions of simple exercises that will help build muscular endurance. Strength training is doing an exercise repeatedly for an extended period without tiring yourself. It helps to build that stamina you need and will ultimately show you if you are ready for the road.


DAY 6: FRIDAY – Have you been sleeping?


We know the Carnival in Jamaica 2022 calendar is filled with lots of soca fetes that you don’t want to miss. But, if you have been working long hours or out and about consuming alcohol from Sunday to Thursday, it’s time you consider getting some rest. Instead of going out tonight, do some stretches, enjoy a nice long shower or bath, and rub yourself down with some essential oils especially one with chamomile, eucalyptus, peppermint, or lemongrass that will help the muscles relax, clear the airways and help with breathing. Then go to sleep.


DAY 7: SATURDAY – Drink water and mind your business


The day before carnival is sometimes stressful for some people, especially females who wait last minute to make sure they have all their accessories (I’m guilty as charged!), get their hair done, and check if the makeup artist remembers about the early appointment. In all of this, some people forget to eat but most importantly, forget to drink water. To last tomorrow, the day before you should drink water while you mind your business, Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. McGraham-Shirley emphasized, “The sun is hot, your body needs to be hydrated and you also don’t want muscle contractions, you want to be limber and mobile. Today, you should also consume those complex carbs (the yam, the quinoa, etc.) you want a fuel source in your body that lasts for a longer time, trust that fruits and vegetables will burn off in no time.”


THE DAY: SUNDAY – We ready for the road


Remember you are beautiful and wonderfully made. A true ‘bacchanalist’ and soca music lover is going out on the road to enjoy themselves – so go out there loving the skin you are in. That is a challenge within itself for some of us, but it is one you have to be willing to accept. Don’t forget to stretch and if you need to stop and take a breather while on the road, do it. Pack all the necessities, including sunscreen lotion into a small bag or carrying case, make sure you have a water bottle, and have fun.