FOR Sigourney Hastings-Cox, learning and development manager at Sandals Montego Bay, training the mind as well as the body has taken on an even greater significance with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high-powered but free-spirited manager is not only responsible for training the over 600 team members at Sandals' flagship resort, but has been carving out a niche as one of the top fitness trainers on the north coast, with appearances as class conductor on CVM television and social media.
The journey of balancing fitness, work and everyday life can be a challenging one, and especially so for women, but Hastings-Cox is testament that no matter your gender, it takes true commitment, dedication and a great support system to accomplish any goal, especially when incorporating fitness and balancing family and work.
“The pandemic brought clarity for me and brought forward the importance of health; therefore one must develop the mind, body and strength to make it easier to handle challenges as they come,” she says, a twinkle in her eyes as she clears the white board in preparation for a training session at the resort.
It is her belief that events that stress the brain eventually begin to show on the body.
“So find an approach to life that keeps the mind settled. Aim to be the best version of you every day.”
Hastings-Cox takes her job as learning and development manager very seriously, ensuring that the high standard required of team members at Sandals Montego Bay are taught and reinforced. She takes great satisfaction when she sees team members who have passed through her training sessions blossom into outstanding workers.
The closure of the tourism industry brought numerous challenges, but conducting the resort chain's COVID-19 platinum protocol of cleanliness training is something she enjoys and is happy that the company created such a comprehensive programme. Now that the tourism sector has reopened and her beloved team members are back at work and able to resume providing for their families financially, Hastings-Cox has used her love and interest in fitness and health to share directly with her team on taking care of their overall health.
“It's a joy to be able to mold and shape minds, particularly in the hospitality industry which is such an important sector in Jamaica,” Hastings-Cox observes. “I feel like a proud teacher watching my students excel.”
On the fitness side of the equation, Hastings-Cox has always maintained a level of fitness, having competed on her track and field team in high school, but says there was always a challenge for her with consistency.
Her true passion for the world of fitness started in 2018, a year after the birth of her son. Due to her pregnancy, Hastings-Cox experienced drastic weight gain which in turn began to affect her metabolism and self-esteem. Having a new baby, not being able to keep up with him and balance her daily activities, ill-fitting clothes and not feeling comfortable in her own skin, pushed her to join the gym and get a personal trainer.
The beginning was not easy for her. She accepted the challenge that exercising produced; however, without a proper balance in time management for all her activities, it started to become a bit challenging. This led to the creation of her support system, consisting of her husband and mother-in-law who she credits for giving her the needed assistance to balance all the aspects of her life. It also pushed her to create a schedule for herself that she sticks to even to this very day.
Her day begins at 4:00 am where she takes the first hour of the morning to breathe, reflect, talk to God and plan her day. Then it's off to the gym and her busy day begins.
“Never forget to make time for your family in the mornings; give them love, fill them with positivity and pray over their day as well,” Hastings-Cox adds. Without her support system she wouldn't be able to accomplish half of what she has today and believes that just as much as you wish to receive, you should give to others as well.
Hastings-Cox enforces her belief in self-love expressing, “One must exercise not just the body, but the mind and spirit as well; all have to be in full alignment to be able to give the best of you. Feed yourself positivity, affirm your daily intentions. You cannot pour from into an empty cup and you cannot give of yourself to every aspect of your life if you are not whole, so remember to take time for you.”
Exercise has contributed to her development both physically and mentally. The pandemic brought clarity for her and taught her that what is most important is health of the mind and body. Now, when challenges come, her approach is to find the lesson and put her best foot forward.
Today, she balances a busy work schedule at Sandals Montego Bay, her family and her fitness. She shares tips and tricks for exercising on her Instagram page, where she readily motivates others to join her campaign and become better versions of themselves.
Her advice to others looking to take their health seriously, is that its more than just how you look, it's how you feel mentally, spiritually and physically.
“Why do you want to change? This should be your motivation.”
She stresses that encouragement from a good support system, whether it is friends or family or your co-workers, goes a long way.
“Motivation gets you started; determination gets you to the finish line.”