Chyna Whyne... Walking in stilettos
SHE has been given the title 'high heel guru' by a number of international magazines and women she was trained to master the art of wearing high heels.
Chyna Whyne has first-hand experience of the damage walking in high heels can cause if not done properly, and so she is now focused on helping women not to fall in the trap that she did.
Now she has journeyed from London to Jamaica to teach women how to walk in stilettos.
"You know I was touring the world with artist Eric Clapton, wearing killer heels, and I had serious chronic lower back pains as a result of it," she explained. "I did one year with him and after finishing I couldn't actually wear high heels anymore. Somebody told me about the Alexander Technique, I hadn't heard about it but I was curious. I went and I did lessons and the results were amazing week after week."
That was when the stiletto addict discovered that balance and poise were the keys to walking in high heels.
The Alexander Technique is the study of movement. It teaches the human body how to achieve perfect balance and perfect posture and teaches how to move with ease.
"It helps conditions like back pain, neck pain, joint problems, asthma, Parkinson's disease, etc," Whyne explained.
"We are in a culture today where posture is so bad...I really see the need for training. All we have to do is look around and look at the way that women are walking in heels and we'll see that women are having a bit of a struggle, and as much as women love heels, nobody has ever taught them how to wear the heels properly, so they continue to wear them and end up in pain and have all sorts of problems. But heel lovers just can't let them go, they would rather suffer and go through, but we don't need to suffer anymore. We can get it right," she said.
Her training was so effective that her teacher suggested she train to be an Alexander trainer.
"This was really the furthest thing from my mind 'cause all I wanted to do was to get back into my high heels so I could continue my music and modelling career," she explained in amusement. "So eventually I took three years out of my music and modelling and studied the Alexander Technique."
That was in 1999. She graduated in 2002.
"It was during that time that I started to come up with the concept of how to master the art of wearing high heels 'cause I wanted to get back into wearing high heels without having any sort of back problems or anything like that," she said. "And when I graduated I was back in my high heels and no back pains. So I thought, 'I am on to something, I could take this to women around the world!' So that's how it was born really."
After further research into developing the technique, she has travelled to Jamaica with the desire to set up the Walking in Stilettos headquarters in New Kingston.
"I want to launch my whole technique from here because I just think Jamaica is such a powerful place in the world and so much comes out of this island that influences the world. I think Walking in Stilettos is something that is going to have a world impact. And having that come out of Jamaica is great."
Whyne said female artistes who have to perform on stage in very high heels should consider being trained in the Alexander Technique.
"Especially with female artistes, Lady Saw for example, she has her track Love You With My High Heels On, I have never seen her perform before but I heard that she kicks her high heels off two songs into her show and does it in flats. So one of my challenges is get Lady Saw strutting in those high heels throughout the show, because she has got to wear them for that song anyway. So she might as well come and get this thing right," Whyne laughed.
"I work with the Alexander Technique to get the body balanced, aligned and poised, and then I'll get you strutting in the heels and give you the tips afterwards," she said. "So most women don't even realise that they are out of balance and when you put high heels on you have a tendency to lean forward, they are not quite comfortable, not quite light on their feet, so balance is key.
"This is education and it needs to be taken seriously. Hundreds of thousands of women around the world — businesswomen, models, etc, they have to wear their heels every day for work and just as people pay the mortgage on their houses or buy new cars, women need to come and learn to walk in high heels and get it right."
While she is known as Chyna Whyne, she explained that it is much more than just a name.
"Chyna Whyne is a brand and within that brand is an artist, a model, an actress and a company called Walking in Stilettos and I'm an Alexander teacher, so within this brand you have many spin-offs," she said.
She has been in Jamaica for the last eight months trying to set up her headquarters while also teaching women how to walk in heels.
She said the Walking in Stilettos headquarters will have 'Chyna dolls', women trained to be Walking in Stilettos ambassadors, who will conduct workshops.
It will also have her shoe and handbag line; her book Mastering the art of wearing high heels — 10 hot tips (already on the market); a nail salon; and a runway complete with models — just about anything catering to the beauty and health of women.
"So it's going to be a very, very exciting place. We want it to be an international spot. So we want the top models coming in from Milan, Paris, all over, coming in to get the training in Jamaica. They can get their catwalk training because this catwalk training will be totally different from any other catwalk training there is because we deal with the Alexander training," she explained.
Born in England to two Jamaican parents, Chyna Whyne grew up singing in the church since the age of three.
"That was my first memory of performing. I was about three, four years old," she recalled. "I remember singing in the church and they used to give me drops and grater cake, that was like my reward for singing," she laughed. "So I was like, 'This is fabulous. All I have to do is sing and I get drops and grater cake after church!'" she laughed.
At the age of 18 she started touring with artistes like Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Boney M, Eric Clapton and Seal as their back-up singer.
The mother of two boys, aged 22 and 17, confessed that she is very good at time management which is a major part of her success.
While she is focused on setting up her headquarters, she is currently conducting seminars, workshops, one-on-one classes and does speaking engagements to women and men teaching the Alexander Technique from the Red Bones pavilion Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
She is also working on an album Dutch Pot, which will feature a track, Walking in Stilettos.