“Women set the stage for the lifestyle of the family. Almost every woman we work with represents a family, an extended family, and the wider community.”
Located in Woodbrook, Studio W is a signature fitness and wellness facility that focuses on the well-being of the whole woman. It seeks to transform the health of a country wrought with chronic disease, by impacting one woman at a time.
The ‘W’ in the name represents not simply ‘women’, as some may assume, but also Wholistic Wellness.
“It was not meant to exclude men,” explains Dr. Allana Roach, the Owner and Director of Studio W. “The focus on women is strategic. In our society and Trinbagonian culture, women primarily do the grocery shopping, put food on the table, are there for the children’s extracurricular activities, and steer the family’s well-being.”
Dr. Roach believes that, through this focused approach on women in our society, women will be the catalyst for change in terms of health and wellness throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
From Genetics to Gym
Dr. Roach is a Human Geneticist by training, and holds a PhD in Genetics and Human Genetics from Howard University in Washington, United States.
She has held appointments as Director of the Program for Transdisciplinary Genomics at the National Human Genome Center at Howard University (HU); Assistant Professor of Community & Family Medicine at the HU College of Medicine; Lecturer in the Department of Genetics & Human Genetics (HU); guest lecturer at Addis Abba University in Ethiopia as well at The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT); and now as a Lecturer in the Public Health and Primary Care Unit in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies.
While studying and working abroad, she became increasingly alarmed at the rising statistics of chronic diseases in her homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. When her own parents became stricken with diabetes and high cholesterol, this served as the impetus for her to return and make a difference in the community.
“There is a noticeable burden of chronic disease, and increasing statistics of not only those who are diagnosed with diseases but those who are succumbing to these diseases,” she says. “Understanding this, I decided that the best use of my skills would be to establish that type of wholistic care centre that can help turn the tide and make a difference before it is too late.”
She notes that persons with a family history of illness often feel ‘destined’ to get the same illness, when in reality this is not true.
“Although there may be a genetic predisposition, it is the person’s lifestyle that impacts whether or not the disease will manifest,” she advises. “Genes may be the loaded gun, but the environment is the trigger.”
Another factor, she believes, is that many of the persons who really need to exercise, i.e. those who are morbidly obese and/or have medical conditions, may feel uncomfortable in our nation’s gyms. After they leave the doctor’s office with a diagnosis, there are few if any outpatient facilities for their ongoing care.
“There are also several marginalised groups in society,” she adds. “Elderly persons are made to feel as though exercise and fitness are only for ‘young people’, and are told to just ‘take a little walk’ — which may ignore other important aspects of training. Also, a significant portion of Studio W’s clientele is Muslim women, for whom there may not be other appropriate environments to exercise.”
Studio W: Wholistic Wellness
Established in 2011, Studio W is a multi-faceted boutique fitness facility. The Studio offers customised training routines to ensure that each woman, regardless of age, health status and personal fitness goals, can get fit and live a healthy lifestyle.
Each member receives free personalised training sessions with a Certified Fitness Trainer, as well as other benefits such as discounts at Natalie Day Spa and Iris Image Consulting, two businesses that are integrated into the Studio W facility and form part of the family of services.
Some of the Personalised Training Services include:
- Personalised “Fit Me” Training Package: the Fit Me experience includes customised fitness routines with the guidance of a personal trainer, six (6) weeks of Signature Meal Plans, and progress monitoring in a small group environment.
- Group Fitness Classes: these classes include yoga, pilates, and outdoor bootcamp.
- Health Coaching: personalised health coaching sessions adopt an inclusive, wholistic approach to explore concerns specific to the individual. A personal health coach will provide the support and guidance to make sustainable changes to one’s lifestyle and health status.
- Wellness Coaching: a wellness coach will provide the support and guidance you need to make sustainable changes to achieve a balanced life.
- Nutrition Coaching: these one-to-one nutrition coaching sessions will help you navigate the world of contradictory nutrition advice to determine what changes are necessary for you. Support, motivation and diet planning advice is provided to help you stay on track and achieve your goals.
There are also several signature programmes including:
Weight Loss “Transform” Programme
This unique, culturally-relevant weight loss programme is guaranteed to help you lose weight, reduce your risk for chronic diseases and help you lead a healthier lifestyle. The programme includes 3-4 training sessions per week, customised meal plans, health coaching session(s) and monthly group meetings.
Survivor’s “Hope” Programme
This is designed specifically for cancer survivors. This program includes yoga/personalised training sessions per week, monthly therapeutic massage(s), monthly health coaching and nutrition coaching session(s) and a standing invitation to the monthly Survivor’s Meeting.
Chronic Disease “Live Well” Programme
The Live Well Program is a supervised lifestyle intervention program for individuals diagnosed with a chronic (lifestyle) disease such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Specifically, the programme features prescribed physical activity, customised meal plans and tools to ensure healthy behavioural change including a standing invitation to the Studio’s monthly Live Well Meetings.
Corporate Wellness Plans
The experts at the W will work with you to develop a customised Corporate Wellness Plan that captures the interest of your employees and contributes to the growth and profitability of your company.
Studio W and the Community
Although Dr. Roach has made a seamless career transition into entrepreneurship, she is unable to leave behind her desire for community outreach, which she now incorporates into Studio W as it continues to expand.
Much of the work she does exceeds the physical limitations of the Studio itself. For instance, she recently visited a church to lead a seminar with their women’s group. There is also a shelf at the entrance to the Studio designed for local entrepreneurs to showcase their goods and services, such as soaps, creams, clothing and other items produced in the community.
Also, Studio W hosts the ‘Women Of Worth’ programme, which invites women from shelters in the country to meet with the W staff and other experts to discuss topics such as self-defence techniques and dressing appropriately for a job interview.
“I believe in living with a purpose,” Dr. Roach states. “I put everything into starting this facility, and sought the expertise of like-minded individuals who want to do this not for the money but because there is a need and demand for these services.”
Her Studio W team of experts includes:
- Keron Draper, who has been a personal trainer for over 25 years, and manages the gym facility
- Sinead Charles, who has a nursing background and became a health coach after seeing loved ones suffer due to poor health and lifestyle choices
- Nisha Lall, a female trainer who has a passion for helping women and champions the Women of Worth programme
- Chimene Apang, the main yoga instructor
- Kent Wilkinson, who leads the bikram yoga classes
- Sunita Sanker, who leads the prenatal yoga classes
- Adam Roberts, who leads the kettlebell classes
- Tonya Thomas, a nutritionist
- Carlos Wilson, the bootcamp instructor
There are also many volunteers, some of whom started off as clients and now return frequently to help others along their journey.
Dr. Roach believes that in order address the gaps in the health sector, the Ministry of Health needs the support of skilled people such as these, who have a passion or background in healthcare and are willing to devote their time to making a real difference.
“We can’t just sit in our offices and have intellectual discussions about the problems we have as a society,” she states. “There are so many gaps, so many loopholes to fill. There are a lot of people willing to do the work but we cannot operate in silos.”
One of these gaps is in the foundational research behind chronic diseases.
“We have been using data derived from other countries, primarily the United States,” she adds.
“We need to encourage and support research on our people, our populations, our genes and our environment. If we truly want to improve health, the solution lies in academic research, coupled with strengthening of communities. In the health industry, community is integral as the fundamental unit of inquiry and impact.
“Improving health is a multifaceted that will require a multi-pronged approach. It is not just about diet and exercise, but about contributions to the larger issues. Self-esteem, purpose, empowerment, triumph, real change — all of this is encapsulated in the ‘W’ symbol, which represents not just Women or this facility, but a movement of Wholistic change.”
For more information, call 1-868-622-9394. You can also visit the Studio W website and check out their Facebook page.
What You Need to Know
- Some of the key costs are as follows:
- Weight Loss “Transform”: TT$900 per month
- Survivors’ “Hope”: TT$1100 per month
- Chronic Disease “Live Well”: TT$800 per month
- Personalised “Fit Me” Training: $500 per month
- Group Fitness Classes: TT$50 per person per class
- Health Coaching: TT$250 per month
- Wellness Coaching: TT$250 per month
- Nutrition Coaching: TT$350 per month
- If you are interested in the Transform and other programmes designed for health purposes, please note that you may be required to visit your physician prior to being accepted for the programme.
- Not all services are limited to women only. Men are invited for outdoor sessions, and for sessions that involve the use of the training room downstairs. Services in the upstairs training facility are however limited to women only. There are also special services for men and children — please contact Studio W to inquire about these.
- Massage Therapy is also available at Natalie Day Spa, as well as Makeup, Manicure, Pedicure and Facial Services. Spa and Makeup parties are available upon request. Please contact Studio W directly for more information on these.