Television personality, entrepreneur, wife, mother, personal trainer are but some of the many titles that this remarkable young woman juggles on a daily basis. COCO magazine is indeed honoured to talk with Kamila about a topic that is near and dear to her, fitness, and her business JamRock Fitness.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Kamila is the epitome of a strong Caribbean woman; brains, beauty and grace. The list of her achievements include, Stanford University graduate, founder of ‘Catch a Fyah’ Stanford’s first Afro-Caribbean Dance group and Miss Jamaica World Beach Beauty 2009. She is multilingual; speaking Spanish, French, Norwegian and Swahili in addition to English, a skill she hopes to pass on to her young daughter. A firm believer in destiny, Kamila is certain that everything in life happens for a reason, including her own personal battles, which she now uses to help and inspire others.
Merissa: What was your motivation for starting your company?
Kamila: “I once struggled with my weight, and lost myself in the process. Whilst I was on a 2-3 year journey of finding myself, I found fitness and realized I was very passionate about helping others through their struggle. I believe in destiny and I have questioned if I went through that process for a reason – to set me up to be able to help others having experienced it myself”.
Growing up in a Rastafarian household, which is based on the principles of eating natural foods and ital, Kamila was naturally healthy; she was also very athletic taking part in swimming, dance, gymnastics and tennis. Her battle with her weight started at age 18 when she left home for the first time to study in Norway. She recalls “The cold weather, staying indoors more, lots of chocolate, hot chocolate and eating lots of pasta with my Italian neighbor resulted in me gaining a lot of weight. Before then I was living at home, I had never given any thought to what I was eating. That was a very difficult and low period in my life. I felt like I had lost myself. I realized how much your weight can define you; how it can direct your feelings about yourself, your confidence and drive. So I started a process of self rediscovery and in the process found fitness”.
Ever one to challenge herself, long before reaching her ideal weight, Kamila set herself the ultimate goal of being pageant ready, and not just any pageant, Miss Jamaica World (2009). Although she did not walk away with the crown, she was awarded Miss Jamaica World Beach Beauty 2009, a true testament to the fruits of her hard work. Her weight loss achievements were also noted and admired by the general public with people frequently requesting tips and advice.
“I was working as a television presenter for ‘Onstage’ a Jamaican entertainment programme and, people saw the changes. I would get approached directly or via Facebook. I spent a lot of time answering questions about how I lost the weight and I realized I was very passionate about it all. Because I was offering fitness advice, and I wasn’t certified, I figured I should get certified so I went ahead and got a sport nutrition in fitness and personal trainer certification”.
JamRock Fitness was born in 2009 with a clear vision of providing an effective and affordable fitness package. On offer is a comprehensive package, which includes exercise, nutritional and healthcare support and advice. Fitness newsletters and Internet blogs are also part of her arsenal to raise awareness and target a wider audience. She explains “Every week I try to tackle a different nutritional issue. I hope that through the blog posts people can learn and understand something different. Even though the blogs are written with an international audience in mind, I definitely have the Caribbean at heart because obesity is a huge issue. I’ve also contacted the local paper and hope to be a regular contributor in the health pages. I am also in the process of putting together a proposal directed at the Jamaica Ministry of Health. They haven’t had an obesity campaign in a few years so I want to get one started.
And her vision for the company?
“With technological advancements and the beauty of the internet JamRock Fitness has followers as far afield as Australia. I eventually see this becoming an online business, where the things key to JamRock Fitness, the programmes, the support being globally accessible. In the pipeline however I have something that will hopefully launch before the summer. All my secrets packaged up for you. A way to work out with me wherever you are in the World…my business partner will kill me if I say more”.
To avoid any chance of a national incident brought about my curious mind, and my temptation to start guessing I decide to find out about Kamila the person.
Merissa: You come from a musical family; do you have any musical skills?
Kamila: Yes I do. I play 2 instruments: piano and guitar, which I started at age 6. I also perused singing for a while some years ago, I was part of a group called ‘Kolors’.
I am constantly surrounded by music, although I’m not actively perusing it now, it’s not completely ruled out.
Merissa: You are married to internationally renowned reggae artiste Jah Cure. What do you call him?
Kamila: Toral. That’s a nickname his parents gave him. I mainly call him that when I’m upset. Otherwise it’s just Babes…
Merissa: How did you meet?
Kamila: We met by chance in this random plaza, again destiny. I was leaving a date, he was entering a clothing store. He called me over and we chatted.
Merissa: You recently welcomed a baby girl into your family. Were you concerned about the changes your body would go through during pregnancy?
Kamila: Pregnancy is one of the biggest reasons why people fall off the horse and can never regain control of their weight, so that fear lived in me for my entire pregnancy. I kept my cravings in check. I felt very strongly about not losing myself again. I had learnt what it took to stay fit and healthy and I was adamant that I would do it that way. Pregnancy is a life-changing journey, so to prepare I downloaded ebooks, videos, spoke with doctors, I watched what I ate and exercised. But most importantly I listened to my own body: maternal instinct.
Merissa: How quickly did you regain your figure?
Kamila: Over the pregnancy I gained 27lbs and I lost it pretty quickly. As soon as I got clearance from the doctor, I started working out again. It takes about 1 year to really get back to feeling like yourself, and I only felt that way a few months ago.
Merissa: Do you think you are hypersensitive about your weight?
We are all our own worst critics. We black women strive for excellence. I don’t believe in skinny, just overall healthiness and that goes beyond the esthetics of looking good, it’s the numerous benefits to being healthy. I have my moments, because I have a sweet tooth, candy is my weakness but it’s all about moderation and balance.
Merissa: Have you taken your hubby on this fitness journey?
Kamila: The most fitness he does is on his Xbox, playing football games.
That being said, by nature, he’s a healthy eater, he makes amazing shakes, blended juices and cooking vegetarian. He keeps me in check when I miss meals because of my schedule. He respects the fact that I have embraced this life we work well together.
Merissa: Are you an advocate of the vegetarian lifestyle?
I grew up in a Rastafarian household where the only meat we cooked at home was fish. I also eat chicken to balance out my protein intake. I’ve never eaten red met. I don’t discourage eating red meat, but from a health perspective it is much higher in saturated fat and it is advisable to limit the intake. Chicken and fish are a healthier option. That is the message I pass on to my clients.
Exercise and pregnancy tips (newly pregnant, new moms)
Unless specifically advised otherwise
- Walking: as simple as it sounds it’s amazing. Walking throughout the duration will form the basis for a better delivery
- Oatmeal: It is high in fiber and gives the fuller for longer feeling.
- Applesauce, unsweetened: I use this as a sugar alternative
- Almonds, raw unsalted: great snack
- Quinoa: a great alternative to rice, high in protein, lower in carbohydrates
- Fruit and veg: A must. I have some with every meal
- Green tea
- Coffee: This one is debatable, I know, but for me 1 cup is enough to keep me topped up.
Merissa: What is your favourite exercise/body part to work out?
Kamila: I believe that if your legs look fit and stomach is flat and toned it defines the rest of your look.
- Legs: squats
- Abs: lower core
Merissa: What is your greatest achievement?
Kamila: Being able to affect a change in someone’s life: being able to touch a life, being a ray of hope.
Her passion for fitness is contagious and her dedication to a healthy lifestyle is apparent. I know for certain, a JamRock bootcamp session is a must do on my next trip to Jamaica. Until then, her weekly blogs and fitness challenges will have to suffice!