Crunch time

Challenges. Rewards (cheesecake, anyone?). Inspiration. We chat with Carmen Roberts,
a biokineticist who loves to transform people, one by one.

Indulging in a slice of cheesecake at one of her fave coffee shops. Carmen Roberts is not one bit hesitant to enjoy the sweeter things in life. And that is exactly what makes her so relatable. Yes, you can have dessert and still be healthy. Best. News. Ever.
But then … training time, and then she puts her game face on. A little bit like a drill sergeant, but in the nicest possible way. Carmen’s journey to the fitness industry kicked off in primary school. She literally did every single sport in school she possible could, including cricket and shooting. So living an active lifestyle comes as natural as breathing to her. She studied physiotherapy but quickly realised the clinical setup is not quite for her. So when a psychometric test suggested Biokinetics, she was all in. Today, Carmen is the owner of the popular and successful Wellness Evolution Centre, which includes her biokinetics practice.

How do you balance dessert and fitness?
My motto is not restricting but rather understanding lifestyle behaviours in moderation. There is a place for a perfect routine when your mind is ready for it, but there also comes a time when you need to understand that if you are at a wedding, a braai, or a social gathering, a bowl of ice cream is okay! That part of my job is my ultimate fulfilment because I know most people either commit fully for a certain period, then fall off the bus again when it comes to nutrition and exercise. The yo-yo lifestyle! It’s hard for people to find a ‘happy medium’! To help people understand moderation is so rewarding. It takes time to get there mentally, but it’s worth it when I see the psychological change within them.

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What do you specialise in?
Back rehabilitation … because it makes so much sense to me that people need to take care of their backs for ultimate health and vitality. Also, knee rehabilitation. I had a very serious ski injury, and thought I would not be able to walk properly or train ever again.
After a long journey, two operations, being on a movement machine (CPM) six hours a day for three weeks, and doing my own proper rehabilitation, I have a huge passion and understanding for that specific joint.

Although, my ultimate speciality is body transformations. I like to transform people by changing holistic lifestyle behaviours (eating, exercise, self-belief) according to their own capabilities, age and needs. I love to transform people from the inside out. Your self-beliefs will manifest in your daily routines and behaviour. There is a misconception that exercise = suffering. If you understand the body and movement, you can strengthen, tone, rehabilitate and transform so much without suffering. Yes, it is an effort, but you don’t need to ‘die’ to get results.

What has been your greatest challenge?
I was in a few toxic relationships, and relationships with addicts … You lose so much of yourself; you can die emotionally and starve your dreams. I decided to fight hard for me as a unique and worthy woman, and an individual with God-given purpose. You need to make a very deliberate and conscious choice to stand up, move forward and live victoriously. This definitely contributed to my passion for individual holistic transformations. I know the journey and how hard it can feel to change your life for good! In the transformation environment it is essential to be empathic and understanding, and I can relate to so many people. I know today that it is indeed possible to turn your life around!

You are a shopaholic. Right?
For sure! I love to go to the Freddy shop, simply because I love the comfort of their jeans. I absolutely love a nice pair of running shoes, elegant dresses and jewellery. Shopping relaxes me and definitely feels like my reward after a week of working very hard!

You have a huge passion for animals?
I bought a house from an Italian, so all my cats have Italian names – Birba, Kutchelong, Pascolina, Melvis and Chichita. They are very old and tame, and love people and cuddles. My four dogs were all homeless and rescues. Rose is adorable and everyone just wants her when they see her. Shadow was abused and I adopted him from the SPCA. Luke I adopted from the Hartbeespoort Animal Welfare Society, and Percy … he just pitched up thin and hungry. I started to feed him and later he started sleeping in my garden. Then I took him in. My rabbits came from when I was much younger, and the skinny pigs were just so adorable when I saw them at the pet shop. I had to have them. I would love to sleep in the same room as my skinny pigs but they are very loud and talkative …

Why can’t you start your day without a cappuccino?
I think cappuccino is my ‘dummy’. It literally uplifts me and makes me emotionally and physically ready for the day. I’ve had some of the best chats with a cappuccino in my hand. So, every single day at 7.30am, one of my clients drives to KFC to get my daily fix (spoilt!). On weekends, I go to different restaurants or coffee houses for my cappuccino experience.

What inspires you?
People who struggle or even feel weak. I am not a trainer for those wanting to be ‘perfect’. I get inspired by stories of how you overcame, how you struggled and achieved, how you fell, and got up again.

What do people not know about you?

I have a Unisa Grade 6 in piano, and also gave piano lessons while studying. And I love, love, love Latin American dancing. I always do a show dance for my transformers at my gala evening.

Three of Carmen’s easy exercises you can try at home:

  • Wall pushups: Hands shoulder height against the wall and wider than shoulders. Stand 1m away from the wall on toes. Bend elbows and take forehead to wall and push back until elbows are straight. Stay on your toes. 15x.
  • Squat hold with heel lifts: Feet wider than hip-width apart. Push hips back and bend knees. Don’t take knees forward over toes. Keep bum back. Put elbows on upper legs.  Keep tummy slightly tight. Keep this position while lifting the heels and drop again. 30x
  • Bridge on your bathroom mat: On the back, feet hip-width apart. Feet flat and not too far away from body. Also not too close. Lift hips from the floor until a straight line with knees and shoulders. Keep tummy in slightly. Lift one leg up to the roof and bend knee 90 degrees. Hold 5 counts. Swap legs. 5 counts. Drop hips slowly. Repeat 10x {if your leg on the floor starts to cramp, don’t lift hips too high}

Carmen’s butternut & chickpea salad:
Serves 3-4
If you want a healthier but different salad to add to your protein portion, this will be a great option.
You’ll need: 5ml ground coriander; 5ml paprika; 5ml dried origanum; 5ml ground cumin; ½ tsp curry powder; 45ml olive/ canola oil; ½ tsp salt; 30ml lemon juice; 45ml water; 500g butternut, peeled and cubed; black pepper to taste; 400g chickpeas, drained; spinach leaves or handfuls of lettuce leaves, roughly torn
How to:
Preheat oven to 180°C. Cook butternut on the stove in water for 15 minutes. Place spices, half the oil, salt, lemon juice and water in a large bowl. Add cooked butternut and mix well.
Season with black pepper and place in an oven dish. Roast for 30 minutes or until butternut is tender. Allow to cool. Stir in chickpeas.
Spoon onto spinach or lettuce and drizzle with remaining oil. Enjoy as a salad.
Serve with oven-baked or roasted fish, chicken or meat. Fill your plate with green veggies or a tomato salad. You can also add feta cheese to the salad.

Details: Follow her on Facebook, @Carmen Roberts Biokinetics and Instagram



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