“There is simply no excuse for not looking and feeling your best. There is great power in being fit. That is what I have lived by since I was age nine…you have a responsibility to yourself to always be at your best.”
By Kiana Wilburg
Well-known for her athleticism and supreme conditioning, Alisha Fortune never fails to bring the most
shredded physique to any competition or exhibition in which she participates. But such consistency obviously comes at a cost, and behind her success, is a well-planned and meticulously executed modus operandi.
It’s a plan she has been working on since the age of nine. And after so many years of riveting success, today, the 40-year-old decorated athlete can flirt with the notion that she has mastered the art of fitness. It’s an attribute that has seen her outlast, and in some cases outclass, many of her competitors. But even with all of her accomplishments, locally and regionally, she has never taken her successes for granted. She is always working on taking her “A-Game to the next level.”
And it is for this reason and more that she has been chosen to grace this publication’s Special Person column space.
FITNESS, HEALTH AND CHILDHOOD DAYS
While some may see the gym as a temporary avenue to looking good, the gym for Alisha Fortune is her second home. According to the fitness fanatic, she never has an off-season period. She is constantly in exercising mode and pushes herself to the extreme, working out almost every day.
And if you think that sounds drastic, then her diet would be the icing on the cake. The fitness trainer/ massage therapist said she stays away from all fatty foods and sweet treats. In fact, she is repulsed by fast foods. Fortune disclosed that she has for several years, maintained a lean and mean diet which would consist of little salt and no sugar. It’s the kind of routine she said she was being trained for and fell in love with since her childhood days.
Fortune intimated, “Growing up in Beterverwagting was really an exciting period of my life. I loved it because it is such a close-knit community. But I especially loved my childhood, because that is where I found my love for track and field. My siblings and I went to school, and sometimes we would get into a friendly race to see who would make it home first, and I would always beat them.”
The mother of three continued, “And it was from that young age that my father, Charles Fortune, saw my talent for being a good runner and decided that he would train me. So he essentially became my first coach. He had me run lots of laps around the community in preparation for inter-community sports too.”
“It was held by a man in the village called, ‘Mr. Bolton.’ I won all the track and field categories. Everyone in the community saw my potential and they all encouraged me to take part in national cross-country competition held by the Athletic Association of Guyana. And I did. There was no turning back then, because I fell in love with track and field from that point.”
FOR THE LOVE OF TRACK AND FIELD
Since her first inter-community sports competition, it was quite evident that Fortune had a promising future in the world of sports and with her supportive parents by her side, the multi-talented young woman would be running to the summit with relative ease.
She revealed that during her younger days, she was deemed to be an outstanding distance runner, walking away comfortably with trophies and medals in the 1500 and 3000-metre races.
But another talent was soon recognized by her trainer at the time, Dennis Smith.
“He saw that in my teenage years I was putting on a little weight, and I was struggling in the distance races, so when businesses such as Guyana Stores held sports competitions, he readily signed me up for the 100-metre and 200-metre races. And without any practice, I copped either the first or second position,” Fortune reflected.
She continued, “From then on, my coach decided to focus more on my ability to do the sprint races and I’ve been participating in so many local and regional events of that nature.”
Fortune said that for her 31 years in track and field, she has copped numerous awards of which she does not like to boast about. She emphasised that she is humbled by all that she has been able to accomplish as a female athlete, and is excited about the prospects for others who are preparing to take the mantle.
She fondly recalled in 2010, copping a gold medal after winning the women’s 200 metres Open in 24.33 seconds at the 36th Hampton International Games held in Trinidad and Tobago.
Last year, she represented Guyana at the North, Central American and Caribbean World Masters Athletics Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica. There, she competed in the 35-39 age categories in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre track events, securing the coveted gold in all three.
And then there’s the bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding is a subculture that involves bulging biceps, protruding veins and never-ending workouts. It requires grueling work to get to the desired physical structure and even more painful hours of training to maintain it.
Even though Fortune has often been referred to as “the iron lady” in the local bodybuilding arena, she has managed to retain her femininity. Her well pronounced, taut muscles and unbelievably ripped condition are no doubt envied by her competitors who would wish to achieve same. Fortune, of course achieves this without any need to truly flaunt the remarkable beauty of what her years of training has produced.
Her love for bodybuilding actually blossomed in 2007.
“Andrew Harris, a designer who migrated to USA, is like a nephew to me. And in 2007, he told me about this Hugh Ross Classic Bodybuilding competition, and he thought it would be a good idea for me to participate. I was shy. I didn’t like the idea at first, because I was thinking what my pastor will say if I am up there in a two-piece just modeling around. But it’s basically the same thing I wear to run in, so I decided to give it a shot in 2007, and I won it. Ever since that point, I’ve been winning that and other bodybuilding competitions locally.”
Apart from securing the top prizes at the biennial Hugh Ross Classic, Fortune has also competed in other competitions hosted by Flex Night Guyana Inc., and has always won in the ‘Miss Best Legs’ category.
To date, she is a five-time winner of the Hugh Ross Classic Series, an eight-time National Senior Champion, a three-time winner at Flex Night, and a CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Bronze Medalist at the 2012 Championships.
FAMILY LIFE AND ADVICE
Fortune says that life for her is always on the go and balancing family life has seen few challenges.
“I am grateful for the love and support of my family, especially my children, because I have been able to have a positive influence on their lives. They lead healthy lives and I am happy about that. My daughter Andrea is already trying her hand at the bodybuilding sport. She actually competed alongside me this year and she did well, and I know she will continue to grow,” expressed the Queen of the local bodybuilding stage.
Fortune says that she is always seeking an opportunity to encourage Guyanese, particularly women, to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“There is simply no excuse for not looking and feeling your best. There is great power in being fit. That is what I have lived by since I was age nine.”
“I am not saying that you need to be involved in what I do, like bodybuilding, but leading a healthy lifestyle has ripple effects on every other aspect of your life. I always encourage women to try and eat clean and exercise, even if it is for 15 minutes a day. I guarantee you it will have a positive impact on your life. Besides, you have a responsibility to yourself to always be at your best.”
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