Monday, 5 August 2013

JULIET'S HEART: On the verge of turning 50, Juliet Cuthbert keeps an open mind in life and love

BODY ELECTRIC: "What motivates me is just the passion for health and fitness."

As she turns over a new leaf in matters of the heart and moves to expand her fitness enterprise, the track legend and newlywed opens up about (finally) finding the man of her dreams and stepping fearlessly into her fifth decade feeling more fulfilled than ever. 

Seated behind her desk in the downstairs section of her tony West King's House Road fitness studio, Juliet Cuthbert is having a decidedly girly-girl moment, as she speaks for the first time about the latest wave of romance that has enveloped her life. With her vaguely supermodelish cheekbones and her short, closely cropped 'do, she exudes just the right hint of glamour to go with that stadium-bright grin. 

"I think I've found the man of my dreams finally," she insists, referring to her lucky Romeo (Red Stripe exec LeVaughn Flynn), whom she wed during an intimate and private ceremony in Hanover this past June. "After eight years, he's pretty much what I want in terms of the qualities in a person. We connected. We have a bond that I think is unbreakable." 

Growing up, you always heard couples confess that ubiquitous catchall "We were friends first." As it turns out, the iconic Olympian (at 49) and her hubby are the living proof. "I think you just know instinctively that this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. We mesh. I don't know how to explain it. We get along. We are great friends. So I'm happy at this point in my life." Spoken like a true lady. 

Neatly arranged across from us is a row of black-and-grey treadmills. But upstairs, where a group of late-morning clients are going through their paces, is where you find the real loot: a series of hefty weights of all sizes, stacks of body-sculpting equipment, and perhaps the most delightful discovery of all in the form of signed framed photographs depicting the likes of Merlene Ottey, Donovan Bailey and Asafa Powell adorning the walls. This is Cuthbert's domain, where she whips her charges (men and women) into shape. 

"What motivates me is just the passion for health and fitness," she tells me as we take a tour of the workout room, "having someone coming in here with a body mass index of over 30 and be able to get it down to a healthy 25 or less." It gets more fascinating. "Or seeing a 300-pound person and getting them down to 220 pounds, which is something I've done. For me, the reward comes from watching people lose weight, living healthier lifestyles, eating healthier, making healthier choices." 
Years-long observation has confirmed for many that Cuthbert, a daughter of St. Thomas, is the kind of star who wears her celebrity as lightly as her infectious, go-for-it appeal, which frequently emerges during her TV appearances to lend expert analysis on athletic events. 

Those who know her best say she packs boundless energy into that pint-sized frame. And she's terrific company for real talk, an engaging presence whether the topic considers her personal philosophy ("Whatever you're doing, do it well."), life at 49 ("I'm more mature. I've grown in lots of ways.") or her fits-and-starts journey with the fitness studio, which has been in operation for the past eight-and-a-half years. 

"It's been up and down. I've moved twice, so I've had to re-settle in. The economy now is not that great. There's an influx of gyms," Cuthbert explains. "You have to reinvent yourself. The great thing for me is that I've had a stable core group of people that have followed me everywhere I've gone. Right now, we're still growing. I have a passion for what I do." 

>> NEXT TIME: Cuthbert talks about her favourite things, turning 50 and what the future holds for her

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