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National Fitness Centre
Crafted by
Power And Passion
Anything which has consumed a man’s president until the ‘80s. “I’d had enough,
focus for over 40 years could easily be and thought people had had enough of me
described as an obsession. But in the as well,” he says, evidencing his unassuming
case of Wesley Barrow’s obsession with manner and dedication to high standards.
fitness, there have been nothing but The interview is interrupted sporadically as
results. members come and go. Most don’t leave the
building without saying goodbye, or stopping
e’s been mad about muscles since to chat. One member insisted he’d be waiting
he was a child; a very slim child, “whenever you’re done”.
mind you. Size didn’t matter when it came to Barrow always dreamed of a National
devoting his energy into not only ensuring he Fitness Centre. During the earlier years, he also
became physically fit, but providing an avenue worked at LIAT, but gave that up about a year
for the rest of the nation to do so as well. after he found a permanent home for the gym.
Figure Control and Fitness Centre sprung He’s now familiar with the usual fluxes around
up in his backyard in Gambles Terrace around Carnival and January 1, but has managed to
1967, then moved upstairs the BWIA office steadily grow the regular membership as well.
on Long Street, before settling in Campsite Barrow is a familiar sight at 4:45 am
roughly 18 years ago. when early risers start their day with a good
“Mr Barrow,” as everyone calls him, won’t sweat. He’s also behind the counter when
say just how young he was when he hoisted his office workers take their stress out on the
first barbell, but admits, “I’ve always liked to machines after 6 pm. While he does go home
see well developed bodies, so as soon as it was somewhere in between, the routine has been
possible for me to get involved, I started.” taking its toll, he admits. The sacrifice has
Back then, his inspiration came largely been time to keep his own body in tune.
from Walter Etinoff, who Barrow still speaks of He’s quick to admit that he still enjoys
with the admiration little boys reserve for their what he’s doing, and can’t help but mention
favourite superhero. Etinoff was a former Mr plans for even further expansion of the seedling
Antigua in the 40’s, which could have inspired he’s seen spread into a palm tree.
Barrow to revive the annual competition in He’s hinting at retirement this year, and
the 60’s. He and other fitness buffs started the passing the mantle to his sons, who’ve basically
local association in 1965, and Barrow served as grown up alongside the gym. “It’s not always
that you find your offspring will share the same
passion as you do, but I’d like to see it go on,
and not only go on, but get even better, so I’m
hoping they can do a good job with it,” he says.
Barrow is known as a stickler for
aesthetics and cleanliness, and still insists that
b gym members bring along an extra pair of
shoes. He also stays abreast of changes in the
industry, and was the first to introduce spin
classes to Antigua. He’s constantly adding to
the collection of equipment lining the walls
upstairs, and admits it would be difficult to
find space for another piece.
With all this love for the sport, has Mr
Barrow ever actually competed? The answer is
yes, though he admits he wasn’t fully prepared
when he entered a Masters Competition one
year as a show of support.
He still attends the competitions annually,
and is constantly helping to shape future
generations of diehard fitness enthusiasts. BF
52 | BusinessFocus • August/September 2008
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