Paradise for Sports Enthusiasts

by Elysian Magazine

Couples can get swept away for boot camp training on a Jamaica vacation

By Lee G. Healy
Photographs courtesy of Couples Resorts

It takes a special kind of motivation to pry vacation-goers away from the white sand beaches and clear blue waters of Jamaica for an intense round of leg kicks and squats, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s fitness guru and personal trainer Clyde Norris.

For more than 15 years, Norris has worked as a guest trainer at the popular Jamaican resort, Couples Swept Away, one of four resorts under Couples Resorts Jamaica. The complex is located on 19 acres of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach and advertises as a destination for sports enthusiasts — a draw that allows Norris to share his passion for working out with guests from around the world.

“It’s like a vacation intertwined with work, but you don’t really know it’s work,” said Norris, who described the destination as “paradise.” He typically works for a week at a time but has stayed for as long as a month.

Norris said he enjoys sharing his knowledge of fitness and nutrition abroad. After working as a trainer in Spartanburg, S.C., gyms, Norris opened his own location in 2000. The gym closed in 2012, the year after Norris was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He battled hard through rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, and, healthy again, opened another gym. It closed earlier this year, allowing Norris to focus his energy on home training and boot camps — and traveling to Jamaica.

With a 10-acre fitness complex—the largest in Jamaica—couples guests can enjoy tennis, squash and racquetball facilities, a fully equipped fitness center, an aerobics studio, lap pool, basketball court and outdoor running track. The resort also offers sea kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, and scuba. Lessons and training sessions are an included amenity, which is where Norris fits into the picture.

Resort guests can use a wide array of racquet and fitness facilities (top) or engage in more relaxing poolside activities (bottom).

He travels to the Jamaican resort three or four times each year to push vacationers through the personalized boot camp-style workouts he’s become notorious for in his hometown of Spartanburg. It allows guests to stay on program, even while away from home, Norris said.

“It’s been a learning experience,” Norris said. “I’ve brought back some things, and I’ve taken some things from my training style to the resort.”

Norris has been leading boot camps in the Spartanburg area since the ’90s. He enjoys helping people set and reach goals through workouts focused on personal bests and makes a point to get to know his clients, whether he’s worked out with them for years or is just meeting them for the first time.

“Clyde has a vast knowledge to offer when it comes to personal training and weight loss,” said Donovan Vassell, supervisor at Couples Swept Away. “Guests get a great workout, and they also get great advice … He’s a very easy-going person. He’s able to get what he wants from a client without being forceful. He has the exact personality for what he does.”

Vassell explained the resort regularly brings in guest trainers to work with guests. Doing so diversifies what Couples has to offer at any given time. Norris started working there in 2001, shortly after visiting with a boot camp group from Spartanburg.

Brett Coleman, owner of BJ Music and Boards in Spartanburg, went on that first trip and enjoyed the resort so much that he returned a few years later on his honeymoon. Coleman said the trip to Jamaica offered the best of both worlds, combining day-to-day fitness goals with sun and sand vacation opportunity.

“It’s fun to go on vacation to just go on vacation,” he said. “But it’s great to go on vacation and get some serious exercise in.”

Norris agreed.

“I’ve enjoyed working with people abroad and sharing my experience and knowledge toward fitness, but it’s also a vacation for me. I work, but I also playlike any other guest,” Norris said. “I’d like to continue the relationship (with couples) for a long time.”

A pool just off the beach at Couples Swept Away Resort features a swim-up bar.

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