@SCANPEAKS with James Allen
We first noticed James through a mutual social media friend and he graciously agreed to submit a “Cellfie” for Sickle Cell Awareness Month last year. James is a personal trainer, physique competitor and a model that is living well with sickle cell and has debunked the myth that individuals with sickle cell can’t perform high-intensity physical tasks as he does on a daily basis. SCAN caught up with James to find out more about his early life and what motivated him continue to defy the odds.
1. SCAN: How old were you when you realized that sickle cell was a serious issue and can you remember a particular crisis that stood out as a child?
JA: I actually never new I had the disease until the age of 19 when I was in the U.S. Marine Corps. I was just about to graduate and I was told that I couldn’t go on because blood tests showed that I have Sickle Cell Beta Thalassemia. I had no prior education about the disease growing up so when I was told that I had it, I took it very hard. I was told I couldn’t do a lot of things by people around me and I became a very angry person.
2. SCAN: How did sickle cell affect your life as a youngster? Did it stop you from participating in activities that other kids were taking part in?
JA: Sickle Cell didn’t affect me at all as a kid as I mentioned because I played high school football, played baseball in Jr. College and intermural softball. I had a regular childhood growing up. I suffered from epilepsy as a child but I didn’t have any seizures after the age of 12.
3. SCAN: When and how did you decide that you wanted to become a personal trainer and a bodybuilder?
JA: Oh man… They say breakups make bodybuilders so I think that was the case in my situation. I was coming out of a 7-year relationship and I decided to hit the gym. After 3 years in the gym, I seen my body transform and I fell in love with it. I give credit to Sherry Ringgold for introducing me to the sport when she encouraged me to enter into competitions in 2013.
I once competed during a sickle cell crisis! It’s not the smartest thing to do, but I was determined to get it done. I placed 8th in that competition by the way… As far as becoming a personal trainer, I loved being in the gym so they say if you turn your love into a career, then you wont work another day in your life. I had a “regular” job that ended and a friend of mine from the gym asked if I wanted to be a personal trainer, the rest is history.
4. SCAN: Your social media handle is James “GodSon” Allen. Can you explain why you chose that nickname and does faith play a role in how you deal with your condition?
JA: A lot of people think that the name came from the rapper Nas’ album title “God’s Son” but I literally feel that I am God’s son. I have a strong faith in God and he guides me in everything I do. I give all praise to him and my faith has pulled me through many tough times. I have brought several people to the Lord because of my personal relationship with him. When people see me, I want them to see God working through me.
5. SCAN: What kind of support system do you have around you to help you when you are going through a crisis?
JA: When I was in my last relationship, my ex really helped during those times. Right now I have a few friends that sit with me because it gets kind of lonely in the hospital. I don’t have a lot of family around so it’s not an ideal support system but it will do.
6. SCAN: What kind of advice would you give to someone who doesn’t wish to speak about his or her sickle cell condition?
JA: You gotta speak out! It’s not a handicap! We don’t get enough coverage like other conditions do. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge happened because people spoke out about their condition and did something about it. When I go to the hospital, the doctors and nurses can’t believe I have SCD. I’m supposed to look weak and frail but they see my body and how strong my veins are and they are shocked!
7. SCAN: What’s up next for James Allen? What is your future plans?
JA: Right now I’m working with a group of guys and we represent Mind Muscle Connection (MMC). http://mindmuscleconnection.org . The rational is that everything we do has a mind and body connection. We’ve launched a clothing line and we are doing great things in the community. I also have two shows coming up on June 20th and July 15th 2015 where there’s a chance I can attain my pro card.
8. SCAN: Nobody gets to where you are without the love and guidance from others. Are there some people you’d like to shout out?
First and foremost God. Special shout out to my sponsor @uvbronzetanning based out of Greencastle PA, Shane and Jimmy for their faith and support, Fitness Evolution in Sterling VA where I work and train, my brothers in the industry Janon Gray, Rob Kreider , my former coach and friend Stephen Smith , IFBB pro Duan Brickhouse and Brian Epstein, and funny as it sounds Mr. O Phil Heath for a talk he
had with me after a show last season kept me from giving up, my coach Terry Packard and Team Fidelis. Oh and feel free to hit me up on my social networks (Instagram) procardchasing and (Facebook) James Godson Allen.
9. SCAN: If you could only shout one word or phrase from your balcony every morning, what would it be?
That’s simple; I’d say GET SOME! This is what we used to say in the Marines. If there is something you want to achieve in life, you have to go out and get it. Nobody is going to give it to you. Go and get you some!
James1 Photo Credit: darqueroomimages.com
James2 Photo Credit: John Andrada johnpaulillustrated.com
James3 Photo Credit: voxefex.com