Fitness diaries: My week of pain and gain in Jeddah

Fitness diaries: My week of pain and gain in Jeddah
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Trainer Mai Kholief put on a show for the class. (Photo courtesy: Rawan Radwan)
Fitness diaries: My week of pain and gain in Jeddah
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1) Najia Al-Fadl performing a pull-up exercise at Flagboxing gym. (Photo courtesy: Rawan Radwan)
Fitness diaries: My week of pain and gain in Jeddah
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Mai Kholief performs a box squat jump. (Photo courtesy: Rawan Radwan)
Updated 21 July 2017

Fitness diaries: My week of pain and gain in Jeddah

Fitness diaries: My week of pain and gain in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Women around the world are making a name for themselves in the health and fitness arena as sporting greats and pioneers. Despite this, the notion that women are not as strong as men is still pervasive in some areas.

As a hard-working mother of a 4-year-old, I am here to tell you that this is simply not true so I decided to push my limits and carried out a personal experiment to see just how far I could go in the world of fitness.

I volunteered to try four different types of intense workouts in seven days at specialized women-run studios across Jeddah to prove to myself, and others, that we women are stronger than we may think.

Day 1: BodyPump

To kick things off, I joined trainer Nouf Hamadallah in her private fitness studio, Nouf Fitness, early in the morning for a BodyPump class. It is an intense class for such an early hour and I came prepared.

It is a low-weight, high-repetition class and my trainer pushed hard, knowing full well that many off us fall off the wagon during the Eid and holiday period.

I watched my heart rate rise during the class and kept moving, buoyed by my excitement. That was my first mistake.

My excitement was an invitation for my coach to push harder, however, her positive feedback gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going. After an hour of following the routine, I burned 450-500 calories, got the recommended meal plan after my session and wore a wide smile on my face despite my sore muscles. I fueled up on the necessary proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables and got on with my day, happy in the knowledge I had cleared my workout session in the morning.

Book a session by contacting [email protected]

Day 2: High-end endurance indoor cycling

Lana Al-Subahi’s Cyclana cycling studio made me fall in love with indoor cycling. For first-timers, the seats can be uncomfortable but with all the music pumping and sweat dripping, I soon forgot about the discomfort and found myself focused on the task at hand. My heart rate started to shoot up fast after the warm up.

It's not about a class, it's not about a bike, it's about you! What is your passion, what is your purpose, what is your goal. What do you need, what is your motivation and inspiration, what are you riding for! Everybody comes for a different reason, some they come for a challenge and some they come for fun, find your reason and unlock your potential. You're more powerful than what you think. Come and find yourself and find your happy place, WE GOT YOU. #CYCLANA Photo Credit: Makeup by: @najlazainy_mua ------------------------------------------------- #FindYourself #IndoorCycling #Ride #Cycle #Spin #InstaCycle #BookYourRide #Health #Fitness #Cycling #StrongSaudiWomen #Jeddah #SaudiArabia #جدة #السعودية #سايكلانا

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After each routine, I increased the resistance on the cycle and pushed myself harder until I felt like I was cycling up a hill. The workout is made up of periods of high-intensity activity followed by a recovery period, a pattern that kept my heart rate up as per the class’s goals. My muscles were screaming but the instructor’s encouragement kept me going so my body could build endurance and strength. As per the trainer’s recommendation, I had a good protein and complex carbohydrate meal about two hours prior to the workout so my body could break down the food into glucose which was used for energy. I ended the session with a protein smoothie and was on my way.

Book a session by visiting or download the Cyclana app.

Day 3: CrossFit

CrossFit is a great high-intensity class geared toward pushing people’s limits with a rotation of activities.

I entered Mai Kholief’s MFit studio with a nagging concern that my legs would not be able to take the class as they were sore from my two days of intense cardio. I needed to push and push hard, lift heavier, go faster, try a new move and ace it. I was given a thorough rundown of the workouts that I would complete and Kholief pushed and encouraged each member of the class, not allowing anyone to move on without completing a set. With each kettlebell swing, I felt a pull on my hamstrings, with each burpee, my lungs were burning and with each pull-up, I felt stronger. I was focused and discovered I could perform movements I never thought I could complete. The class is for every shape and size, it is mind over matter. It was a tough class but with the right mindset, I burned more than 650 calories and it felt good!

Book a session by contacting [email protected]

Day 4: Calisthenics

Knowing that Flagboxing gym’s founder is Saudi kickboxing and boxing trainer Halah Al-Hamrani, I was very intimidated. She is a role model who turned the phrase “fight like a girl” into a form of praise.

Going into the session, I was nervous as I would be training with women who were focused and hardened. However, when I told Najia, a young trainer at the gym, of my fitness project, she welcomed it whole-heartedly and outlined the tasks I would be performing.

Calisthenics focuses on strengthening body fitness, endurance and flexibility by utilizing your own body weight for resistance. Do not be fooled, however, the movements may look easy but they can be excruciating. Calisthenics is a form of fitness which utilizes gravity and biomechanics. Each movement required a level of concentration to achieve its purpose and focused on a targeted set of muscles by isolating them.

Book a session by contacting [email protected]

Day 5: Walking and jogging

It was a sweltering 40 degrees Celsius outside but I completed a 58-minute routine made up of multiple sets of a four-minute fast walk followed by a two-and-a-half-minute jogging interval, followed by a 10-minute stretching and breathing session.

Day 6: Rest day

I took a well-deserved day of rest, with not a kettlebell or treadmill in sight.

Day 7: Walking and jogging

I probably should have taken a rest day since I was due to catch a flight that very evening but a walk was just what I needed to clear my head.

Pushing your body to perform longer and tougher workouts is just what some need to feel more confident in themselves. This intense week taught me that it is simply a case of mind over matter and there is nothing that women cannot perform, nothing they cannot try and nothing they cannot achieve with the right guidance.