Get Fit The Professional Way
In today’s day and age it has become essential to take care of one’s health, fitness, food, diet and overall well-being. Obesity is running rife within our communities causing serious illnesses such as heart disease, high-blood pressure, diabetes and breathing problems. This is why Fit Gym and Spa owner and trainer Abdulla Al Shawi has taken a huge step forward to try and control this issue. By combining his love for the gym with dedication, he came up with the ultimate fitness institution that caters to the needs of every single person who walks through the doors.
Starting from the age of 16, Al Shawi enjoyed going to the gym regularly to work on his fitness. Initially going to stand alone gymnasiums in Bahrain as a hobby, he found the form of exercise different and became more involved when he travelled to university in Beirut, Lebanon. In Lebanon, he says, he was even more encouraged to pursue his passion for fitness since back then, in the early 2000s, it was a booming industry. Since he had been working out since his high school days, exercising when he got a little bit older was almost like catching up to what he had been doing before and then excelling further. As a Business Management student, Al Shawi says, he hadn’t even thought about opening a gym at the time and was purely just carrying on with his hobby of keeping fit.
It wasn’t until he returned from Lebanon, and after 3-4 years working in the banking industry in Bahrain, that Al Shawi got a chance to finally embark on the path towards turning his passion into a career. He says the inspiration to pursue a career in fitness came from his mother – a popular businesswoman in Bahrain – when he was asked to assist her to set up her floral industry inspired business – flowers, events and chocolates. Watching her work really hard towards something that she liked pushed Al Shawi to not only develop his own brand but also to do a course in UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) which was an entrepreneurship program that guided him and provided him with the right tools.
He proved to them that he had a solid idea and that he was serious about pursuing it and they pushed him in the right direction that lead him to starting his own brand. He says he visited all the gyms in Bahrain to see what they were like before opening his own. At the time, Fitness First gym was the only one that was considered to be a serious competitor and so he quickly entered the market. Now the UNIDO Entrepreneur Of The Year Award-winner not only has a successful gym business but is also nominated for another entrepreneurial prize. Drive, he says, is one of the most important factors to get anywhere in life, “if you really want to do it, you do it.”
Situated in the Riviera Palace in South Sehla, Fit Gym and Spa opened in October 2011, and since then Al Shawi has garnered a loyal customer base through his state-of-the-art equipment, well-trained and experienced trainers and extensive programs. Members are also offered free classes For example, for women, there are classes like Zumba, CardioPumo, AeroSteps, Combat, AbsAttack and so much more. There is a wide range of equipment for cardio; a section for weights that can help build, tone, burn fat, condition and more; there is a spa which has all the necessary amenities such as a sauna, massage room and availability for sport-therapy massage, deep-tissue massage and Thai massage. The Fit Station offers its members with a kitchenette, blenders and ice; the pool which is situated outdoor, can be used for training, or for parents who want to use the gym and would like their kids to play in the pool (of course with a trainer present) especially in the summer. A separate ladies section is also fully equipped and has a prayer room, protein bars that can be bought at the gym, unlimited WiFi and special deals on the Riviera Palace’s restaurant and rooms. The hotel also launched the restaurant called SixPack soon after the gym was launched which has a healthy menu consisting of low-fat and “clean”, diet food ranging from sandwiches to ice creams and is also located right next to the gym.
Al Shawi’s success speaks volumes of his hard work and dedication to making Fit Gym and Spa more than just a gym but a wholesome experience. Not only that, Fit Gym and Spa was the sponsor of the biggest bodybuilding event of world which was hosted in Bahrain in 2013. The event, which is the “Mr. Olympia Award”, takes place twice a year and is divided into two sections: The Amateur Olympia and The Professional Olympia. The Professional show takes place only in Las Vegas in the United States in September every year, the Amateur one – which was a follow up, that started in 2011 – is kind of used as a qualifier for the Professional but also is a very strong competition. Some competitors even need to clear a few Amateur shows (which take place worldwide) to be able to get to the Professional competition. “Being there is a privilege,” says Al Shawi as it is one of the biggest fitness events. Bahrain hosted the Amateur sector of the event and Fit Gym and Spa played host to reigning Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath, who flew in from the United States to train and sit with the members and the trainers, and also do a “Meet and Greet” in Seef Mall. Al Shawi dubs him the “Arnold of nowadays”.
Bahraini professional athletes are also fans of Fit Gym and Spa with Sheikh Abdulla Bin Rashid Al Khalifa, President of the Asian Bodybuilding federation and Vice President of the International Bodybuilding Federation is training there as well.
“Fitter. Healthier. Stronger.” is the Fit Gym and Spa motto and mantra that gym-owner Abdulla Al Shawi lives by. He makes sure his gym schedule remains unhinged as he gets in a work out every day. A typical day for Al Shawi would be an early start at the gym to make sure the day-to-day operations are running smoothly, followed by breakfast on site and usually a training session in mid-afternoon because he says, ‘testosterone levels are at their highest at that time and you can gain the most out of a workout’.
Along with a good workout, one of the important factors to take into consideration is one’s food intake. It is important to make sure proper nutrients are being consumed and a well balanced meal-plan is being followed while working out, otherwise whatever is done at the gym can potentially go to waste.
Other important factors to consider are sleep and rest. Sleep, he says, will help your muscles recover whereas food help repair and grow your muscles.
“As long as you stick to a healthy and basic lifestyle, you will look good and your body will perform how you want it to”, says Al Shawi and his motivation comes from his strong will and keeping fitness as his priority. He says if you really truly want something you will make time for it. Seeing results after workouts, he says, is also another motivating factor, not just for him but for his members as well. Working out initially results in sore muscles and an aching body that might discourage a first-time gym user but Al Shawi explains that this only happens because the muscles are in a state of shock as it’s the first time the muscles are being used in that manner, however, there are certain techniques and methods that are used at the gym in order to not dispirit the members right from the get-go. He says it is tough in the beginning and people confuse that and believe that’s how it will always be but after 3-4 days – especially after the first time – the muscles cool down and start to come back to normal and that’s when one should hit the gym again and keep going. With newcomers, he says, they always take things slow and work with them step by step, even sitting down with them and explaining how things will work.
When asked about the use of alternative methods to gain muscle easily, Al Shawi says he condemns the use of steroids as they practice and promote clean training methods at the gym. Steroids are a means of only temporary gain and once the effect wears off, the user will also start to lose the progress made as well as deteriorating health and disrupting the testosterone levels within the body. Even with the use of protein shakes, they promote relying on natural foods and lessen the use of protein shakes if necessary. The use of steroids at his gym, he says, is unacceptable and intolerable. However, herbal medicine, he says can be used if the body really needs it. For the youths it is not important especially if they provide themselves with the nutrients and right kind of care from an early age and that will help them greatly in the future. Talking about the gym and health industry as a whole, Al Shawi says that paying for a gym membership, is an investment in one’s health. Investing time and care during the younger years can prevent body issues internally and externally later on in life and rather than paying hundreds and thousands later on, some investment on health made early on can possibly prevent those issues, after all, prevention is better than cure.
Not just for bodybuilding, the gym is for everyone – 16 years and above – who want to get fit in terms of lifestyle, leisure or want to tone up their bodies and through different classes, carefully crafted training sessions and a variety of top class equipment help achieve that. The gym encourages people to work out and lead a healthy lifestyle that fits in their schedule.
In terms of expansion of the Fit Gym and Spa brand, Al Shawi says in Bahrain one branch is enough as the market is already saturated but growing the existing branch is in the pipeline. He also has proposals to open the gym in neighbouring countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE (Abu Dhabi).
Address: Riviera Palace, Sheikh Salman Avenue, South Sehla, Bahrain
Saturday to Wednesay: 5am-11pm
Open during most public holidays.
Call for specific opening time inquiries.
For more information on the gym:
(00973) 7701 7711
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