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Fittest Female Trainer Unleashes her inner Wolf
Our Experts

Fittest Female Trainer Unleashes her inner Wolf

posted by FitnessFirst Team October 16, 2016 0 comments

She is the WOLF leading the pack, she reflects positively on the group with her energy, power and strength with no compromise whereby the group benefits, moreover she gains just as much from the group as the group benefits from her: the group as a whole makes her stronger!

This is what happens with Fiona MacDonald, the she-wolf, in her group exercise classes. She leads with her energy and will, motivating the class to work harder and with them she becomes stronger and the class benefits as a whole! There is no stopping, no giving in, the whole group works together to reach their goals just like the wolf pack.

quotes-unleashFitness First Fiona MacDonald is one of our highly energetic group exercise instructors who conducts numerous high intensity group exercise classes like Cycling, Circuit Training and our well renowned signature program, TUFF which is the toughest and most challenging class of them all.

TUFF facts that most members would not know

Fiona MacDonlad was crowned the “Fittest Female Trainer in the UAE” last month, competing against 100 top fitness professionals showing immense endurance, strength and stamina and surviving till the end!

This brings up the question, where did Fiona get all her strength and will power to endure such grueling exercises and not stop or give in?

How did Fiona “Unleash” herself and win the fittest female trainer?

We believe the answer lies in group exercise and team based training which give her the strength and power to keep going till the end and not give up! The power of being part of a group makes her stronger and hence come the benefits attending group exercise classes on a regular basis and team/buddy based workouts.

Working Out in a Group Is More Fun

According to Fiona she enjoys her TUFF classes and goes on to say, “the challenge itself was not easy but it was the kind of thing I enjoy, if enjoy is the right word. I do a lot of functional training and also enjoy attending TUFF classes which involves a mixture of 3 dimensional body weight and bar bell moves.

She also gets her endurance and determination to keep going from her participation in triathlons and from her background in long distance running.

She goes on to say, “I also enjoy participating in triathlons. The training for this is quite time consuming so when I’m not participating in or teaching TUFF you can usually find me in one of the pools, out on my bike or running the roads. Even in the Dubai heat.”

“My background is in long distance running which I think came to my advantage in this challenge as the final determination round was about not stopping and not giving in.”

It is our mission at Fitness First through our fitness experts and group exercise to provide sound training and mindset advice to motivate and enable YOU to Unleash Yourself too!


UNLEASH YOURSELF encourages you to take a walk on the wild side and reveal the animal in you when you are working out! No matter what your level of fitness or what your preferred training style is, we want you to #UnleashYourself to become the best version of YOU to reach your full potential in fitness, and in life!

Click here to download a FREE Group Exercise Training Plan, join our group exercise classes or train with a buddy and Unleash the WOLF in YOU!


Our Experts

Age Versus Output: A Life Lesson Everyone Can Master

posted by Steven Gillespie September 15, 2016 0 comments

Close your eyes.

No, seriously you need to close your eyes to read this part of my blog.

You can’t continue reading without closing your eyes can you?

Ok, so let’s multi-task for now and think whilst we read.

I want you to think for a few minutes and have a look at yourself in the 3rd person.  What I want you to do is to zoom out of your body and look at yourself from up high in your mind, probably 3 feet up and slightly to the right or left looking back down at yourself. Now from there I want you to rewind through your life backwards in time past your ups and your downs, your teens and your adolescent years and have a think to yourself: what if I could start again?

I am sure you have asked yourself this question many times over and perhaps more often at points in your life when you have felt down, when things haven’t went exactly to plan or perhaps when you simply weren’t happy with your current state of affairs.  It’s an exciting prospect to think what we could do if we had a DeLorean and could go back to November 12th, 1985; or any other significant turning point in our lives for that matter.  Ultimately these thoughts are usually flights of fancy and we continue on with our current trend…

…This time however is the time that I want it to really mean something.

Now, hear me out people as I may start to sound too philosophical, unrealistic or naive; however let’s imagine the earliest point of your minds recollection and think to yourself, since as far back as I can remember, what if…

I ate the perfect balance of macro nutrients and quality of foods daily without eating anything harmful or detrimental to my optimal body composition.
I physically trained my body religiously as hard as possible within safe realms, I warmed up and cooled down and generally looked after myself, always aiming to be stronger, fitter and better than my previous state.
I didn’t go out on those pointless nights out and wasted all of my money on sugary drinks and bad food in favor of preserving my physical and mental health.

Now, what I would like you to do is to close your eyes again (or write and think again) and take a look at a different you who maintained the three lifestyle choices mentioned above since the beginning of your minds recollection.

How do you look?

I am sure you are pleased with the results.

What are you doing?

I’m sure you are smiling and seem confident.

How much can you bench press?

My goodness I can bench 200 kg for reps! It all sounds great you might say, however if you are like me and are somewhat pessimistic at times you might become upset at some of these obvious contrasts in this visualization technique.  OK, you have been in better shape before, you used to lift more weight and you used to have a six pack. You might say “I don’t now and it will take me ages to get back to that level.” If you do think like that initially this is fine and natural, however have a think again and what I recommend you do is to use this mindset as your fuel to make a positive change for yourself moving forward.

My other self would have been squatting 300 kg by this age if I had kept up my regime, perhaps I should start that up again as it made me feel great 
By 40 years old I would have been way more successful in life had I not wasted all my time lazing around, rather I could have invented something or wrote a book that would have made me residual income like Harry Potter?

Wake up.  Please guys I urge you to wake up.  Some of us are way behind the curve and must realize that if you put the effort in now you can change your life and you can become a better version of what you are currently, and in any way that you deem better than before.  It doesn’t have to be a societal norm that you have to conform to or a pressure from someone else to make a change, it has to come from within you. You don’t have to instantly follow in the footsteps of a fitness cover model either.  Things can happen slowly or quickly it’s up to you, however if you do progressively improve your lifestyle behaviors and build upon them incrementally then you will see traction in your health, fitness and overall well being.

– Add a healthy breakfast into your routine for 10 days and see the pounds come off with that alone.

– Drink 8 small glasses of water a day for 10 days and observe how clear your skin can become.

– Progress to one exercise session a week if you can’t add more into your schedule.

– Think about not going out as much per week for food and drinks; instead maybe one night out a month will suffice.

Don’t leave it another 5 or 10 years before something happens to your health, fitness or general success that makes you regret it or forces you to start when it might be too late.

Simply put, if you could look at a trend graph of your life’s progression from birth to now that measured your outputs in flexibility, strength, endurance, body confidence, bank balance, charitable expenditure, innovations and happiness: would you be happy with your graph for your current age?

If not, then it’s time to get cracking!

5 CORE exercises to build your engine - A Beginner's Guide!
Our Experts

5 CORE exercises to build your engine

posted by FitnessFirst Team March 14, 2016 0 comments

As athletes attend their training sessions they often neglect the core and stretch sessions…here’s why the core sessions are equally if not MORE important than a regular training session.  Core muscles are vital and they don’t always get worked enough with just regular training sessions.

Think of your core muscles – the chest, back, abs, and obliques – as the link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. No matter what your movement, the motions either start from your core, or is transferred through it.

Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Good posture trims your silhouette and projects confidence. More importantly, it lessens wear and tear on the spine and allows you to breathe deeply.

No matter what movements you do or where the movement starts, your arms and legs all stem from the core, the strength in your limbs are intimately tied to the strength in your torso. Having a strong core sets a solid foundation for strength in the rest of the body the power is transferred upward and downward to adjoining parts of the body. For example when running, core strength allows the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly, with less rocking & thus, less excess energy expended.  A strongly built-up core will considerably increase the power, posture & speed.

Core strength for endurance athletes is especially important! Towards the end of long training sessions or races, when you are extremely fatigued, your form begins to suffer if the core has not been trained – it is a fantastic feeling when running to know the core engages and is enabling you to stay strong. Poor form not only slows you down, it also opens you up to potential injuries.

While it’s important to build a strong core, the program must be structured to involve all muscles, over training only abdominal muscles and neglecting muscles of the back and hip can set you up for injuries.

5 CORE exercises to build your engine:

You can use your body weight or the Bosu for a harder option.

1. V-Sit
5 CORE exercises to build your engine

2. Plank
5 CORE exercises to build your engine

3. Bicycle Abs
5 CORE exercises to build your engine

4. Mountain Climbers
5 CORE exercises to build your engine

5. Roll Outs
5 CORE exercises to build your engine

Your arms and legs are the wheels of your body (vehicle), without a strong core (engine) you will never go faster, hit your top speed and achieve your best performance!

Lisa Hancox
National Swimming and Programming Manager
Fitness First MENA

Our Experts

Bothered much about New Year’s resolutions?

posted by FitnessFirst Team January 5, 2016 0 comments

Oops… did it again! Yup, you made that New Year’s ‘resolution’ to hit your fitness target this year. Same one you made last year…..and the year before that. Or perhaps you’ve decided to call it quits in 2016. Heck, you are never going to reach that ‘target’ anyways. So why even bother?

I’ll tell you why bother! You continue to bother because you are bothered. And if that is not reason enough……read on.

You bother because it is something you’ve always wanted and no matter how much you try to bury it deep in the abyss of your mind, it keeps resurfacing.

You bother because you might not like what you see in the mirror and you know in your heart that if you just focused a little bit more, committed a little more time, tried a little bit harder…..if you just did……you would get there.

You bother because last night you saw your holiday pictures on Facebook and Instagram, and you compared them with the previous years and truth is you look way older than your sister. Who is 5 years older than you!

You bother because the doctor put the word ‘risk’ and ‘your health’ in the same sentence, and that gave you goose bumps…..and not the good kind. And you think of your loved ones who’ve mentioned to you about health risks in passing, and now you know, it’s time to make a change.

You bother because you have met amazing people and made wonderful friendships at the gym you train at. And even though you haven’t hit your target yet, you remember James or Sally who have you the same struggles as you. And the thought of sharing that coffee after a fun and spirited group class… you hope for tomorrow.

Bothered much about New Year's resolutions-fitness friends

You bother because you met up with this trainer that is passionate about your progress. She knows your struggles and understands them because at one point she was very unhealthy and unfit too. And you know that for a fact because you’ve seen the pictures! So maybe you’ll try something different this time. Maybe you’ll train with a professional.

You bother because aside from targets, you realize that you’ve actually grown to love working out. Music playing in your ears, sweat dripping down your brow, the feel of metal in your hand, muscles burning with every repetition, your heart racing to the tempo, adrenaline rushing in your veins yup, it hurts, and yes you’ll do it all over again tomorrow.

Okay….I could sit here and pretend to know your reasons for wanting to get fit, or your struggles for wanting to quit. I don’t. All I know is that we all have struggles in life and in fitness. Even for those who seem to have “achieved” their body targets; if they were to speak honestly they would admit that it is a constant battle every single day. It is painful, it requires sacrifice, it needs consistency and in most cases progress takes time. So hey…….if you ask me, I’d say ditch the resolution and just go with it. Perhaps with that pressure gone…………!

Betty Ndolo
Personal Trainer 
Fitness First, Abu-Dhabi Mall

Our Experts

Steven Gillespie Workout Finishers

posted by FitnessFirst Team November 25, 2014 0 comments

Finish Fat Forever

Having spent over 11 years in the personal training industry I have seen my fair share of training clients who all have varying levels of motivation and adherence to their fat-loss goals.  I have however observed a strange common denominator with them all, which is that once they complete a given workout they all have that little bit of energy left in the tank; some have denied this stored energy but similar to a wounded tiger being at its deadliest when on its last legs, people have a strange ability to perform at their very hardest when they know that they are on the last part of the routine.  At the end of a workout some people proudly strut around victoriously, whereas some people will sit quietly satisfied with the fact that they managed the session entirely.  Both scenarios bode well with me, as I never want my clients to feel over-encumbered with my workouts and I want them to feel a sense of achievement, however I have facilitated fantastic fat loss results for them by throwing in a really tough metabolic-finisher to cap off the workout.

The purpose of the finisher is essentially a ‘double-check’ that you have emptied all of the tanks, to raise post workout metabolism and to ensure that the workout hasn’t been in vain for the goal of fat loss.  When I am contemplating a workout-finisher scenario my thought process is to consider the energy systems at play, simply put once glycogen (stored Carbohydrate) is depleted this is the perfect opportunity to more effectively utilize the next available substrate which is stored fat; this can be done very well via a 3 – 5 minute anaerobic ‘bolt-on’ otherwise known as a ‘finisher’.  On the other hand if the workout itself is very demanding and you are sufficiently depleted or think yourself a novice then I would consider a finisher to be surplus to requirements. Sadly however, many people who have plenty of energy left in the tanks finish their workout without taking full advantage of this window of fat burning opportunity, this is where I would strongly advocate for relatively experienced exercisers (not for absolute beginners) to finish the session off with one of the following workout finishers.

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