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Health & Nutrition

How Exercise Can Help You Fight Diabetes

posted by FitnessFirst Team November 28, 2016 0 comments

Exercise improves diabetes management and delays the onset of type 2 diabetes. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or if you are at risk of diabetes, making exercise a part of your lifestyle will improve your diabetes and reduce complications.

Activity fights diabetes in a number of ways. Raising your heart rate — whether by walking, jogging, cycling or swimming — helps your body use insulin more effectively. Exercise also improves blood circulation to all organs, especially the kidneys, brain, heart and eyes, which can be injured by poor diabetes management. Additionally, adults who exercise reap the benefits of stress reduction, decreased LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and weight control. Exercising when you have diabetes also lowers blood sugar and improves protein and fat metabolism, slowing organ damage.

Smart Fueling for Activity

Your new exercise program may lower your blood sugars, and, in turn, your health care provider may adjust your diabetes medication. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you adjust your meal plan so you have the fuel your body needs.

healthy foodThese guidelines will fuel you for peak performance.

Before Exercise

A small whole-grain or carbohydrate snack with some protein provides enduring energy for your activity. You’ll need about 150 to 200 calories, as found in 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1/2 cup fat-free milk, or a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter.

During Exercise

If you’re exercising for more than an hour, you may need additional carbohydrates (such as eight ounces of a sport beverage, half a banana or a handful of raisins) during activity to prevent low blood sugar.

After Exercise

If you plan to exercise for more than an hour, refuel with a post-workout snack, like six ounces of fat-free yogurt and a small apple.

4-Easy-Diet-Switches-to- Drop-Sugar-for- Good


Before, during and after exercising, stay hydrated by drinking water. Drink eight ounces of water before exercise, and continue drinking water so that you have clear urine within two hours of completing your activity. If urine is dark colored, keep drinking water until it is clear.

Whether starting your first exercise program or training for an endurance event — like a marathon or triathlon — increase your training slowly, check your blood sugars and fuel and hydrate before, during and after exercising. Your goal is to be in the blood glucose range that your health care provider recommends. As your fitness improves, you will reap greater health benefits.

Banin Shahin
National Wellness Manager
Fitness First Middle East

Health & Nutrition

Grow Mo’ awareness for Men’s Health this November

posted by Adam McCubbin November 7, 2016 1 Comment

It’s that time a year when the moustache population expands worldwide in an effort to raise awareness for men’s health, in particular for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. This phenomenon, known as Movember, started in 2004 in Australia and New Zealand, has now become a global cause that aims to change the face of men’s health by encouraging men to grow a moustache whilst raising money and awareness.

In past generations, men’s emotions and health were not talked about subjects, for fear of not maintaining a “manly” image or for being seen as a “weakness”. This has been dramatically improved over the last couple of decades by charities and a growing awareness that speaking up and being proactive, is an effective way of dealing with health issues rather than sweeping them under the rug. Showing character and taking a stand for health issues bigger than yourself, are signs of strength and community that should be encouraged by everyone.

You might have heard it all before when it comes to men’s health, but remember “repetition is the mother of all skill.” The more you read something, there is a greater shift in your consciousness and you will take actions without even realising. With this in mind: read, re-read, share and teach others for best results.

There are four pillars for men’s health that must be considered and they are physical activity, sleep, nutrition and mental health. All of them are interlinked and equally important for long-term health and disease prevention. If you think that you can get away with neglecting one area, then think again, because there are countless studies showing the importance of each of the above mentioned pillars.

Physical Activity

Being physically active on a daily basis has a whole myriad of benefits not only on the body itself, but also for mental state and cognitive function. If you’re someone who struggles to enjoy being active then try linking something you’re interested in or passionate about to physical activity. Trust me when I say everything can be improved when you’re physically active. Seemingly unrelated interests such as playing a musical instrument, business or career aspirations or learning a language, can all be improved by taking care of your fitness and physical activity levels. It’s just a matter of anchoring and developing momentum for success. Studies have shown that being physically active significantly reduces the risks of prostate cancer. 1, 2 In older men specifically, 3 hours of vigorous physical activity per week was associated with a dramatic 70% reduction in the risk of dying of prostate cancers. 3


Studies have shown that being physically active significantly reduces the risks of prostate cancer


The old school train of thought by men was that sleep is not important, it gets in the way of work and needs to be kept at a minimum otherwise you are being lazy. Don’t get me wrong, you are not required to sleep all day, however there are numerous health and cognitive benefits for achieving the right amount of good quality sleep. Research has indicated that 7 hours is recommended for people to have optimal levels of cognitive function and increased productivity. 4 Lack of sleep can also increase the chance of depression, weight gain, diabetes and other cardio disease risk factors. 5-7


The food you put into your body has the ability to make or break your health! If you drive a Ferrari or some type of sports car that requires a lot of financial outlay, chances are you will be inclined look after it and use premium grade petrol. However men don’t often equate what types of foods they put in their mouth for better performance and don’t think of the consequences. Your body is a highly tuned machine, just like a sports car. Diets high in processed foods with little fresh fruits and vegetables are linked to increased risks of prostate cancer and poor mental health. 8-10 Inadequate levels of Vitamin D, selenium and zinc have impact on male sex hormones and increase risks of diseases. 11-13


Mental Health

Speaking up, sharing your thoughts with others and letting loved ones know when you’re going through a tough time is something that MUST be encouraged of all men. In recent times, meditation and mindfulness practices have also been indicated to improve mental health, cognitive function and reduced rates of depression. 14, 15 Taking care of the three pillars above will make a positive impact on mental health, however there are often outside life situations that cause huge strain on mental health, that need to be addressed by professionals.


In summary, grow a mo’, speak up, get moving, sleep well and eat fresh foods for men’s health!

To support Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in November, Fitness First will be hosting “Men’s Open Weekend Every Weekend” at all our Fitness First clubs. Find out more and register here for UAE or visit www.fitnessfirstme.com for country specific details.



  1. A. W. Hsing, J. K. McLaughlin, W. Zheng, Y.-T. Gao and W. J. Blot, Cancer Causes & Control, 1994, 5, 136-140.
  2. T. J. Hartman, D. Albanes, M. Rautalahti, J. A. Tangrea, J. Virtamo, R. Stolzenberg and P. R. Taylor, Cancer Causes & Control, 1998, 9, 11-18.
  3. E. Giovannucci, Y. Liu, E. A. Platz, M. J. Stampfer and W. C. Willett, International Journal of cancer, 2007, 121, 1571-1578.
  4. D. A. Sternberg, K. Ballard, J. L. Hardy, B. Katz, P. M. Doraiswamy and M. Scanlon, Frontiers in human neuroscience, 2013, 7, 292.
  5. C. A. Perlman, S. L. Johnson and T. A. Mellman, Bipolar disorders, 2006, 8, 271-274.
  6. M. H. Hall, M. F. Muldoon, J. R. Jennings, D. J. Buysse, J. D. Flory and S. B. Manuck, SLEEP-NEW YORK THEN WESTCHESTER-, 2008, 31, 635.
  7. J. E. Gangwisch, S. B. Heymsfield, B. Boden-Albala, R. M. Buijs, F. Kreier, T. G. Pickering, A. G. Rundle, G. K. Zammit and D. Malaspina, hypertension, 2006, 47, 833-839.
  8. M. F. Leitzmann, M. J. Stampfer, D. S. Michaud, K. Augustsson, G. C. Colditz, W. C. Willett and E. L. Giovannucci, The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2004, 80, 204-216.
  9. N. Allen, T. Key, P. Appleby, R. Travis, A. Roddam, A. Tjønneland, N. Johnsen, K. Overvad, J. Linseisen and S. Rohrmann, British journal of cancer, 2008, 98, 1574-1581.
  10. A. Sánchez-Villegas, E. Toledo, J. de Irala, M. Ruiz-Canela, J. Pla-Vidal and M. A. Martínez-González, Public health nutrition, 2012, 15, 424-432.
  11. S. Pilz, S. Frisch, H. Koertke, J. Kuhn, J. Dreier, B. Obermayer-Pietsch, E. Wehr and A. Zittermann, Hormone and Metabolic Research, 2011, 43, 223-225.
  12. N. Oldereid, Y. Thomassen and K. Purvis, Human Reproduction, 1998, 13, 2172-2176.
  13. A. S. Prasad, C. S. Mantzoros, F. W. Beck, J. W. Hess and G. J. Brewer, Nutrition, 1996, 12, 344-348.
  14. B. K. Hölzel, J. Carmody, M. Vangel, C. Congleton, S. M. Yerramsetti, T. Gard and S. W. Lazar, Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011, 191, 36-43.
  15. W. Ramel, P. R. Goldin, P. E. Carmona and J. R. McQuaid, Cognitive therapy and research, 2004, 28, 433-455.
Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis
Health & Nutrition

3 Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis

posted by FitnessFirst Team October 31, 2016 0 comments

Bone health is important to overall health and quality of life. It provides a frame that permits mobility and protects the internal organs from injury, while being a storage for minerals vital to the self-sustaining functions of daily life. However, Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease that is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the structure of bone tissue (trabecular tissue) which leads to risk of fracture and increased bone fragility. It is most common to women (postmenopausal osteoporosis) that can often be prevented. However, if undetected, it can progress for many years without symptoms until a fracture occurs.

Here are ways that we can prevent it:

Diet and Supplements

Calcium intake is the mainstay of Osteoporosis prevention and treatment. Vitamin D supplementation and Sun exposure may contribute as well. Daily intake of Vitamin D facilitates absorption and mineralization of the bone. It is also found in liver, fatty fish, egg yolks, milk and orange juice.

The recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D for adults are as follows:

1. For pre-menopausal women 25-50 years old and post-menopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy, 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day with 400 i.u. of Vitamin D. 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

2. For postmenopausal women less than age 65 not on estrogen replacement therapy, 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended along with 400-800 i.u. of Vitamin D.

3. For men ages 25-65, 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended.

4. For all people (women and men) over age 65, 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day.

Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis

Healthy Lifestyle

Live a healthy lifestyle with moderate Alcohol Consumption and no smoking. Cigarette smoke generates large amounts of free radicals – molecules that attack and overwhelm the body’s natural defenses. The result is a chain-reaction of damage throughout the body — including cells (osteoblast), organs (i.e liver), and hormones (calcitonin) involved in keeping bones healthy. Moderate alcohol intake (usually defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men) is beneficial. However, taken excessively disrupts with the balance of calcium absorption, an essential nutrient for healthy bones. It also increases parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels, which in turn reduce the body’s calcium reserves.

Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis


Studies of postmenopausal women report that aerobic, weight-bearing, and strength training exercise can increase bone mineral density in the spine and hip. When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle and endurance, you also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones (bone mass and density), increase joint flexibility, and balance, and prevents falls. Examples of weight bearing exercises are walking in the park or using treadmill, jogging, playing tennis, football, Tai Chi, climbing stairs and weight lifting. However, bicycling and swimming can be a great exercise but they are not weight bearing therefore not as effective in bone health benefits. Duration of 30 to 45 minutes a day and 3 or 4 times a week would be beneficial.

Preventative Measures for Osteoporosis

Prevention is better than cure. Why would we wait for our bones to weaken?

Let’s start treating our bones the right exercise and diet that they deserve!

Charles Esperas
Senior Fitness Manager
Fitness First Platinum – Dubai Media City

Fitness & Training

What Women Should Do to Lower Breast Cancer Risks

posted by FitnessFirst Team October 17, 2016 0 comments

Thousands of breast cancer cases could be avoided, if we simply embrace an active lifestyle. The pain of chemotherapy, the uncertainty of its recurrence and its many psychological effects make it a dreaded disease. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the region’s leading fitness experts at Fitness First are sharing some insights on what you can do to reduce your risks.

Be the first line of defense when it comes to breast cancer. Make way for lifestyle changes such as going alcohol and smoke-free, eating a balanced and nutritious diet and conducting self-examination tests. But controlling your weight through a fit and active lifestyle is most important because it can reduce breast cancer risks substantially. Your optimum weight could differ vastly from someone else’s, which is why it is essential you talk to your doctor, a nutritionist or a fitness-trainer to understand how best to keep your weight in check.

Fitness First experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. This can be broken down into 30 minutes of exercise 5 times per week. To set the ball rolling, you could start off with these simple activities:

1. Brisk Walking

Walking and brisk walking can do wonders to your weekly fitness routine. Try and increase the number of times and amount of time you walk daily. For 30 minutes, try a combination of walking, brisk walking and jogging, adjusting your pace depending on energy levels.


2. Cycling

Dedicated cycling tracks and community parks allow us ample opportunities to jump on the bike. With minimal equipment and little planning, cycling is the best way to help you deal with your energy-spend and calorie-burn. Combine it with a fitness app or your very own MYZONE belt to track your progress and keep the momentum going.

3. Zumba/Aerobics

Dance to the beat and let the moves do more good to your body than just lifting your spirits. 30 minutes of Zumba or Aerobics three times a week will do wonders for your immunity, strength and overall fitness. That’s not all, a Zumba and Aerobics group class provides extra motivation and lets you enjoy the competitive feeling with like-minded people.


4. Water Aerobics/Swimming

Dive into fitness with swimming. If you need more action, then an expert led water aerobics session is where you’ve got to be. With no pressure on your joints and a full body workout, swimming and water aerobics are one of the best fitness routines to take up.

5. Body Weight Training

A variety of push-ups, squats, lunges and jumps are waiting to be explored. Speak to a Fitness First expert and discover which body weight exercises you can include in your fitness routine.


Fitness First has been committed to Breast Cancer Awareness for many years and now with the annual adrenalin pumping session of Zumbathon. This year’s ‘Party in Pink’ is happening on the 23rd October at Fitness First Meadows.

Come join the party and spread awareness!

Fitness & Training

6 High Intensity Interval Training Exercises for Heart Health

posted by FitnessFirst Team September 29, 2016 0 comments

Cardio exercises are necessary for any effective training program, not only for fat burning, but also for overall good health. Your heart is a muscle, and we all know that to keep our muscles in shape we need move them.

The best thing about cardio workout is that we can do them anywhere and anytime. What we need is a little imagination and functionality of our own body so that we can run an infinite number of different movements, different intensity and contribute to our cardiovascular health. It is important to keep our body moving and choose a lifestyle that will help us avoid injuries.

Benefits of the Cardio workout:

♦ Faster metabolic system

♦ Decrease in cholesterol levels

♦ Increased secretion of growth

♦ Hormone increase blood flow to the brain,

♦ Improving concentration

♦ Improve digestion

♦ Stress reduction

♦ Strengthening the immune system

♦ Relief from depression and anxiety.

♦ Better sleep

♦ More confidence about how you feel and look

A side of the all advantages, there are people who love cardio exercise as much as “tooth extraction” and sometimes they find it boring to run, ride a bike, row or walk.

Today I choose a different type of cardio, High Intensity Interval Training that will help you to lose body fat, shape and feel great:

1. Lunge single Leg ( 15 second each leg )

2. Jumping Jacks X 30 second

3. Squat MB ball hold X 30 second

4. Shuttle run side 5mX30

5. Row machine Pike X 30 second

6. Burpee X 1 min

Repeat 3X/Max Repetitions/Monitor your progress

1. Lunge Single Leg:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  • Step forward with one foot and lower yourself by bending your knees
  • Your back should be straight throughout the whole movement
  • Stop when your front thigh is parallel with the ground


2. Jumping Jack

  • Stand tall with your back straight
  • Jump outward with feet wider
  • At the same time raise your arms overhead


3. Squat MB ball hold

  • Stand straight with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Adjust feet to face slightly outward
  • Lower yourself by bending knees and pushing your hips back
  • Keep back straight
  • Stop when your thighs are parallel with the ground
  • When you return press the ball and keep back straight


4. Shuttle run

  • Place 2 cons on a distance of 5m
  • Start from right or left side
  • Explode laterally
  • Run either to the right or left and touch the line with your hand


5. Row machine – pike

  • Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe
  • Pressing down through your palms, lift your hips up towards the ceiling by drawing your legs towards your chest until you look like an upside-down V, or as high as you can go
  • Slowly lower your legs and return to the starting position 


6. Burpee

  • Start with standing position
  • Lower yourself by bending knees to squat position with hands on the floor
  • Drop your feet back into plank position and keep your shoulders extended
  • Return back to the squat position by jumping forward


Your Hearth Rate Zone should be between 75-90%.

myzone-zonesDon’t forget to monitor your workout. Set and write down the goal and track your achievement. Be proud of every movement you do, this is a gift you are giving to your hearth and your health.

Don’t forget that “The Body achieves what the mind believes”.

Ivana Sargic
Assistant Fitness Manager
Fitness First Ladies Only, Marina Mall Abu Dhabi

Health & Nutrition

Secrets for a Heart Healthy lifestyle

posted by FitnessFirst Team September 15, 2016 0 comments

Heart Disease (which includes strokes and other cardiovascular diseases) still remains the number one cause of death – and when you think about that statistic, it is pretty chilling as there are more deaths to heart disease than all forms of cancer combined!

In 2008, heart disease caused almost 25% of deaths—almost one in every four—in the United States. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2008 were in men. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. – Source (cardiosmart.org)

Heart disease is also known as the “Silent Killer, as without medical checkups, often the first sign of this is a heart attack and in most cases this is too late. Yes we can go about regular checkups and doctor visits, but quite often they aren’t regular enough or good enough for that matter. I mean let’s face it we’re all guilty of it – How often do you go to the doctor unless you have cold or flu? A bad fall? Or even suffering from cardiac arrhythmia? (Irregular heart beat). Exactly – hardly ever!

My point is, it’s not just about scheduling regular checkups just as you would book your car in for service. It’s about embracing a healthy “active” lifestyle – incorporating nutrition and physical activity together (a recipe that combats most of life’s diseases and stresses).

Super foods for Heart Health

Heart Disease (which includes strokes and other cardiovascular diseases) still remains the number one cause of death – and when you think about that statistic, it is pretty chilling as there are more deaths to heart disease than all forms of cancer combined!

Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel and sardines top the list for containing copious amounts of Omega-3, known for lowering the risks of cardiac arrhythmia and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).

Oats: Are very high in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol. They act like a sponge in the digestive tract and absorb cholesterol so it is eliminated from the body and not absorbed into the blood stream.

Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and most other berries contain compounds called flavonoids  (which are antioxidants essentially) and they have a direct effect upon lowering blood pressure. A study was done on a group of people who incorporated 3 portions of blueberries into their weekly diets and in turn were 32% less likely to experience a heart attack, compared to those who ate less.

Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and macadamias all contain a fiber that is good for your heart. They also are very high in vitamin E, which helps to lower the “bad cholesterol”. A previous thought was that nuts were avoided as they contained higher amounts of fat, but recent studies have shown that people who eat nuts on a daily basis are leaner than those who don’t.

Broccoli, Spinach and Kale:  When it comes to any form of health you really can’t go wrong with vegetable and in particular your “greens”.  Green vegetables are especially high in carotenoids, which are high in antioxidants, cleansing your body from potentially harmful compounds. They also contain high amounts of fiber and tons of vitamins and minerals (“micronutrients”). Kale has one further benefit containing Omega-3 fatty acids.

Supplements for Heart Health

Heart Disease (which includes strokes and other cardiovascular diseases) still remains the number one cause of death – and when you think about that statistic, it is pretty chilling as there are more deaths to heart disease than all forms of cancer combined!

The top 5 recommended supplements for heart health:

1.  Omega-3 (dosage 1,000mg per day)

2. Vitamin D (1,000 IU per day)

3. Turmeric – Recent studies have shown huge benefits for its “anti-inflammatory” benefits, which have been linked to reducing the effects of heart disease.

4. Garlic – Reduces cholesterol

5. Cocoa powders/Dark chocolate – high in flavonoids, (antioxidants) which lower blood pressure

Activity for Heart Health

Heart Disease (which includes strokes and other cardiovascular diseases) still remains the number one cause of death – and when you think about that statistic, it is pretty chilling as there are more deaths to heart disease than all forms of cancer combined!

Unfortunately there is no shortcut to get your “cardio’ in whilst remaining strapped to your desk, you simply have to go out there and earn it!

Whilst’ some find physical activity a chore others live for it and can’t sleep until they have had a “right sweat”. For those who are part of the fitness industry and exercise and play sport regularly understand this concept, however it still seems to baffle the 95% of “desk jockeys” who will put it off and find any Hollywood diet or shortcut to sweating those excess calories out.

Recommended Activity levels by the AHA (American Heart Association):

For Overall Cardiovascular Health:

At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150


At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity


Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.


Joel Neale
Fitness Manager
Fitness First – Motor City Dubai

Fitness & Training

How to Make your Workout more Effective in Ramadan

posted by FitnessFirst Team May 30, 2016 0 comments

Ramadan is coming soon, and time of fasting is approaching. It is a totally different state for our mine and body. The best thing we can do is to adapt to new conditions which our body will go through. For some that means it is time to have a break from the gym. Not at all.

New conditions require new training methods as well. I will give you some advice on how to make your workout during Ramadan more effective.

First, what time is the best for workout?

Most of the food and water intake will happen during the night, and working out during the day can be hard, but we can use the new environment and take the most of it for productive workout.

My suggestion is to follow the work of hormone of stress (cortisol). Cortisol is a hormone who keeps us awake and who is speeding our fat burning process. Cortisol is having his strongest peak from 5am till 11am. And that is the perfect time to have your workout. If you are not morning person last peak of cortisol is at 5pm, and that should be ideal time to work out, just before breaking the fast.

Second, what is the best type of workout?

You should use more static and isolation moves, such as machines, weights and body-weight exercises instead of cardio exercises. The body will retain water, so I rather chose exercise that doesn’t require that much of a sweating, but at the same time to be productive. This type of exercise using proteins and carbohydrates (ATP, creatinine phosphates, glucose) the primary energy source, but while you are resting, your body is using fat as primary fuel.

With this type of workout your body will get energy from all resources and it will carry you out through rest of the day. You will feel more energetic and effects on your body and mind will be visible. That is one more reason to continue your training during fasting.

Outdoor Group Training main image

Hope these tips will change your perspective of working out during Ramadan time and will help you out to reach your goals.

Training never stops 🙂

Best of Luck,

Ivan Dimitric
Assistant fitness manager
Al Fardan Sharjah, Fitness First ME

Health & Nutrition

Are you ready for Ramadan?

posted by FitnessFirst Team May 24, 2016 0 comments

That anticipated cup of coffee every morning, that nourishing midday lunch and afternoon tea time, we would need to do without all these while fasting during the upcoming month of Ramadan. Planning and preparing your body for the month of fasting will make the transition easier and lessen any symptoms you might experience. Remember you are not only training your body to function comfortably on less food, you’re also signalling your mind and your appetite that the fast is approaching.

Here are 12 ways to prepare your body for fasting

1. Detoxify your body

Keep a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. Start each day with a complex carbohydrate breakfast that breaks down slowly, allowing you to stay energized through the day. Avoid heavy, unhealthy-fried foods, meats, salt and sugar that trigger reactions in the body, which can make cravings even harder to fight. Have a light meal at the end of each day: focus on fruit, vegetables, live-culture yogurt, and salad.


2. Reduce coffee intake

To avoid getting a pounding headache during the first few days of Ramadan, start now by reducing your caffeine intake and reduce your cups of coffee or tea throughout the day to train your body to function regularly caffeine free during daylight hours.

3. Drink plenty of water

Stay hydrated throughout the day and avoid dehydrating substances, staying away from diuretics like coffee and tea.

4. Reduce your food intake

Over-eating pre-Ramadan will only increase your appetite and make it more difficult to fast. Stick to 3 meals a day and avoid snacks in between to make an easier transition to having less meals during the holy month.

5. Have an early breakfast

Start having an early breakfast from now to help your body get used to the earlier hours of waking up and having Suhoor, especially if you are not much of a breakfast eater.

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year

6. Quit bad habits

Ramadan is an opportunity to quit bad habits such as smoking. Plan to wean off gradually to avoid various withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anger, restlessness, impatience, and difficulty concentrating during fasting hours.

7. Practice fasting

Try doing a few fasts in the run up to Ramadan to help you adapt. This is also a great opportunity to make up for any missed fasts from last year.

8. Regulate sleep

Start to mimic your sleeping habits for Ramadan like sleeping earlier to wake up earlier for Suhoor and having an afternoon nap.

9. Start Meal-planning

Prepare your menu for Iftar and Suhoor for the first seven days, list the ingredients needed, and go grocery shopping now when you are still full of energy.

10. Visit your doctor

Check with your doctor if it is safe for you to fast if you have any health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure or reflux, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

11. Modify your exercise routine

Regular gentle exercise is recommended during Ramadan which will help keep your energy levels up. Fasting slows the metabolism, making it harder to keep fit and burn calories at your usual level. Start planning your exercise routine during the holy month. Great options include moderate walking shortly before breaking the fast, swimming, yoga and stretching regularly, particularly in the morning to keep the body limber.


Last but not least…

12. Set an intention for the month to come

Think about what you’d like to change in your life: perhaps you need to cut out poor habits and live a healthier lifestyle. Consider what you can do to become a happier and more effective human being. Ramadan is a prime opportunity to your reflect on your life and reset your routines – so plan ahead to make the best use of your time.

Fitness & Training

Exercise Prescription for Diabetes

posted by FitnessFirst Team April 11, 2016 0 comments

The main purpose of exercising for somebody who is diabetic is to improve muscular conditioning and increase glucose sensitivity.  When we exercise, our muscles require fuel to function after prolonged periods.  For somebody who is diabetic, exercising will help improve their blood sugar control.

Aerobic Exercise Prescriptions

  • 4-6 times per week
  • 20-60 minutes
  • Low –Moderate Intensity
  • Walking, Cycling, Cross Trainer, Rowing.



Resistance Training Prescriptions

  • 2-3 times per week
  • 20-40 minutes
  • Low –Moderate Intensity
  • Machines, Free Weights, Circuits.


Example Workout

  1. Dumbbell Chest Press                   3 x 10-12 Reps                   60 seconds rest
  2. Rope Pushdowns                           3 x 10-12 Reps                   60 seconds rest
  3. Dumbbell Shoulder Press             3 x 10-12 Reps                   60 seconds rest
  4. Dumbbell Lateral Raise                3 x 10-12 Reps                   60 seconds rest
  5. Lat Pulldown                                 3 x 10-12 Reps                   60 seconds rest
  6. Leg Press                                       3 x 10-12 Reps                   60 seconds rest
  7. Walking Lunges                            3 x 10-12 Reps                   60 seconds rest
  8. Plank Hold                                    3 x 60 seconds                   60 seconds rest


Things to keep in mind

  • You should check your blood sugar levels before, during, and after your workout to make sure there are no sudden drops.
  • If your blood sugar level is less than 5.5 mmols/l (100 mg/dl) prior to exercise, take a carbohydrate snack prior to beginning the exercise.
  • Always carry a fast-acting carbohydrate food such as glucose tablets when exercising in the event blood sugar drops too low and hypoglycemia symptoms develop during exercise.
  • Do not exercise within 3 hours of going to sleep

Trevor Flowers
Personal Trainer / Fitness Manager
Fitness First Motor City

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

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year
Health & Nutrition

IF NOT NOW WHEN? 8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year

posted by FitnessFirst Team December 21, 2015 2 Comments

With the New Year approaching, comes the opportunity for a fresh start. Make sure your main goal is switching to a healthier lifestyle and maintain/achieving a healthy weight.

1. Find your motivation

What’s your motivation? Losing weight? Looking better in clothes? Feeling more energetic? Or simply improving your health? Get clear about what you really want and why you want to change, and use it to inspire you.

2. Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal

S: Specific. Make your goal is specific. It should be exactly what you want
M: Measurable. You can measure your progress, so you can track yourself
A: Attainable. Set small goals you can achieve in a short time
R: Realistic. Do not set impossible goals
T: Timely. Set a time to achieve your goal

3. Start changing gradually

Your first small step toward wellness can be a giant leap for your self-confidence. Don’t make the mistake of turning your life into an existence you no longer recognize as your own. Any unwise habits you have probably took years to form. Your best chance to change them is to take it slowly. Drastic changes make you lose your self-control on food. Make sure your changes are gradual so you can get used to them and you can preserve in the long term.

4. Fill up on vegetables

Vegetables are not only high in vitamins, minerals, and fibers but also fill you up with fewer calories. Make sure you are adding veggies to your daily meals. Fill half of your plate with vegetables, or start your meal with salad, this helps you not to overeat from the main dish.

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New Year


5. Rate your plate on every meal

Make sure your plate on every meal is equivalent to my plate. Divide your plate into four quarters:

  • ¼ for fruits (choose whole fruits)
  • ¼ for vegetables (choose a variety)
  • ¼ for protein (choose animal lean protein, or plant based protein)
  • ¼ for carbohydrate (make sure most of your daily carbohydrates are whole)

6. Enjoy your food but eat less, so how you can do it?

  • Use a smaller plate, bowl or glass and choose smaller portions. Use a smaller serving spoon.
  • Take a small portion of your favorite foods that may be high in calories or salt and enjoy each bite.
  • Take your time to enjoy your food, your brain needs at least 20 minutes to realize that you are full
  • Stop eating when you are satisfied, not full

7. Not skipping your meals especially breakfast

Skipping meals, does not help you in weight loss strategy, it sets your goal back. Skipping meals put your body in starvation mode (your body thinks that you are starving and starts to store fat), and also skipping meals leads to binging on your next meal. And keep in mind your body is like a car (if you do not put fuel in it, it will not move), same if you do not put nutrition in your body it will not burn calories.

8. Physical activity

Add exercise to your daily bases make sure you are exercising at least 150 minutes per week (moderate intensity exercise). Remember healthy nutrition will not make you lose weight without physical activity, and physical activity will not make you fit without healthy nutrition.

8 Tips to make a fresh start for the New YearIf you find or you think it is difficult to start alone, you can ask for help from our experts, or simply ask for support from your family or friends. Remember that good health is a result of your overall eating pattern.

Every next meal is a new opportunity to nourish your body!

Banin Shahine
Nutrition Manager
Fitness First Middle East

Fitness & Training

The benefits of yoga

posted by FitnessFirst Team November 24, 2014 0 comments

Although it has become a very popular form of exercise in recent years, the art of yoga is thousands of years old. Despite its age, this is still one of the best exercise routines you can take advantage of, especially when you consider all the benefits of yoga. This style of exercise is also one of the most popular at Fitness First.

At its core, yoga is designed to create harmony in the body and mind while increasing your core strength. This can help those who need to exercise to achieve their fitness goals, build lean muscle and reduce the stress they are feeling at the same time. This is because, in addition to precise toning and strengthening exercises, yoga incorporates breathing exercises and meditation in the exercise routine.

This is where the benefits come in. Studies have shown that yoga can actually reduce chronic pain, lower blood pressure and even help reduce insomnia in patients. People suffering from lower back pain, migraines and even long term ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome have also experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms by regularly following a yoga routine.

With regular attendance in a Fitness First yoga class, participants often experienced better flexibility, an improvement in the tone of their body, and even more energy and vitality to help them through the day. While here at Fitness First, you’ll find that we have a number of yoga classes that include:

  • Gentle Flow Yoga
  • Flow Yoga
  • Ashtanga Yoga
  • Breathing Yoga
  • Power Yoga
  • Swing Yoga

As part of a healthy diet and exercise routine, they are able to see a dramatic boost to their metabolism, which helps to achieve weight loss.

Those with heart concerns experience improved circulatory and cardiovascular health. This significantly drops their risk of a cardiovascular event while improving their athletic performance and allowing yoga participants to experience better protection from a workout injury.

Thanks to the reduction in stress, those who had stress ailments tend to experience an improvement in their symptoms. Concentration improved, people begin to sleep better and manifested pain can be dramatically reduced, such as neck pain and migraines that are the can be result of stress in your life.

When considering any Fitness First yoga program, keep in mind that participants are not required to do everything that is done in class. Chances are you won’t be able to do some of the yoga poses for the first few weeks. But you can push yourself to do the best you can. Over time, your flexibility and strength will improve and before long, you can achieve some of the more advanced poses. While you might not be able to put yourself into a pretzel-like state immediately, you can see an improvement in your flexibility relatively quickly. When you add in all the health benefits, you’ll quickly find that yoga is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body.