What does a new triathlete need for racing

posted by FitnessFirst Team September 18, 2017 0 comments

Triathlon can become as expensive or as inexpensive pursuit as you want it to be. There’s no need to break the bank in order to be race-ready. Here is a list of what you absolutely need to train and race a triathlon.

Essential Gear

For the Swim

Any swimsuit, a pair of goggles that fit and a swim cap.

For the Bike

Any mountain, TT or road bike you have in your garage and if you don’t own one, you can rent one from Revolution Cycles or your preferred local bike shop, a helmet and a shirt for comfort and speed, preferably a close-fitting synthetic shirt.

For the Run

A pair of runners that fit your feet and style of running.

Optional Gear

Tri suit: an upgrade that will take you through the bike and to the run without changing.

Wetsuit: if you plan training/racing in cold water

Clipless pedals and bike shoes: An easy upgrade that translates to more efficiency and speed on the bike.

Sunglasses: Keeps the wind out of your eyes on the bike, and makes the run more comfortable in the sun.

GPS watch: to track your race and share the experience with friends through Strava or similar online platforms.

The most important thing about the gear you use for a triathlon is the comfort.

Talal Almoallem
Certified Ironman Coach
ASCA Level 3 Swim Coach


Who are Triathlons for? Is it for me?

posted by FitnessFirst Team September 18, 2017 0 comments

Triathlon is an endurance sport in which the athlete carries out swimming, cycling and running, in that order, and with the clock running during transitions between swim/bike and bike/run. It is an event won by completing the course with the fastest time. It is a great fun and accessible sport for all. It does attract social friendly types of people and fits in different lifestyles.

Why do triathlons?

You don’t need to be a hardcore super fit athlete to take part in triathlons. Many people use triathlon as a goal or a way to get motivated to do cardio, lose weight and also for its social factor to meet other like-minded individuals. Triathlon offers a great variety for training so you are not always doing the same thing and you’ll never get bored, it also offers event finishers a great sense of accomplishment and presents endless challenges! You can always work to go further and get faster.

Who can do a triathlon?

Are you in search of fitness, motivation, a challenge and/or the social benefits of a sport? Then triathlon is for you and you can absolutely train for and participate in triathlons.

Can I really finish a triathlon?

As long as you pick a triathlon that’s suited realistically to your abilities, you put in the training, surround yourself with like-minded individuals and you want it bad enough, then you will finish it. The fact that you’re reading this means you’re interested in endurance and fitness and the chances are very high that you could finish a triathlon.

Do I need to be strong in any of the three disciplines?

You don’t really need to be a strong swimmer, cyclist or runner. Starting to practice all three disciplines will make it possible for you to do triathlon no matter what level you start at and no matter what weaknesses you have. The swim, bike or run can be a challenge for some, but encountering challenges and overcoming them is what triathlon is all about. You may not be the best swimmer, cyclist or runner, but when you finish your weakest discipline, the game is still ON!

Talal Almoallem
Certified Ironman Coach
ASCA Level 3 Swim Coach


Top Tips for Starting Your Tri-Training

posted by FitnessFirst Team September 18, 2017 0 comments

Hopefully by now, you have fully committed to your decision to train for a triathlon and you’ve stopped thinking about if you should or not?

Don’t worry, we have all been there!

It can seem daunting and overwhelming when taking on such a challenge… However, the good news is I am here to tell you how easy it can be… yes you heard me right… it can be easy. Now I’m not saying it won’t take some hard work physically and mentally, but we can help you to make the journey as seamless as possible.

Check out some top tips on how to get started with your training.

Don’t over think what equipment you need

There are hundreds of articles and people out there who will tell you about lots of different types of gadgets, bikes, swimsuits and running shoes you will need but my advice is KEEP IT SIMPLE! If you want to explore your options then please do but you do not NEED anything fancy or expensive.

I completed my first sprint triathlon wearing a swimming costume, goggles and mandatory swim hat. For the cycle, I used a standard road bike which cost AED 1500 and a pair of trainers which I then used for the run leg of the race. In fact, even when I did the 70.3 distance the only extra item I invested in was a pair of cycling shoes!

Start Training…

Quit thinking and start moving.  Don’t worry about how much distance you can cover at the beginning. Start working on running, cycling and swimming either indoors or outdoors. The distance will soon start to clock up as your fitness levels increase.

Plan your weekly training schedule

Schedule your sessions around your work, family and social commitments. Consistent training is the key to getting the result you want. This also includes REST! Download a training plan to see what sessions you could attend or to get more guidance on the type of training you should do.

Share your goals!

Tell your family, friends and colleagues what you are training for. This will keep you accountable and will inspire others! Join a group of like minded people who share the same goal and you are guaranteed to stay motivated throughout your training.

Get a Coach

A coach will keep you on track, help you with technique, tips and accountability. You can find a coach within group sessions or 1:1 sessions for a real personalized approach. If you want to get the best from yourself this is definitely the way to go!

Charlotte Stebbing
National Fitness
Programming Manager

Jon Norris


posted by FitnessFirst Team September 17, 2017 0 comments

My first half iron distance triathlon was my second triathlon ever. I had only ever attempted a sprint in the French mountains a few months before.  A friend teased that I should come and do a real triathlon in Dubai, she was a veteran at 70.3 distances and has a strong understanding of the sport and required endurance. Me…..I was naive and keen to impress.

Jon Norris

“What the hell am I doing” was my only thought as I looked around and saw no one and nothing but sand. My wheels were spinning at 16kmh or at least that’s what Garmin said even though my heart was pounding and legs were screaming. The wind was blowing a gale, I felt like I was back on the piste in a blizzard only now sand for snow. Above, the sun glared down with a strength unknown to any man. I seriously contemplated manufacturing a puncture, wishing an injury upon myself or even better being swallowed up by the nearest sand dune and waking up to realise it had all been a bad dream. Alas……I still had over 40km to go.

I finally finished the worst conditions race possible with a time of just sub 7 hrs. More importantly than leaving with just a medal I left with an urge to continue in this great sport and improve myself both mentally and physically for the next race.

Triathlon is an interesting sport

Triathlon is an interesting sport, a discipline that calls to a select few and becomes a way of life. No matter how you found the sport once there you are addicted. Endless hours in the pool, months running wherever you can find the time and moments on the bike that feel like you have been sitting there for days; not to mention all this whilst juggling your family, work, friends, kids school, piano or ballet classes. Food? That becomes a whole new way of life and understanding. If you are not a qualified nutritionist before entering triathlon you soon will be.

John Norris

After a year of continually spinning my wheels, running around the same courses and swimming the same lengths in the same pool with no gains I finally understood the benefits of smart training. Luckily I was swept up into the Fitness First Dubai Ironman effort and enrolled in the Masters Swim classes. I have always considered myself a competent swimmer although it would take a little persuasion to enter the pool however working directly with a qualified coach, Talal Almoallem (@talal_almoallem) and training on regular days within a group has improved my technique and efficiency in the water that I am now happy to say has shaved almost 10 minutes off my 1.9km swim time. Completing the Dubai Ironman 70.3 in 2017 was a huge goal for me and I owe my PB time to training with Talal and the team at Fitness First.

John Norris

Being taught the benefits of swimming sets and the strategy behind them has made me re-evaluate my other disciplines in the sport. With continual support and advice from the Fitness First team I am confident to say that my swimming and biking have both taken large improved steps towards further successes. Alongside the varied classes on offer and the one to one gym instruction my core and overall fitness has jumped enormously which is beginning to be seen in my day to day running programs. With continued guidance from the experts in their fields and the best equipment available in the UAE I have really found new purpose in my gym visits.

Whatever the reasons to get fit there is added benefit throughout your life from living a healthier lifestyle. My journey has just begun and already I am so thankful to the Masters Swim class for helping me get both my feet on the ground to a more productive training schedule where I can see actual results. I have more energy in my day, my days are longer, I am more focused and I now actually look forward to getting in the pool or on the bike. I still struggle some days with the thought of having to do a 10km run, particularly in the summer heat here but what can I say…..my gyms aircon is almost as cool as the staff!

Jon Norris

Jon Norris

Our Team

Let the race begin!

posted by FitnessFirst Team January 9, 2017 0 comments

Here it goes: nutrition – check, water bottles – check, swimming gear – check, race fuel – check, timing chip – check, bed time – check.  4am my alarm goes off and by 4:30am I’m driving to the beach…It’s dark, windy and unbelievably exciting. Any other circumstance would made me question my sanity but not on the race day! I get ready in T1, march nervously towards the swim start to stand shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of athletes from around the world that are about to battle the same distance across swim, bike and run disciplines to proudly wear the finisher T-shirt…

…before you put on the Finisher T-shirt, you’ve spent months preparing for the race, investing in your mental and physical health, made sacrifices around your work and personal lifestyle because you’ve made a choice. A choice that made you commit to yourself and your team, a choice that has victory at the end of the road and one, that only you can push through when the times get tough!

On January 27th 2017 we are going to witness 160 Fitness First staff changing into the ‘Finisher’ t-shirt & here is how: 2 years ago there were 3 Fitness First employees who signed up to race individually the half Ironman distance triathlon in Dubai…the following year we decided to invite some keen colleagues to join us which brought our numbers to a total of 60 at the Dubai International Triathlon….this year, 160 Fitness First staff, few of our members and key business partners are going to stand proudly at the IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai start line to use their strength, to face their fears and to live our brand. Over the years, we watched the passion grow within our teams which is now unstoppable with clubs supporting major sporting events, competing in international races and our presence across the field in the Middle East. That’s what counts. From the Executive Team to club teams, we live, breathe and just can’t get enough of our brand, what better place to be!

If you look at the team and individual split, not everyone is a pro but everyone is a hero! Some of us never thought a triathlon is something to get involved in, some have only learnt how to swim in the process, others never run more than 5 or 10km and some & for some, focus has always been weight training…. and yes,  there are also those that haven’t ridden a bike since they were kids! But, does it really matter and how do you involve such big numbers?  Simple, they all made a choice and they love what we do. Based on a simple shout out, in less than 2 weeks we exceeded our predicted numbers for participants and the interest kept going. With the support from Fitness First our teams are training hard and awaiting the arrival of their training kit. This amazing initiative would’ve not been possible if it wasn’t for our closest strategic partners contributing almost AED 100,000 in sponsorship, call this a team effort! We’ve created a huge buzz around the business successfully continuing to promote the sense of community through social media activations, never ending what’s app groups, high energy training sessions and have already been asked about the next event. No session is ever too late and no session is ever too early, participation strives! We support them, we help them but all the hard work, come from the individuals…all we did, is ignited the fire!

Key important component of success for any company are when staff is passionate about your product, about your brand, about your future. How powerful it is that 160 staff will be waving the Fitness First flag on the race day, a race that is recognised internationally in the age group and professional field …. The main part however comes way before the race day : it starts with commitments and a plan, then hours of training, strategy, aches and pains, learning the disciplines, early starts and late finished, nutrition changes and body transformations is what it takes to stand on that beach and wait for the whistle to blow.  It starts by not giving up. By then, you’ve earned it, you worked for it, and you are ready to face it. We are proud that our teams represent that.

For some of us, it is just another race, another t-shirt, another medal …. For others, it’s a challenge of a lifetime or a race they never dreamt of participating in. We are making it happen but our staff passion for fitness & movement made the recruitment easy! Truth to be told, you are never too old for the next medal…

Will the numbers grow year on year? Yes. Will we involve our members? Absolutely. Do we love what we do? No doubt.

See you all at the beach on January 27th 2017…. shoulder to shoulder let the race begin!

Kate Milewska
Group Central Operations and Customer Service Manager
Fitness First Middle East and North Africa


Race before the race - Behind the scenes of Ironman 70.3
Our Team

Race before the race – Behind the scenes of Ironman 70.3

posted by FitnessFirst Team March 28, 2016 0 comments

Whether you are an experienced athlete or a first timer, once you press the “Register” button on the IRONMAN website, your schedule, your energy, your world starts evolving around that exact date as you prepare for the race.

You train, you listen, you educate yourself, you push hard and learn new levels outside of your comfort zone. You count the days and make plans until the day where you drop off your machine at T1 & pack your bags for the next day stressing if you will get enough sleep and if the fuel plan you prepared is good enough….then you see the weather changing, the wind picking up and you wonder if your plan will become a reality. Before you turn up at 5am the next morning to complete the bike preparation and walk over to the swim start….someone’s already waiting for you…

Race before the race - Behind the scenes of Ironman 70.3

(Photography credits attributed to the owner)

That someone has also been preparing for months, formed plans and strategies & recruited the best people for the job to make sure, we are all ready for the race day. But our game is a race before the race. We must beat you to the start line, to the transition area, to the swim start and to the aid stations. We must be first on the ground with weeks of preparation, logistics and super team ready to make it happen!


For the first time since I started racing in triathlons just over a year ago, I had the pleasure to witness & be part of the team behind the scenes by joining RACE.ME & the IRONMAN team as one of the Team Leaders for the IM Dubai 70.3 race. Although I could only join the forces few days before the event where majority of the mega jobs were completed, the challenge, experience and team work that I experienced in that time was priceless. We are aware that it takes time and huge amount of work to pull such projects off but unless you are in the middle of organizing & coordinating 300+ volunteers for various Team Managers, setting up the aid stations where the athletes count on you to supply them with fuel and support, getting to site at 3 am and leaving almost 20 hours later holding tightly a “to do” list for the next day, it’s almost impossible to comprehend. I loved every moment of it for the people around me , for the precision in decision making, for the comradely around the base camp and for the challenge and learning’s that the whole experience brought me.

Your days are people intense filled with wins & setbacks, your hard work pays off or you turn up in the morning to find the site a bit less organized than you left it as you realize our close cousin “the 35 km/wind” decided to visit last night… But you race as hard as you can and you push as much as you can for when the athletes arrive , you are standing tall with a big smile, your white Team Leader shirt and a warm welcome wishing them a great day! What’s amazing about a local race is that all of your tri friends are there and they welcome you with hugs and thank you words knowing , that you made a difference to what’s about to come. The race kicks off, the tweets are flying, helicopters are up in the air, the pro athlete watch is on and we are on our stations, ready to shout the words of encouragement and continue with our secret operation behind the scenes.


Being in charge of some of the run course set up, it gave me a chance to really interact with everyone and I loved it. Everyone gives you a smile back and if energy lasts, even a high-5 or a cheeky joke. You run around the stations and they run around the course until the last person crosses the finish line….medals are issued, podium is waiting and the little army behind the scenes is on their way to clean up the tables, pick up the cones and reverse all the set up that made IRONMAN DUBAI 70.3 look and feel incredible. The evening brings congratulations which go both ways and then you know, we are all in this together…

From athletes to athletes.

#getinvolved #oneteam #newexperience

Kate Milewska
Group Central Operations and Customer Service Manager
Fitness First Middle East and North Africa

The one who took the extra Mile…




Our Team

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

posted by FitnessFirst Team November 24, 2015 4 Comments

An inside story on our company experience in the Dubai International Triathlon 2015


Months and months of training leading up to this event were the most exciting, challenging, stressful,   strenuous and I must say fun, where every team member gave his/her utmost best to train and get ready for this big event. Waking up at dawn most days of the week, giving up our weekend sleep-ins and Friday nights just to train, committing to a rigorous training plan and nutrition focused diet, meeting to train as a team in the early hours of the morning and saying the statement “No sorry, I have to train” was the attitude of the Fitness First athletes who decided to accept the challenge and participate in Dubai International Triathlon (DIT).

What better way to challenge our staff than to select this prestigious event with around 800 athletes joining from all over the world competing against us. The Dubai International Triathlon (DIT), with its second time round in Dubai, featured an exciting new venue and race course with a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21.1km run around Dubai International Endurance City.

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The Start of the Story

A handpicked few of 50 employees by our COO, were challenged to participate in this triathlon coming from different departments with varying fitness levels. For some, they had already done it as pros and for others it was their first time. All accepted the challenge for different reasons, personal goals and records they wanted to achieve. For those who felt they weren’t ready for the full race yet, the team concept was a great option to choose the preferred discipline and participate as a team. This way each member experiences the same competitive atmosphere and shares the sense of achievement that this race offers.

Once the challenge and commitment was accepted there was no looking back, no giving up, it was a goal everyone one of us wanted to achieve and complete. The support and motivation from the Fitness First team was a key driver in looking forward, believing in ourselves and just approaching the day with confidence. When all training was done, all we could do was wait for the moment to act and perform we were all just impatient, at the end feeling we need to do this.

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

What motivated you to participate ?

A question we asked all our athletes with most answering wanting to step out of their comfort zone, challenge themselves and to do something they never did before. Others wanted to overcome an injury and prove they can still do it and that anything is possible. Some wanted to train for a reason to reach their personal goals and achieve record results.  For whatever the reason, there was the motivation to get these 50 Fitness First employees to do it.

Click here to watch the video of our COO and others about what motivated them to participate in Dubai International Triathlon as the Fittest Company in the Middle EastThe Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle EastPre-race moments

Every member of the team was getting ready, the swimmers warming up, the cyclists checking on their bikes racked from last night and the runners showing up to see their teams off. It was all about mixed feelings of excitement, butterflies in your stomach, waves of nausea and a dry, prickly mouth but we managed to get some great pictures through all these race-day anxieties.

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The Race

The swim leg started at Jumeirah Beach Residence next to Hilton Double Tree hotel, athletes then cycled through Dubai Marina towards Motor City to the purpose built Al Qudra cycle track before finishing at the Dubai International Endurance City where the runners completed three laps of a technical course.

Despite months of training, nobody was prepared for what happened during the race.

A storm a few days prior to the event meant that athletes had to overcome tricky weather conditions which added to the challenge.  The windy weather made the race particularly difficult with high waves during the swim, a bike course with a challenging head wind for most of the. The run course wasn’t all smooth but with uphill roads, sandy pebbly tracks and windy sandy conditions toughing the run course not to mention the midday sun and heat being the final discipline.

All athletes were pushed to their physical and mental limits.

The Swim 1.9 KM

It was an amazing site to watch all the swimmers get prepared and jump in to start the swim leg.

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The mental preparation at the race moment was the most important thing.The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The drive to succeed and push ourselves to the limit was key in achieving the results we aimed for.The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The Bike 90 KM

The cyclists arriving at the Dubai International Endurance City village after a strenuous 90 KM bike ride.

Still looking good after this long ride with a smile on our faceThe Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

Getting off the bike happy to have completed the courseThe Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

Bikes all racked up after the bike courseThe Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The Run 21.1 KM

Setting off on the run courseThe Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

Running with no shoes just to get started…this is the Fitness First attitudeThe Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

Waving to the crowd is always a positive attitudeThe Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

Post-race moments

The mental race was harder than the physical race and this is what many confessed going through. There were thoughts and feelings of demotivation, defeat and the mind giving up before the body. The fight is to get past these thoughts and convince your brain that your body can do it.

One of the swimmers was overwhelmed with the adrenaline which gave him a slow start and taken in by the rush of all the swimmers felt drained then he told himself it’s now or never, I need to do this for the team and fought his way through the waves and managed to complete his part.

What made this all worth it was the final moment of reaching the finish line and getting that medal over your head with your hands up in the air saying…I did it!

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The moment you put that medal in between your teeth and smile

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East
It’s all about teamwork and the team enjoying the final moments winning together

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The Results

All of us are winners and finishers of this great race but a few deserve some extra bit of recognition.

Lisa Hancox for First Place in her category Females 35-39 with a total time of 5:29:37 hrs

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

NoPro Team for second place in the Mixed Teams with a total time of 4:32:51 hrs

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

For the Male 35-39 category we have two exceptional performers who did the full distance

Gareth  Hall with a total time of 5:12:07 ranking 12 out of 80

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

Dennis  Bierman with a total time of 6:25:00 ranking 57 out of 80

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle East

The Final Shot

Now we can proudly say WE ARE the Fittest Company in the Middle East! #FittestCompanyME

The Race to Win the Fittest Company in the Middle EastHana Feidi
Digital Content Manager
Fitness First Middle East

DIT-Hana Feidi

Fitness & Training

Ever wanted to do a Triathlon?

posted by FitnessFirst Team August 11, 2015 0 comments

To complete a Triathlon shows great physical and mental strength, a high level of fitness and a good amount of muscular endurance.

When training for an event like a Triathlon, a lot of the hard work and conditioning is done during training prior to the event. This is so you are in the best shape and optimal fitness by the time you take part.

Obviously, to improve your swimming you will need to train in water, to improve your cycling you will need to practice on a bike and for running, you guessed it…you need to run. However, this article will give you exercises and techniques that will help facilitate your overall fitness, strength and endurance when in the gym…making you a better athlete and ready for a triathlon.



Technique and breathing is really important for swimming. In order to improve your breathing, you need to develop your fitness and your cardio vascular system.

1. The arm bike

This machine works your upper body. Sit down and make sure the handles are in line with shoulder height. Hold each handle and perform a push and pull circular rotation movement. Think of this exercise as freestyle swimming. Aim to complete 5 minutes continuously building up towards 15 minutes. You will feel it work the arms and also your cardio respiratory system. (If you do not have access to the arm bike, you can use the rowing machine. The rower works the upper body and the lower body, combining the big muscles in the legs with the arms. This will improve your co-ordination and whilst doing this, you can focus on controlling your breathing. Aim to complete 5 minutes of rowing and a total of x3 sets)

2. Core arm & leg extension

Having a strong core will help keep your body in alignment and your posture straight. If you can do this in the water when swimming, you will exert less energy which will benefit your breathing and technique especially in the sea against the tide. First, set yourself up into the plank position where your elbows are under shoulders and your knees are lifted so you are balancing on your toes. From there, stage 1 is to tap the left leg to the side then back in and then tap the right leg to the side and back in. Stage 2 is to tap the hands. The main focus should be to keep your hips square to the floor and avoid rotating. Draw your belly in, brace your abdominals to keep the still as you tap your feet or hands from side to side in a slow controlled movement. Aim for x3 sets of 10-20 taps.

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