Fitness fanatics in Bahrain plan to beat rising obesity levels
Time Out Bahrain staff
Fitness fanatics and friends Mohamed Baloshi and Ali AlSayed have organised a series of week-long fitness retreats called Fit4Life. They tell us more about their ambitious plan to beat rising obesity levels in Bahrain.
Beef burgers, French fries, milkshakes and fizzy drinks are only a few of the calorie-laden treats that are becoming more and more popular in Bahrain’s dining out scene, while national dishes such as shawarmas and lamb chops remain staunch favourites.
Deep-fried is the dish of choice and fast food joints have become commonplace, drive-thrus a daily visit, but rather than adding welcome diversity to the island’s restaurant industry, this just means obesity levels are at an incredible high among the population. As a result, over 15 percent of Bahrainis aged over 20 suffer from diabetes, heart disease is the biggest killer, and the total expenditure on healthcare in the country rises 12 percent every year due to chronic lifestyle diseases, reports the Ministry of Health.
Thanks to more worldwide studies, it should be clear to all of us how these lifestyle choices can have a direct effect on our health.
It is at least clear to proud Bahrainis Mohamed Baloshi and Ali AlSayed who recently launched Fit4Life, a company that organises week-long fitness retreats across the island in an effort to address the ever-significant issues of obesity.
Mohamed has been active since he was in the third grade and he joined his school’s gymnastics team, as well as the West Riffa Club ‘under 14s’ football team. ‘I think it’s safe to say that I discovered a natural aptitude and passion for fitness early on,’ he tells us. From there, he joined the ‘under 16s’ basketball team, participated in track-and-field games, and pursued a career as an athlete in which he’s won awards and set records for the long- and triple-jumps in the region.
For Ali, it didn’t come so naturally. ‘I had struggled with weight loss for most of my life,’ Ali admits. ‘At the age of 17, when I moved away to go to university, I got on a treadmill and jogged for ten minutes. Those were the hardest ten minutes of my life!’
From that moment onwards, Ali discovered a love for fitness but he still found it hard to maintain an active lifestyle, particularly after he founded his own digital marketing agency which meant hours behind a laptop screen.
‘One day, I received a call from someone I had not met before saying, “I heard that you’re a personal trainer and I need you to please coach me!”’ Mohamed tells us of the moment he first met Ali. ‘Even though I had a full-on schedule, between training clients and lecturing at the Ministry of Education and Bahrain Olympics Committee, I thought “why not?” After all, the greatest thing I could do with my knowledge is helping others.’
And help Ali he did. So much so that Ali become one of Mohamed’s most successful clients, lifting more weight than many of the clients he had ever coached. They fast became friends and after one particularly exhausting work-out session, and numerous enthusiastic chats, they both realised they could actually help others too. And so Fit4Life was born.
‘While there are many nutritionists and personal trainers in Bahrain,’ Ali explains, ‘they are only with you for one hour and then you’re free to go back to your old habits for the remaining 23 hours of the day. ‘Fit4Life is an immersive, all-inclusive fitness retreat that will bridge that gap.’
These week-long retreats, with shared and personal accommodation available at premium venues across the island, offer participants five healthy meals per day, alongside four to seven hours of exercise and one-hour daily seminars on various topics of health, wellbeing, fitness and nutrition with information specific to people living in the Middle East. Tests are conducted at the beginning of each week to assess fitness levels, strengths and weaknesses, and then the following programmes are catered to each person’s abilities.
Mohamed explains, ‘The retreats will have a minimum of six participants and a maximum of 20 in order to guarantee lots of personal attention and coaching. Each retreat will have up to four certified fitness instructors guiding retreaters through exercises such as interval training, obstacle courses, boxing, team games, running drills and many, many more.’
Overall, the idea is about developing good lifestyle habits that will stay with each participant for months and years to come. Don’t expect it to be comfortable and easy though, warns Ali. ‘It’s all about personal integrity! We will encourage, support and motivate retreaters each minute of each day. However, it’s up to you to take that next step and push that little bit harder.’
He adds, ‘We started Fit4Life to address a need, a real problem, and offer a solution to a gap that needs closing. We aim to help hundreds of people, and maybe one day, thousands.’
Yet, ‘it’s not a magic pill solution,’ says Mohamed. ‘It’s good old fashioned healthy eating and exercise with expert coaching every step of the way. That’s it!’ For more information, rates and scheduled retreat dates visit www.fit-4.life.