Rumble in The Jungle

We stop off at the new family fitness facility in Budaiya

Rumble in The Jungle

Get fit with all the family at a brand new fitness facility in Budaiya. We speak to ‘The Jungle’ founder Craig Heslop to find out why your kids should start getting tribal.

It has been five years since New Zealander personal fitness trainer and former rugby pro Craig started Tribal Fitness in Bahrain, following a serious bout of disillusionment with the sterile gym atmosphere. His approach to fitness has since captured residents’ imaginations and just last month, he opened a brand new facility called ‘The Jungle’ in Budaiya that offers regular classes to both adults and kids following his ‘back to basics’ mantra. With childhood obesity on the rise all over the world, we were keen to find out more about how this type of exercise could keep kids both entertained and healthy.

You’ve just opened your first facility (not gym) in Bahrain for Tribal Fitness. Tell us a bit about it…
We are really excited to open up our new facility. It is open-floor so we can make every session new and exciting.

Why have you decided to call it ‘The Jungle’?
This was an appropriate name because people can lift objects, climb on the monkey bars and crawl on planks. All our movements are natural and aside from a few rowers, we don’t have any machines. You get to move like a human animal and have plenty of fun.

What exactly do you teach in ‘Tribal Juniors’?
The programme works to guide our students to optimal health and fitness through natural movement, food and living. The kids end up growing into strong, happy, healthy adults. We break the week into two sessions: ‘Strength and skill’ develops quality movement patterns and a base of functional strength. ‘Survival’ is our second session of the week and involves physical and mental challenges. The kids learn how to problem solve, work as a team and develop mental endurance.

What kind of supervision is available?
The sessions are capped at 12 individuals to maintain the highest standards of coaching. All our coaches are highly educated and experienced. I personally take all the junior sessions and have over ten years of experience working with mini-athletes.

Are the classes based on age groups and abilities?
The junior sessions start as young as two years of age (‘Tribal Toddlers’). We go up to 15 years and then they progress into our adult sessions. We do not care for the ability of the student but we do care for their mindset. The students must consistently display the ‘Five Ps’: Positive, Punctual, Polite, Productive and Present. We are not a babysitting service and only accept students who are willing to give their best.

How does this kind of training benefit children?
Firstly, the students take ownership of their own health. We provide regular challenges that include natural food and living.

We typically see the students who are inspired to eat nutrient dense foods. They also understand how important quality sleep is.

I love working with the kids because you can positively influence someone for the rest of their life. ‘Fitness’ might be a dirty word among many people but we work to make movement more fun, challenging and natural.

Why do you think kids should get involved from an early age?
Because the more time they spend in the system, the more we can positively influence them towards optimal health and fitness.

We make being healthy, cool.

What kind of diet should parents look at providing their kids?
The modern day use of the word ‘diet’ is flawed. The real meaning of diet comes from the Greeks and means life-long. It is not some temporary effort. I think parents should lead through their own actions.

As a father, my inspiration is to lead my son. I have to be brutally honest with parents who make poor choices themselves but expect their kids to eat well. As for nutrition, my suggestion is that they get creative with plenty of vegetation, fruit, fish, eggs, meat and some nuts or seeds.

We have been provided all the foods we require from nature.

What’s the ideal day in the life of a kid these days in terms of fitness and food?
Before we worry about fitness, health should be our priority. Does your child sleep enough in a technology-free environment? Does your child have time to be creative and play? I see kids being shouted at in organised sport and they are only five years old! They need to be outside and having plenty of fun in nature. We are also seeing more students who are vitamin D deficient. There needs to be enough smart sun exposure every day. I am not promoting tanning, simply enjoying natural circadian rhythm. Once you have your health in check, then look at your fitness.

What do the children need to bring to classes?
The students must bring a water bottle and post-session natural snack. They should always display the ‘Five Ps’ too.

How and when do the sessions take place?
The sessions run with the school term. They run at 3pm and 4.30pm through the week and at 10.30am on a Saturday. Prices depend on how frequently a student attends. Students are welcome to join as long as there is space available.
Register by visiting or call Craig personally on 3947 3710 to book a complimentary session today.

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