A fitness wave is sweeping across the Sultanate with young men and women flocking to the several hi-tech health clubs and fitness centres to get in shape.
The trend is welcome news for the nation which is battling an obesity menace. For Mazen Al Khamis, just 30 and working as an electrical engineer, this has really worked. He was around 100 kg and began going to the gym. Over the last few years, he has not only succeeded in trimming himself to 78 kg, but has also given up sugar and soft drinks. “I begin with the treadmill and later do some weights,” he told Oman Tribune.
Horizon Fitness CEO Daniel McRae said that people made it to the gym for a variety of reasons like body building and losing weight. “Women want a shape change. We have qualified and experienced trainers advising them on a healthy lifestyle,” he says.
He pointed to a case of a person in Salalah who weighed 110kg and needed sticks and a wheel chair to move. He has lost 20- 30kg and now walks freely.
About the rush, he says business has grown since it began in 1997 and now there are 26 branches. “We have a wide range of programmes for different needs and these are budget gyms that cost 50-60 per cent less than others in the region. Omanis account for 60 per cent of our members,” he said.
Flex Fitness operations manager Ala Moumani says, “Most members join for the aerobics classes to increase fitness and lose weight, some for body building. We have memberships for periods ranging from one month to a year.”
Membership numbers of nationals and expatriates are on the rise, and the centre is to add two more branches to its four, he says.
Ali Al Hatmi, aged 27, works as a quantity survey engineer. He joined the gym to stay healthy and fit. “I am working out to get a flat stomach, lose some weight and get stronger,” he says, adding that he is to get married soon and will be back to the gym once the celebrations are over.
Going beyond health clubs, many have taken to martial arts. Sensei Simson of the Ko-In Chi Academy says fast food culture and sedentary lifestyle force people to think about ways to stay healthy. Martial arts are about mental and physical fitness that can be achieved though a disciplined style of hard work.