The name Ziggy Darwish has played a major role in shaping the Dubai fitness scene.
After serving six years as a Gunnery sailor in the Royal Australian Navy, Darwish started his fitness journey as a personal trainer in 2004 working out of the best gyms in Melbourne, back in his native Australia.
He was kept busy with a blue riband clientele, training the who’s who of Melbourne’s elite including police commissioners and judges.
But in 2006 he was approached by a fitness company wanting to introduce boot camps to Dubai. They needed someone with a military background – enter Ziggy.
Darwish was missing his time at sea, travelling the world, so he hopped on a plane to the UAE.
His first experience, like most visitors, was: “Wow!” But it wasn’t the bright lights, fancy restaurants, or clubs that caught his attention, it was the lack of fitness professionals and gyms. Back then Dubai basically had no fitness industry.
There was no Fitness First, no Crossfit, no M45 – just a few trainers doing their own thing.
“I wanted the UAE to get the best kick-start in fitness” recalls Darwish. “No gimmicks like you see now with magic pills and creams. The goal was to get people to train right, eat right and do it with the end goal of having a happy community being health conscious.
“My overall philosophy on health and fitness is keep it simple: find an activity you enjoy and eat right…90 per cent food, 10 per cent exercise.”
After just three weeks in Dubai, Ziggy and his partners got a call from the now defunct 7DAYS asking about his boot camps.
A week later he took the whole staff of 7DAYS for a bootcamp and after a massive write-up, the phones didn’t stop ringing for a year. Thousands of Dubai expats and locals joined up for Darwish’s four-week courses.
Dubai got its first taste of ‘Ziggy-style’ fitness and they loved it.
Darwish then moved on to a new company called Fitness 02, which has played a large part in shaping the fitness industry in the UAE.
From the first boot camps at Ski Dubai, the first international diabetes walkathon day, training multi-national corporations, kids fitness boot camps, football camps; Darwish and his team of ten trainers had the UAE covered in all areas of health and fitness.
But several years later, after running the fitness company, having a TV show, doing radio interviews and events, Darwish was burnt out.
“Running a company, dealing with trainers, staff, marketing, balancing the books, thinking three steps ahead of the competition took a massive toll on me,” he explains.
“I almost forgot how to love the craft and found myself focusing only on the ruthless side of business. And that was the beginning of the end of my fitness career – for a while at least.”
Ziggy took a few years off where he wrote a book on fitness, wrote and produced a feature film and continued to train a few clients while he watched the local fitness industry explode.
“Back when I started there was nothing, now you can do anything. You want to do MMA you have ten gyms to choose from, boot camps – hundreds, gyms – hundreds. Dubai has everything.”
Missing his boot camp days Ziggy decided to go back to where it all began – as a one-on-one personal trainer.
But Darwish found the clientele had changed considerably since he first started, with people looking for a much more holistic approach to fitness rather than a quick fix.
He also found a strong trend in Arabic women seeking fitness.
“Everyone has a different goal,” explains Darwish. “I have clients who are looking for weight loss, a client getting ready for a marathon, another to learn Muay Thai. I even train a little Irish lad who wants to be the next Conor McGregor!”
He says Dubai also has its own challenges to someone wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“Training in Dubai is a lot harder for a trainer as clients have too many options to go off the rails,” he says, “with travel, work, brunches etc. So I work out a program for the body, food and lifestyle.”
“I love to help people who want to get results, if you want to train I’m here for you. You want to achieve a goal like climbing Mt. Everest let’s do it…I’m ready to train people who want to change their lives or people who need a challenge to mix things up and keep life interesting.”
He also has found time to start up the Muay Thai Muppets with good friend and professional Muay Thai boxer Jason Woodham.
The desire to become healthier is increasing day by day.
Over the years there has been a significant increase in people becoming health conscious across the world and the UAE is not far behind.
According to a 2016 Nielsen global survey, more than two-thirds of respondents in the UAE (67%) and Saudi Arabia (66%) said they actively make dietary choices to help prevent health conditions.
But people don’t just want to eat healthier; they are also looking to lead a more healthy lifestyle.
From the gym to CrossFit to yoga or even Zumba, old and young are adopting all forms of new and different workout options to stay fit.
An increasing number of people in the UAE, for example, are opting for CrossFit, a strength and conditioning programme characterised by a mix of aerobic exercises, body-weight training and Olympic weightlifting.
But while it’s great to introduce strength and weight training into your fitness regime, you must also remember that this intensive fitness training can sometimes lead to injuries if adequate preventive measures are not taken.
“Shoulder and neck injuries are common amongst athletes” says Dr Ali Al Suwaidi, consultant orthopedic surgeon at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi.
“While wrist injuries, particularly tendinitis around the wrist joint are less frequent, occasional rupture of the Pectoralis muscle of the shoulder occurs, mostly among body builders.”
However, often people are not even aware of the damage they are doing, confusing these joint injuries with muscle cramps.
“Muscle cramp is usually localised, involving the muscles and can be due to too much stress or tension,” continues Dr Ali.
“Symptoms of muscle cramps include weakness in the localised area, coordination problems between the affected muscle and the rest of the body, when the muscle is stretched due to some physical activity the pain increases, such as a calf strain.”
“However, joint injury is the injury that happens to the articulation of two or more bones. The pain in this case is deeper and intense and can happen even if a person is at rest.”
Working out requires well-toned and strong muscles all over the body. Therefore, people who are not fit or are overweight should start slow and get the body accustomed to working out and gradually move to intensive training.
“Always warm up before you start the workout and start slowly with weights,” adds Dr Ali. “The gradual progression of mild exercises to more strenuous exercises is important. In case of weight training, start with light weights and progress gradually.”
When performing strenuous exercises like CrossFit, working closely with a sports trainer is highly recommended. But you should also make sure you are listening to your body and how it feels.
Be persistent but also give your body time to adapt to the stress it is facing during the workout. According to Dr Ali: “It’s imperative to communicate closely with your trainer as he/she has to know your weaknesses, abilities and goals.
“Know when to stop if you experience muscle or joint pain. Most importantly, do not compare yourself with others around you and overload yourself; listen to your body and how it responds.
“In case of injuries, first just rest, and use ice compressions, and take analgesics. If the pain is severe, then the limb should be immobilised. If after a few weeks the injury is not getting better, it is advisable to be examined by a physician.”
Exercising regularly along with following a vigorous and balanced diet is not only essential for a healthy living, but it can also be life-saving in the long run.
If spending hours in the gym and making basic lifestyle modifications aren’t enough for you in your quest for your desired physique, technological advancements have given us some shortcuts to get ahead in the fitness game – Cryolipolysis being one of them.
Cryolipolysis is a body contouring treatment that gets rid of cellulite and stubborn fat by exposing it to extremely low temperature.
Internationally acclaimed and approved by the CE and the FDA, the procedure is still relatively new in the region, but is said to have produced positive results for a lot of people.
Preeta Kiran Anchan, an entrepreneurial nutritionist successfully runs a wellness facility called KYP Holistic and Ladies’ Beauty Centre, which is currently one of the only two places in Dubai that provide Cryolipolysis treatment.
Preeta has 19 years of experience in nutrition planning and management, and is a prolific contributor to the fitness and health community of the UAE.
After introducing the treatment in her wellness centre a little over a year ago, it was an instant hit amongst her clients who were really satisfied with the results after undergoing the sessions.
“The treatment was introduced exactly a year and a half back and it’s doing great. Clients are extremely happy and we have a constant demand for its feel-good factor and result delivery. we have seen excellent results on skin fold fat reduction up to 30 mm in a single package,” she said.
The science behind the procedure is to freeze the cells until they are in a dormant state in the body and stay that way for a while in the body.
The frozen fat cells are then metabolized and expelled out of the body via the lymphatic system.
“The cooling technology along with the intra-ferential therapy that is applied by the zircon plates on the subcutaneous fat layer that will penetrate up to -5 degrees of temperature.
“This process leads the cells to a temporary frozen state and the effect stays till eight to ten days temporarily Frozen cells help eliminate the disintegrated fats in to the lymphatic system to be utilized and eliminated by the body with other toxins,” Preeta explained.
Exposure to such an extreme temperature may be slightly uncomfortable in the beginning and some of the side effects include feelings of numbness in the affected area and slight bruising, which usually subsides in a few days.
Even though there are no long-term side effects associated with the procedure, after this treatment there is a possibility that the fat cells may come back with a vengeance, so it is essential to follow a healthy diet plan and an active lifestyle to maintain and augment the results of the treatment.
She added: “The basics of a healthy and fit body is majorly influenced by our intake and output. Diet nutrition lifestyle pattern is a lifelong change which can be incorporated with our professional support.”
The number of sessions depend on the level of fat deposits and is given out after a thorough analysis of the body.
Preeta recommends at least six to eight sessions in order to see a perceptible difference and appears quite satisfied with the success rate of the treatment.
What: Cryolipolysis at KYP Holistic and Ladies’ Beauty Centre
Where: Al Nahda 1st, Al Mulla Plaza, Dubai
Cost: AED299 per session
Verdict: a worthwhile shortcut to try to achieve a desired physique
For more information, visit www.kypcare.com