Most people don’t realize that being healthy and working out is not just a temporary change in ones lifestyle to achieve temporary results. A diet is not a “I’m dieting to lose weight” kind of thing. A diet is a regimen, a way of life, that should be applied and practiced long term. Going to the gym should not be about losing weight and trying to target specific body parts for ones pleasure, but to workout ones body as to avoid health problems in the future. That is why I have found my new favorite person in Kuwait, with the exact same mind frame. Meet Abdullah Al-Askari, Kuwait’s health and fitness aficionado, targeting locals mindset and way of life and changing it for the better, one workout at a time!
Ghadeer Al-Otaibi: Could you please introduce yourself?
Abdullah Al-Askari: I think I have always had an interest in sports growing up. I played it in high school and college. I had a special interest in fitness and training after I moved back from the States. I started working with selective people for training and helping them with nutrition and diet, mind you with no charge at the time, and realized that there was a demand at the time, so I developed it as a business and became a freelancer from 2002 up until the day we opened Club Fit. I get a lot of pleasure from helping people achieve their goals, better health, and better wellness. I take pride in seeing the results, so I see my mission as seeing people get to their goals.
G.A.: What’s your educational background?
A.A.: My college degree is in business marketing, but I went back to school to get my Personal training certificate and nutrition degree from an institution called Private training association, which is based in California. So over a 4-year time frame, I attained four certificates from them.
G.A.: What made you start Club Fit?
A.A.: It was actually an idea I came up with walking on 5th avenue in New York, there was an ad for an underground gym, and I walked in and there was this small room with one trainer. Their flyer was an A4 paper advertising their services for however amount of dollars, and it clicked with me and I thought, why not open up a facility where people can come to us and we can customize and design their workout and nutrition for them. I mean, its really sad to say, throughout the years I’ve trained in Kuwait, a lot of places lack the knowledge and trainers. Uncertified people giving instructions to young guys as well as older ladies that they shouldn’t be giving out. I wanted to open something that was world wide in standards. And we opened up on May 5th 2011.
G.A.: I noticed you hire international, very qualified staff members. Why do you bring international help?
A.A.: Actually, our team was literally hand picked from over 100 plus resumes. Firstly, my prerequisites are that they are college graduates with a degree in sports sciences or something equivalent. They are also all professional ex-athletes, so not only have they studied it but also they have been through the training of what it is to be an athlete.
G.A.: Your gym is quite simple but with up-to-date state of the art equipment. Do you ever want to expand or are you satisfied with this style of gym?
A.A.: I think it takes a lot more than cardio and weight training for a client to achieve his/her goals. Of course expansion is in the plans for the future, but everything needs to be studied well. We may be small in size at the moment, but we have the nutrition facilities and gym facility capable of helping people achieve their goals.
G.A.: Is your gym a membership style gym or a one-on-one personal training?
A.A.: It is one-on-one. We truly do define the meaning of personal training as we assign you one trainer here and he is in charge of everything you do in the gym and outside of the gym. He will be responsible for your workout routines, when it needs to be changed/altered. He is also responsible for you with health issues and supplement recommendations. This is all done through monthly assessments so they can make sure you are getting the best service as well as the best regimen to help you achieve your goals.
G.A.: So you design packages individually for each client?
A.A.: Yes! We don’t do template workouts. For example, at most gyms, they have for weight loss, one program that is applied to all. At Club Fit, we treat each client as a separate case. We do a lot of research before we even start structuring a routine for each client. The more we get to know, the more information we have, the easier it gets to have a fitness solution. We sit as a team at times and discuss each client to be able to give him the best advice. Yes, everybody is different; therefore we treat each client as an individual and unique case.
G.A.: Kuwait has a very blurred idea about health and fitness, especially the youth. It is either really rapid muscle gain, or really rapid weight loss. What are your views on this?
A.A.: I think working out has to be a commitment. As a personal trainer, I can only do so much. Furthermore, it has to be a lifestyle. Our society is very dependent on others doing stuff for them, so that is why we have a habit of getting out of shape really fast and what not. Just the same way that one has to be committed to his work and family, one must have the same dedication to his working out and eating habits. That’s how being healthy starts, and once you get into the routine, you get adjusted and it becomes hard to shake off.
G.A.: Do you apply the same motto you tell your clients to yourself?
A.A.: Of course I do. A day in my life starts at 5am. I look at my agenda as I have my breakfast and see what it is I have to do during the day. I run around and go to meetings early in the morning. I get my workouts in between 10 and 11am, and then get back to business, and last but not least, I have clients from 4 to 9pm. Believe it or not, I try to sleep in sometimes, but the routine is set!
G.A.: What sports did you play? And are you more into the team sports aspect of things or individual work outs?
A.A.: High school I played basketball and volleyball. I continued with basketball in college with weight training. At the moment, I do mix martial arts twice a week as well as continuous weight training. And I like to do a little bit of both. The weight training is something I’ve been doing for 18years. I repaired injuries with it; I’ve excelled in sports from it. I’m a big believer in weights resistance. But I also enjoy the sporting aspect of things. I love working in a team, plus I have a competitive streak!
G.A.: Women in Kuwait have a huge misconception about weight training for women. Help me out here, because I cant get people to believe me that weight training for women will not turn them into Arnold Schwarzenegger!
A.A.: The prospective of weight training is taken in the wrong way. Half an hour of weight training or resistance training, you burn 3 times more calories than walking an hour on a treadmill, because the process of the muscle tearing and repairing itself burns more calories and more fat. Its very hard to build lean solid muscle, it takes years and sometimes it doesn’t happen on genetics, age, gender and all that. You can do cardio everyday, you will lose weight, but the shape of your body wont change the way you want it to change. Weights sculpt the body.
G.A.: What about steroid use in Kuwait?
A.A.: It's growing rapidly. It's sad to see. A lot of people refuse to workout, let alone walk into the gym without using the stuff. It’s a personal choice at the end of the day, but people should give themselves a chance to see what their body is capable of achieving. Everybody is looking for the quick fix. Lose weight fast, build muscle fast. People don’t understand the side effects and what these things do to your body in the long run.
G.A.: Now I know your gym is a male only gym, so when can we expect the women to join?
A.A.: Inshallah, hopefully, end of the year or by 2013, and we will be providing the same, if not better services as the men have. Inshallah, it’ll be bigger and better.
G.A.: Quick questions on the go, what’s your favorite meal?
A.A.: Sushi. Love sushi!
G.A.: Favorite drink?
A.A: Are we talking healthy or not healthy? Because I do non-healthy meals as well on my cheat days. So on my cheat days, I like to have burger and fries. Healthy drink, a protein shake, and a non-healthy drink… It has to be doctor pepper.