There are a lot of articles floating about recently in Qatar, talking about diabetes & obesity in the GCC. Let me steal some figures here, but according to Doha News, 42.3% of adults in Qatar are obese. I can only imagine what that figure would be if they included the children I’ve seen waddling out of ‘Dip n Dip’ in the Pearl.
Since moving to Qatar in 2013 I have gained 15kg! And it has crept on so slowly I didn’t even notice until I found myself in a changing room, trying on my usual size and getting stuck. After wiggling myself into all sorts of contortionist positions I finally managed to escape, sweaty and traumatised.
That was the moment I decided to improve my fitness, it’s obviously an idea that has entered my thoughts now and again but usually when anyone mentions exercise my eyes glaze over and my brain freezes.
So getting to the point of fitness in Qatar, there are a lot of hotels with fitness facilities for guests – I’ve never actually understood this because when I go on holiday, the last thing I want to do is exercise / put my body into a state of stress or despair.
Some hotels have amazing facilities and some hotels don’t.
As great/terrible as these facilities are, there is a heavy price tag related to the membership and, even after bankrupting yourself with membership, you still have to pay for the class! This is a great business idea, equal in genius to selling 1 riyal Rayyan water from Carrefour for 15 riyals in a restaurant.
I settled eventually for doing classes and grabbing the ‘National sports day’ offer from Mövenpicks hotel, where I managed to get a 1 year membership for 2500 riyals.
The classes are at Sheraton Hotel and I give this place 4.5 stars for their health centre! I love this place, it’s very beautiful. The gym especially is spacious with numerous machines and, whilst running on the treadmill cursing your body for being so unfit, you have a lovely serene view of the sea. (I know this from looking around since I can’t actually afford to use their gym!)
The missing half star is because the swimming pool is far by my lazy standards, you have to walk a substantial distance, either through the hotel or around it. It’s worth it though because of the hammocks and relaxing Jacuzzi also with a sea view.
Recently Sheraton hotel has introduced classes by a New Zealand company called Les Mills – So far I have tried:
Body Pump, Body Balance and Body attack. I could write a whole blog post on each of these but I will just mention the main one that killed me. Body attack!
I had my Fitbit on at the time and my heart rate shot up to 175bpm as I jumped, shuffled, jumped some more and almost died.
Luckily I have a great fitness buddy and she persuaded me to keep going, it’s been just over 4 weeks and my fitness level has improved impressively. I only realised this the other day when Sheraton offered a free Les Mills taster session for body attack and CX Works (another deadly Les Mills class).
Although, as usual, this was poorly advertised, there were many people there and it was thoroughly entertaining watching their faces turn from naïve enthusiasm to panic as they looked for a way to discretely escape. I, on the other hand, had a smile fixed on my face as I found myself completing the hour more easily than I did before so I thoroughly recommend this class!
I also do the Zumba class at Sheraton Friday mornings – again the ocean view just makes the experience that much more pleasant. The instructor has a lot of energy and I usually burn around 550-600 calories and get around 6000 steps per class!
VIEW FROM MY ZUMBA CLASS
My fitness journey is just starting and I look forward to trying out more things and hopefully I’ve inspired you to try these classes.
If, however, you have my earlier attitude of seeing exercise as a punishment and happen to have a pocket full of riyals, then Sheraton have also introduced something called ‘Body Xpress’ which uses ‘Electric Muscle Stimulation’ (EMS training) to apparently give your body the benefit of 3 hours’ worth of exercise in 20 minutes.
I was told during my free trial that this comes with a price tag of 200 riyals for the 20 minutes. It involves wearing a tight black outfit (provided by them), getting strapped up, mission impossible style, into a wet suit and doing things like squats, jumping jacks & bicep curls whilst the body suit ‘stimulates’ your muscles – for me it felt like a million little needles gently poking me.
Anyway that’s it for now, I’m feeling like a sales person for Sheraton hotel but it really is nice there.
Would love to hear your thoughts/comments if you have tried any other fitness classes around Doha.