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| 15 June, 2018

UAE fitness sector booms as people get health-conscious

Demand for gym memberships and services such as personal fitness training sessions is on the rise

Image used for illustrative purpose.
Saudi Rehab Al Mahasnha runs on a treadmill with her colleagues as Reham Al Shaban (L) uses a stationary cycling machine during a warm-up before their morning training session in a local gym in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, April 21, 2018. Picture taken April 21, 2018.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Saudi Rehab Al Mahasnha runs on a treadmill with her colleagues as Reham Al Shaban (L) uses a stationary cycling machine during a warm-up before their morning training session in a local gym in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, April 21, 2018. Picture taken April 21, 2018.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

UAE - There is a growing interest among UAE residents to lead a healthier lifestyle, with demand for gym memberships and services such as personal fitness training sessions on the rise.

A combination of different factors such as better awareness about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, a desire to look fit and healthy and the increase in fitness-related content on social media is contributing to this rising interest, fitness experts and professionals say.

"These are exciting times for the fitness industry because people have an increased awareness about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and we are seeing gym memberships growing significantly," said Rory Sweetlove, COO of Gold's Gym UAE.

Staying fit and healthy and using a gym to improve your overall wellness is not just the preserve of the 20-somethings with time on their hands and a desire to look good, but it has become the aim of many different people, representing different age groups and cultures, he explained.

Mo Ismail, managing director at Mo2, also noted that there are several factors at work, saying: "People are realising that health and physical wellness are an essential part of their overall well-being and performance, both in and out of the gym. People have also been making more healthy decisions when it comes to their diet, so they are coupling that with physical training."

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"Generally speaking, people care about image; the better you look, the better you feel, and vice versa," he added. "In addition, the amount of content that residents consume on a daily basis, whether it is on TV or social media, heavily promotes training and proper nutrition, so many are generally inclined to follow the path of the ones they admire."

Sweetlove added that government initiatives such as the '30:30 Fitness Challenge' introduced by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, have resonated very strongly with residents and have done a great job of promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle. Businesses across the emirates have taken note of the trend and begun to offer perks such as gym memberships to their employees.

According to Bayt.com's 'Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa' poll, 96 per cent of polled respondents in the Middle East and North Africa region believe it is the employer's responsibility to support and promote their employees' health and wellness. Also, over 87 per cent of respondents claimed they will more likely exercise if their company offers a gym subscription. However, only 30 per cent said their companies provide fitness facilities or benefits to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Asked about fitness trends in the market, Sweetlove said that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and functional training is very popular, but at the same time the traditional and proven gym model remains consistently well-received. Customised training regimens are also in demand, where personal trainers devise the training programmes for an individual based on their age, current fitness levels and goals, he added.

"The use of technology to assist with training has picked up significantly as it positively impacts motivation levels and overall achievement," Sweetlove said. "We are currently looking at potential sites for new Gold's Gym clubs across the UAE in response to the growing market demand in the region. Parallel to this, we are also carrying out an extensive expansion and upgrading our clubs to meet growing demand from consumers."

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