Keep your Dubai Fitness Challenge going with Manal Rostom
There's no such thing as an 'ideal weight or 'body type' says the trainer
WHEN IT COMES to the Dubai Fitness Challenge there are no excuses not to get your 30 minutes of exercise in every day for a month. However, we know more than most, at this point a couple of weeks in motivation to get out there can be waning. This is where a word from fitness icon, personal trainer and wellness influencer Manal Rostom comes in handy. The Dubai-based Egyptian hit headlines earlier this year as a face for encouraging young women, in particular those who wear hijabs, to become more active. We caught up with Rostom to find out how she wound up in the world of fitness and what keeps her going.
When did you decide fitness was going to play a major part in your life and go from a hobby to part of your career?
I was always athletic from a very young age. It became a part of my career in 2013 when I got certified as a group exercise instructor and was doing fitness as a side-hustle besides my nine-to-six pharma job. I shifted careers in 2016 when I was made redundant. A big thanks to the universe there I guess for helping me finally follow my calling! I decided to give it a go and have been a full time personal trainer and health & wellness influencer on social media since then.
What would your advice be to make that first step on their fitness journey during Dubai 30x30?
Challenge a friend and just go to one of the more than 5000 fitness classes around the city that are currently offered for free. That friend will be your guardian angel to make sure you get your 30 minutes in every day.
How do the workout clothes you wear and equipment you use affect/ help your training?
Strictly-no-cotton can highly impact your workout. Make sure you wear Dri-Fit material when working out to help you get rid of the sweat quickly and effectively. Make sure you look good working out! It highly impacts your workout when you feel good in what you wear. I also find that my Apple Watch offers the right support I need to keep me on track and motivated to be active. Ten years ago, we had no smart watches to measure our heart rate, calories burnt, distance run, or just to motivate us to get up. When you go out and set out smart goals, some of them must be measurable. When you know what's happening during a workout, it keeps you motivated and helps you understand how hard you are pushing. And that's why my Apple Watch is an essential part of my fitness journey. To date, I have ran six marathons with my device, (Muscat , Cairo , Berlin , Chicago , Boston & London) - so it's super special to me! It always helps to understand how far you ran, what pace, and how many calories you burnt. So next time you're out on a run, you might want to push harder and go longer.
Do you think we embrace fitness enough or would you like to see more being done?
I would say a Dubai Fitness Challenge every other month would be amazing! People tend to get super motivated and encourage each other to get into a healthy lifestyle. The fact that there's always something happening, someone always talking about an upcoming challenge or an upcoming race - there's something tailored for everyone. It's easy to get pushed in a good, healthy way!
Who are your fitness personality inspirations and why?
Evolve Nation - she's a BEAST!
Fitter Stronger - redefining what it's like to be 50 and healthy and fit as ever.
Faisal PMA Fitness - I just love his vibe.
Do you have any healthy eating restaurants you could recommend?
Surf Cafe has a great vibe and Projeto Açaí has the best poke and acai bowls in town !
Do you follow any particular diet to stay in shape in tandem with your workout regime?
I lean towards a vegetarian/vegan diet five out of seven days a week. I take in minimal carbs or the right ones when there's a hard workout with loads of fruits and veggies. I drink loads of water. No fizzy drinks! I'll have one cheat meal a week...usually a big one!
What do you believe is the biggest myth surrounding staying in shape you'd like to dispel once and for all?
That there's an ideal weight or body shape. You can always work on toning up, but you also must learn that genetics will play a very strong factor and you need to accept your body at all times. If you're healthy and fit then that's all that matters.
Much has been made about your efforts to play sports while wearing a hijab, how do you think the conversation on the subject went and what changes did you witness?
So many girls who wear the hijab are being brought into the spotlight. Girls like Zeina Nassar and Zahra Lari are also redefining what it means to train and compete in an international championship. More brands are embracing inclusivity and supporting these athletes - something I would like to see more of.
We still stand out but I dream of the day when it does not have to impact what sport you play whether you cover or not.