Striking the right balance is vital to maintaining your fitness while you fast during Ramadan.
Building up a successful health regimen requires structure and a daily routine, which can easily be disrupted during the month-long period.
Samer Farag, Club General Manager and Personal Trainer at Fitness First, can offer a personal insight into how to stay fighting fit while you fast.
Farag has himself fasted for years and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and know-how on how to stay in peak condition.
Farag says one of the keys to success is tailoring your routine during Ramadan.
He explains: “My workout is completely different in Ramadan."
Instead of pausing all exercise, he understands the reality and importance of training throughout this period.
“I change my routine by staying away from cardio and high intensity workouts. Instead, I drop my weights to 30 per cent of what they normally are.”
Rather than avoiding exercise, as a lot of people tend to do during Ramadan, Samer uses the month as a time to ‘shred’.
“Due to the lower calorie intake, it is a great time to burn more fat and be in great, cutting shape. I use it to get six-pack ready for the beach. I advise my clients to drop to two-to-three reps when lifting as not only will they stay in shape but they will lose fat as well.”
In order to achieve this, good nutrition and sleep are key, says Samer. “If you leave your workout to two-to-three hours after eating your body can handle weights as it is full of energy, but you need to have the right amount of carbs, minerals and protein for a quick recovery period.
“Leave yourself plenty of hours to sleep before suhoor as this allows your muscles time to recover and to retain the vitamins and supplements that are so important to your training at this time.”
Farag advises eating something light for the stomach and drinking plenty of water.
Farag says timing is important and pinpoints the importance of listening to your own body.
Farag says: “Our bodies are all programmed to work differently so find out what time of day works best for your body by listening to it. I have to change my timings, as I don’t always have full energy during fasting.
"I can work out after iftar or before suhoor when I have had a small meal. Fitness First clubs open later during the holy month of Ramadan, up to 1am in some clubs, so there’s really no room for excuses for our members.”
The fitness guru reveals that the first handful of sessions during Ramadan can be taxing – so make sure to take it easy.
The body will soon rise to the challenge, though, so don’t give up as soon as the going gets tough.
Fager has worked at Fitness First for 11-years and has seen the gyms popularity significantly increase during Ramadan over the years.
He adds: “My first Ramadan at the club was empty, however, year-by-year the mentality of people has changed as they understand the importance of exercise and actually enjoy it.”
Last year, Fager spent Ramadan in Abu Dhabi and says the club was full every night after 9pm.
He has noticed a real sense of community develop over the years at Fitness First and group exercise classes have become particularly popular.
“Group exercise is really successful over Ramadan because you can generally work at your own level and the group motivate each other to come. After iftar, ladies prefer zumba class or body attack as they love to dance. ”
Samer also recommends T.U.F.F, one of Fitness First’s signature classes as it allows people to easily adapt the exercises and weights to their level.
Here are Samer’s three top tips to help stay fit during Ramadan:
Create new habits - Ramadan is about breaking bad habits, and not just for 30-days. Create new habits in the blessed month. Get into the habit of avoiding heavy food and sugars and drinking lots of water.
Keep going to the gym – It is very important to keep your shape. If you put exercise on hold for the month, you will lose your shape.
Timing – See what works best for your body and re-adjust your timings for Ramadan if you need to.