Diaspora Feature Story

FITNESS & HEALTH 101 Of the Idiot, By the Idiot and For One Idiot, like such ONLY!

kleo desert quips


Why oh why?!!

ONE may believe that here in the Middle East, it is very easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle.

Despite government, community, and private sectors’ efforts to promote fitness, individuals still get infected by this “sitting disease.” Why not? Most parts of the region are populated largely by working expats or locals who are business owners; they have the right to the excuse of not having time and/or being too exhausted to bother about their own fitness and health after their long working hours.

The list of things to do in one’s free time is too long; sweating on a treadmill is way down that list if ever included at all. The expat and local family members who might have the time though would rather enjoy the many “more entertaining” activities these gulf countries offer: shopping, playing computer/TV games, busying themselves with their expensive gadgets and eating; yes eating and talking while sipping tea or coffee with fruits, nuts and sweets on the side for extended hours on those luxurious and very comfortable cushions on thickly carpeted floors in a majlis (sitting area in Arabic houses; translates literally to “A place of sitting”). These are far more appealing than working out with strangers in a gym.

Eating should top the list whether it is at home, in restaurants, parks or in cars. Well, one does not have to be Einstein to say that eating (delightful congenial eating!) and as most men I know would say, “just farting around” with not much of physical activity leads to, well, a life of just that, desk bound and inactive; not very fit nor very healthy.

There are those, of course, on the other side of the story (some of them, extremely on the other side), people who take the time and effort to take care of their health and fitness or go to facilities for the same, for varied reasons and sometimes encourage those around them to do the same.

Going to the gym or fitness center means many things for many people.

You might find Saud on a bench press because he is a body building enthusiast; Gerrard pumps it out in the gym because he has been doing it a third of his life and likes the muscleman he sees in the mirror. Have you seen Muneeb’s Instagram? Eternally in the gym doing selfies while working out! Teresa keeps her lean and toned physique and wants it for good.

Osama has been dragged by his friends to get a membership in the club and that is where they converge, working out, chilling, figuring out where they would go for the next adventure. Andrea thought she’d lose inches of the belly fat if she replaced trips to her church by religiously going to the Ladies’ Fitness Center; close to her office which is also next to a row of fast-food outlets that she frequently finds herself in to reward herself after the long tiring hours of aerobics with her friends Victoria and Raine.

Roshan, Marlon and Arnel show up in the gym most of the time in their mostly astonishing colorful sports garbs because they think that’s where they could scam for their next date. Janet has been trying to gain weight and doctors suggested that she sees a physical trainer too for a fitness plan in gaining weight; Janet is still at it in the gym but not for the same reason anymore, the gym instructor is a very very very (3 very’s quoted from Janet) good, charming, and gorgeous motivator! She actually gained weight but mostly in the middle, expected to come out after 9 months.

Alex is a hotel’s basketball coach (aside from being a restaurant Assistant Manager), hence, the endeavor to show his team how to keep in form, to the gym he goes with them. Lourdes, Anita and Aileen love their workout sessions followed by sauna; their girl time-out chatting and taking some time away from the demanding tasks waiting for them at home, there’s a bit of gossip injected there too. Sepalee’s way of keeping fit after work is attending yoga with her yuppie glam young adult children. She demands it from them to give them some time away from work and as quality family time together.

Angelica, Malka, Tamirin, Mohammed, Aziz, Gabriel and Jojo go to the gym individually and sometimes in group because the company they work for has provided its employees with fitness center memberships as it is believed that healthy and fit employees make for a more productive workforce; the opportunity is there so they avail of it. There are those who won’t fail their swimming or gym appointments for medical reasons. People like yours truly, fall in this category.

“If you do not exercise, Maria, your liver will retain the fatty deposits and will in due time fail to do its job… your heart will not pump properly… your blood pressure will always be high and…” Exercise! Exercise!

Now that we have established that there may be different underlying reasons why people DO and DON’T go the extra mile to keep fit and/or healthy, I invite you to please read on as I embark on my newest journey. THE ROAD TO FITNESS or whatever that may be as I truly don’t understand much of it but am sort of more forced than motivated in what seems to be my daily routine now.

Maybe you will find the story of this newbie similar to yours, possibly familiar, or perhaps it could prepare you, should you be planning to start your own fitness program. Rest assured, you are not alone. Some will tackle going to the gym or fitness center/club confidently and will be well guided. Some will unfortunately… and unbelievably, be such dolts about the whole thing, uhhrm, like me. Don’t despair! Things improve, your willingness to work out for fitness and health included.


Part 2

The Gym, the Frog and the Chicken

Kleo Hernandez-Kannangara
Kleo has a Communication Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines which she earned in 1986. She lives in the United Arab Emirates and is married to a Sri Lankan. She has four children, all of whom were born at the UAE. She describes her self as a “stay-at-home mom” who’s always on the road doing errands for everyone, and an “inspirational’ writer which according to her means "I write when inspired by a person, place or event."

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