Over the weekend, thousands of UAE residents stopped by the fourth annual Weight Loss Show in Dubai to learn how to replace their bad eating habits with better choices and healthier lifestyles. Held at the Dubai International Marine Club, the two-day-long event attracted close to 15,000 attendees, according to Niousha Ehsan, the event director at Link Viva Events and Exhibitions Conferences.
At least 50 exhibitors covered all topics and offered demos related to weight loss. Expert speakers, including nutritionists and doctors, conducted free seminars on a variety of subjects including understanding food labels, the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and managing stress.
Beware of quick fixes
The event was not about “quick fixes”, says Ehsan. It instead aimed to explain “marketing scams” while providing accurate information and solutions.
“There are many misconceptions in health and fitness. Every day there’s a new diet or new pills introduced. We provide education and consultation with the experts,” said Ehsan. “There are no ‘healthy diets’; it should be ‘healthy eating’ because it’s changing habits – a lifestyle change. There are no quick fixes, it’s about small consistent changes.”
Those wishing to make a positive change can start by taking daily decisions and asking: how is this helping or hurting me?
“The health and fitness industry has improved but there are some marketing scams. For example, one of the seminars discusses the rules and regulations regarding organic foods and identifying the ingredients on labels,” says Ehsan. “There are also more fitness clubs in the UAE because people are now, more than ever, conscious of the benefits of being active.”
Bring in the new
One new fitness centre is Tribe Fit, which despite not yet opening its doors at the Silverene Tower in Dubai Marina, has seen more than 400 residents already registered, according to Ryan Cheal, the general manager.
The 23,000 sq ft space is set to be one of the largest in Dubai once it opens at the end of this month and promises to be more than just your typical gym. Having worked in the health and fitness industry for much of his life, Cheal felt there was something missing in Dubai.
“It’s about being socially active. People can come in, grab a coffee at the healthy cafe, enjoy our regular new members evenings and movie nights,” says Cheal. “When people go to the gym, they do not often interact that much together, so now they can come and meet new people, arrange to meet friends there and we provide lots of off-site activities such as rugby and paddle boarding.”
Tribe Fit offers eight training zones including free weights, yoga, a spinning studio, boxing, and a cardio zone.
One of the popular speakers during the event was Bernadette Abraham, a Canadian national and long-time health and fitness expert, who is launching the B Wellness Retreat in the UAE in March.
According to Abraham, the three-day monthly retreat will be the first in the Emirates and has already attracted plenty of interest. Taking place at various resorts in the UAE, the retreat offers daily health and nutrition talks, sessions, organic meals, cooking workshops, leisure excursions, meditation and image consultancy.
The mother of four also regularly posts online videos and articles.
“There’s a big market for the wellness retreat because you can also use it to unwind and relax. It’s for women who want to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle and leave equipped and informed,” says Abraham.Her seminars included Become a Food Label Detective and Is Organic Food a Waste of Money.
“My advice is to concentrate on fresh produce, stay away from food claiming to be healthy and become a food detective. Anything that has a label should not be part of one’s eating plan,” she says. “This is because labels can be very misleading so examine the ingredients.”
Also advising residents to make conscious decisions are the Dubai-based The Wellness Brothers, Sean and Ryan Penny, who will introduce new flavours to their Lean 95 whole food vegan meal replacement shakes powder in coming weeks. The product, introduced last year, is sold at the Organic Foods Cafe. The ABC Fat Loss Programme provides packages that include tips on eating, movement and motivation.
The brothers have also written books including No Sweat and Something Bigger.
“There are three things one needs to do: reduce calorie intake in a healthy way, move more and keep doing those two things,” says Ryan. “It’s very easy to change mindset. Lifestyle change produces physical change. Our methodology is always wellness first.”