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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Alia ditches the tech but keeps up the workout in Ramadan

Keeping fit is more than just a passion, it is a part of Ms Sulaiman’s life that she will maintain during Ramadan.
Emirati businesswoman Alia Sulaiman likes to stay active during Ramadan. Antonie Robertson/The National
Emirati businesswoman Alia Sulaiman likes to stay active during Ramadan. Antonie Robertson/The National

DUBAI // Ramadan is a time for more spirituality, less technology and more physical exercise for Alia Sulaiman.

While timings may change, routines alter slightly, Ms Sulaiman says her life “doesn’t change too much”.

“I just automatically become more spiritual and feel closer to God during Ramadan,” said the 25-year-old Emirati.

At the end of last year, Ms Sulaiman left a stable job at Emirates to pursue her dream of opening a fitness studio, Rise Fitness Boutique which she runs with her sister, Hind.

Keeping fit is more than just a passion, it is a part of Ms Sulaiman’s life that she will maintain during Ramadan.

“Usually I break fast after I work out. I increase my cardio training during Ramadan to around an hour or an hour and a half because I feel it gives me the optimum energy and helps me burn more. I sometimes do yoga if I don’t feel as energetic but I force myself to do something.

“Just because you’re fasting it isn’t an excuse to stop being active in your daily life.”

Ms Sulaiman learnt this philosophy from a young age from an important role model.

“People tend to use Ramadan as an excuse but I’ve always done this and learned it from my mother. I see her workout in Ramadan as if it’s any other day. You just take it to lower intensity so you don’t get thirsty. People just need to know their limits.”

Coping with the unique challenges exercising during Ramadan brings is all about finding the right mindset. “In terms of energy, I think it’s all psychological. If you tell yourself you don’t have energy, your mind will tell your body you don’t have energy to do anything.”

For Ms Sulaiman, Ramadan is a time when she feels “calmer, dedicating more time to God”, a time to think before she speaks, to think of those who are forced to go without food and water because of poverty.

“We shouldn’t use feeling tired or feeling sluggish as an excuse not to exercise, because people with much less have to just get on with their daily lives,” she said.

“There are people living on the streets, people who work all day in the sun and they don’t complain, so why should we complain when we have all these daily necessities? Ramadan teaches us to be grateful for all this.”

Ramadan is a time when face to face connections become much more important and common

“You forget the phones and the things that don’t really matter, spend time with the people who really matter, your family, reconnecting with old friends,” she said. “You get to really connect with people, because in daily life I think people forget to have real conversations and technology is a daily distraction. Ramadan is, for me at least, a time spent further away from social media, away from the phone and technology, instead just spending time reading the Quran.”

mswan@thenational.ae