My UAE: Getting into shape with Iman Al Omrani

The 37-year-old IT professional is in no rush to slow down, even after giving birth to her third child last year. For the career--orientated mother, it has reinforced her commitment to a healthy lifestyle and motivating other Emirati mothers to be the same. Al -Omrani recently set up -Curvalicious, a women-only fitness studio in Dubai with a focus on Emirati women.

Iman Al Omrani at her fitness studio, Curvalicious, in Nadd Al Hamar, Dubai. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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As soon as the clock strikes 4pm, Iman Al Omrani races across town from her Expo 2020 Dubai office in Jebel Ali to Nadd Al Hamar, where she’s overseeing her passion project gradually take shape.

The 37-year-old IT professional is in no rush to slow down, even after giving birth to her third child last year. For the career-­orientated mother, it has reinforced her commitment to a healthy lifestyle and motivating other Emirati mothers to be the same. Al ­Omrani recently set up ­Curvalicious, a women-only fitness studio in Dubai with a focus on Emirati women.

“When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I wasn’t fit at all,” Al Omrani says. “And from the sixth month, I was told not to work. Even with my second child, I tried staying fit, but I got lazy and couldn’t do anything. This time around, I exercised three times a week until my last day and it made a huge difference.”

Curvalicious was born out of her experience of not having a mentor when she felt like giving up on her health goals.

“We often tend to drift, join fitness clubs, but a lot of people don’t know what to do,” she says. “Many gym members also tend to overtrain, but don’t see results because they aren’t doing it right. During my pregnancy, I realised that you don’t need to beat yourself up six to seven times a week to be healthy. Three days are enough if you are doing it right. You can’t be doing cardio all the time or doing weight training without some conditioning. That’s what we want to educate Emirati women about.”

The two coaches hired by Al ­Omrani will focus on small group sessions to provide individualised attention and teach barbell lifts and body weight strength movements.

While the gym welcomes all women, she hopes the privacy of the facility will also encourage older Emirati women to ­exercise.

“We live in a society where diabetes is an epidemic and even kids are classified as obese,” she says. “So my gym will create more awareness through health workshops.”

Women who join will have their fitness levels evaluated, then functional training group workouts will be scaled according to their ability.

Al Omrani says juggling a full-time job, motherhood and her business hasn’t been easy, but she craves a challenge.

“You need to be ready for any­thing, and a positive attitude is necessary,” she says. “Training helps me keep my sanity and gives me the energy I need to carry on.”

The studio, which is currently in its soft-launch stage, already has a committed clientele ranging from those in their early 20s through to 40-year-old Emirati mothers.

“Our oldest member joined recently and she hadn’t worked out a single day in her life before that,” Al Omrani says. “But she is so dedicated now that she comes every day to the gym. This is what I want. This is how I see the success of my studio, that these women take this one as a lifestyle. That feels like I have achieved something.”

What’s your one essential gym-bag item?

A water bottle – I never leave home without it.

What’s the biggest myth about women who lift weights?

That they are going to end up looking like guys. Unless you are on steroids, that is never going to happen.

If you were a superhero, what superpower would you want?

I am already a superhero, being a mother.

What was the last holiday destination you visited?

Koh Samui in Thailand.

Where do you go to unwind in Dubai?

I go to the Lime Spa at Desert Palm Resort in Dubai.

What’s your favourite cafe in Dubai?

I prefer eating at home, so I can make sure it’s clean. I meal-prep every Saturday so my food is ready for the week.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Set yourself a dream and go get it.

What exercise do you hate the most?

Burpees. Who likes them?

aahmed@thenational.ae