Good news for Dubai gym-goers: 30 mins, 3 times a week should get results

Half an hour of exercise a day, three times a week, should be enough to garner results - as long as you are taking a holistic approach to your health, says James Heagney, founder of D5 Executive Gym

Working out at Courtesy D5 Executive Gym. Courtesy D5 Executive Gym

You may be time-poor, but you can't use that as an excuse to not exercise regularly any more, thanks to the new Executive Express workout at DIFC's D5 Executive Gym. The high-intensity class offers a full-body workout for small groups of between four and six people, at the convenient timings of 1pm and 7pm, Sunday to Thursday.

"We are trying to maximise the efficiency of the workout," says James Heagney, D5 founder and head coach. "You can leave your desk, train for 30 minutes, get a protein shake on your way out and be back at your desk within an hour. So we're removing that barrier to exercise. People are always putting up barriers and that's part of our job – problem solving and removing those barriers."

For D5’s predominantly DIFC-based executive clientele, time is in short supply, as it is for many of us, but Heagney warns against using this as an excuse. “Everybody has the same amount of time, so time is not a great excuse. If I said: ‘If you can get up an hour earlier for one month solid, I’ll double your salary for a year’, I guarantee every single person would do it. Everybody does have time, they just choose not to spend it exercising. So from my perspective, I have to try to readdress that.”

And is 30 minutes really long enough to get results? “Absolutely, if you are doing the right thing. This is a scientifically based workout using different training methods,” says Heagney, who recommends we exercise up to three times a week for optimal results. “Two times a week would be more maintenance. If you train three times a week, you are going to get 33 per cent more, an extra third on that. You can make great progress with three times a week. You don’t really need to do more than that.

“If you really want to step things up, four days out of seven is more than enough. You don’t have to do six or seven days. Too many people think you need to train every day; you really don’t,” he says.

With an initial trial session offered free of charge and then 12 classes priced at only Dh1,500 (which works out at Dh125 per session), Executive Express is a way of opening up D5’s top-level services and world-class trainers to a greater number of people. As the name denotes, the trainers at D5 take a five-dimensional approach to health and fitness – and believe that what happens outside the gym is as important as what happens inside it.

“Most fitness programmes will be one-dimensional in nature,” Heagney explains. “But let’s say you come to the gym and we start training three or four times a week. While that’s a big commitment, it’s actually only three or four hours out of 168 hours in the week.

“For the five dimensions, firstly, we have the exercise component; secondly, there’s nutrition; then supplementation, looking at lab testing and blood work, so we’re seeing exactly what’s happening behind the scenes. Fourth is sports therapy. A client might have a sore back, hip or knee; we need to get you out of pain so you feel better and can move better. And the fifth one is education – teaching you as much as possible and having full transparency. We don’t want you to just follow what we’re doing, we want you to understand it. When you understand it, you’ll get much better results.”

The secret, Heagney says, is a highly individualised approach to health and fitness. “The gym is the visual part of it, but really we try to influence as many of those different dimensions, depending on what the client’s goal is. Some people need more of the education; some people need more from the nutrition perspective. Let’s say we train four times a week, that’s a huge commitment, but if you look at a seven-day period and think that people have three to four or even five meals a day, you are looking at between 30 and 40 feeding opportunities that will either move you closer to your goal, or farther away.”

The fact that food is such an integral part of the UAE lifestyle doesn't help. "You can get every single type of food delivered; there's a real abundance of food and food choices," Heagney says. "But the biggest challenge from a health perspective is how immobile everyone is."

In fact, if you want to do one thing to kick-start a healthier lifestyle, Heagney recommends you just start moving. “Get a step counter. That offers very direct feedback of how active you are and it’s very telling. If you are down below 3,000 steps per day, you really need to move. You are inactive and that is not going to be good for your health, full stop.

“Set yourself little goals. Walk to get yourself a coffee; walk around your apartment. People say you should aim for 10,000 steps a day, but that’s quite active. I’d say you should look at 50,000 steps a week. If for a few days your steps are low, you can make up for it on the weekend. You can say: ‘I’ll go for a big walk on Friday and a big walk on Saturday, because my health is a priority.’ If you go from 3,000 steps a day to 50,000 steps a week, I am telling you, you are going to feel better. And you haven’t spent a penny.”


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