Ahmed Elbahy never knew the feeling of being fit and healthy.
“I was always fat and almost my whole family was overweight," the 27-year-old engineer said.
"We all like to eat a lot; it is in our genes.
“Being fit was not our focus, I wasn’t raised to be like that.”
He weighed 150kg when he reached a turning point in his life in August 2019.
With a height of 175cm, the Abu Dhabi-born Egyptian said he was “over-obese”.
“I was suddenly fed up with the way I looked and the way people looked at me as a fat person; I couldn’t even be in a relationship,” Mr Elbahy said.
So he made “a final decision” to lose weight.
“Since August 2019 I have lost 62kg. It feels like I dropped another person from my body. Now I am 88kg.”
He started with a strict diet that was limited to liquids and chicken soup.
“I lost a lot of weight during the first month and that was a booster for me to do more,” Mr Elbahy said.
“I decided to join group exercises, so I’ll be encouraged by other people to stay fit.”
He said the group classes helped him to continue “and not get bored”.
Sharing the benefits of losing weight
Mr Elbahy not only became a regular gym-goer, he decided to become a certified instructor.
“One of the exercises that I used to love was body pump, and it made me fall in love with workout because I enjoyed doing it,” he said.
“So I decided to become a certified body-pump instructor to keep doing it and to help motivate other people like me to reach their target.”
He started the certification process with Les Mills Middle East three months ago and passed the course with the help of instructors at his local gym – Gym Nation.
“Before applying for the certification process, I tried to get to know the instructors well and to make myself known to the group classes’ management,” he said.
Fellow gym members helped Mr Elhaby record a video of him teaching a real class that was required to complete the certification process.
Since receiving his certification on May 29, Mr Elhaby has been teaching three body pump classes every week at Gym Nation.
“The number of attendance varies between 20 to 30 people.”
The aspiring coach said he was eager to share the benefits of his transformation with others.
“Losing weight helped me a lot, not only on the fitness level, but also with my personality,” he said.
“I used to be very shy and isolated and hardly communicated with the people around me.
“So it made me gain confidence and become friendly with people.”
Inspired family to become healthier
Mr Elbahy now trains up to five hours a day.
“In the beginning, I could barely endure 30 minutes or an hour a day,” he said.
“Now I train in the morning for about two hours and I come back in the evening for about the same time.
“But I have some resting days of course, the body and muscles need [time] to recover.”
Mr Elbahy said he also inspired his parents to become healthier.
“Their eating habits changed a lot," he said.
"We are using less oil to cook and less fried food. Even the type of food has changed.
“My mother cooks with less salt and sugar now.”
He said he was also persuading them to move more and “start doing some type of exercise at home, step by step”.
Mr Elbahy’s journey had some bumps as well. During quarantine he said he had a slight relapse.
“When we had the lockdown and no gyms were open, I gained a little bit more weight by sitting at home and doing less exercise,” he said.
Mr Elbahy tried to train at home to keep moving, but found it hard to maintain.
“After a while I realised that I started to gain weight again, so I started running everyday down the street, despite the hot weather.”
While Mr Elbahy said he has come a long way since he took the decision to shed the pounds, he would never say that he has reached his ideal weight and insists that his fitness mission is never over.
“One should never say I am satisfied with my weight. I consider fitness a lifestyle now, you don’t reach a certain weight and shape and stop.
“You continue working out to get better endurance and gain more muscles – I will never stop."