Abu Dhabi fitness enthusiast launches ‘smart’ exercise group

Shahzah Ahmed, who turned his life around after a health scare, has launched 'Active Weekend', a weekly exercise group where people can workout while getting health tips from experts.
Shahzad Ahmed and his daughter Aisha, 8, join the other members of the Active Weekend group to participate in a 20-minute to 45-minute walk or run at Abu Dhabi Mall. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National
Shahzad Ahmed and his daughter Aisha, 8, join the other members of the Active Weekend group to participate in a 20-minute to 45-minute walk or run at Abu Dhabi Mall. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National

ABU DHABI// A fitness enthusiast who turned his life about after a health scare has started a “smart” exercise group to help people work out efficiently.

Shahzad Ahmed had high blood pressure and was at risk of developing diabetes. The 47-year-old father knew he to do something to turn it around.

Determined, the Abu Dhabi resident even took part in a 15-day cycling tour last year from Vienna, Austria, through the Alps and Pyrenees to Barcelona, Spain.

While it was an adventure he greatly enjoyed, he wanted something inspiring on his own doorstep. So in March this year Mr Ahmed and his friend, fitness expert Daniel Hughes, launched the Active Weekend group, which meets Saturday mornings at Abu Dhabi Mall for members to run, walk or jog together.

“A few years ago, I was stuck in that position where I was not able to lose weight,” said Mr Ahmed. “Daniel and I thought we could walk and give people advice on how to exercise effectively as the intensity at which each person needs to work out or the kind of exercise they need to perform is different.

“I have seen many cases where people started working out at a gym to lose weight and destroyed their health by not exercising correctly.”

As well as one-to-one advice, members of the Active Weekend group are also given free access to personal fitness devices that monitor health and workout performances. A coach – a nutritionist or trained fitness expert – then interprets the data to help the health seekers understand it.

“We give people different tools to try and with the use of technology people can monitor their heart rate on their phones and see their improvement.”

The group has grown from five members to 15.

“Our goal is to see 200 people walking with us on a weekend,” said Mr Ahmed, an IT consultant who believes in the mantra “what we cannot measure we cannot improve”.

His partner in fitness, Australian expat Mr Hughes, believes people who work out together have more success than those who try to tackle getting fit by themselves. “The human element is important,” said the veteran runner.

For him, Active Weekend is about sharing stories and knowledge. “If people have questions, we can give advice,” said the 38-year-old, who works in sports management.

Abdul Jalil Khan, a computer instructor, was curious about the Active Weekend group after he heard about it on social media.

The Indian expatriate, who has lived in the capital for 15 years, said he found the group aspect of exercising enjoyable and motivating. The 47-year-old said it had not only helped him with his physical fitness levels but had also made a significant difference to his overall health and well-being. “I used to suffer from blood pressure problems which have now stabilised,” he said. “I am energetic and feel stress free now.”

While Active Weekend co-founder Mr Ahmed is delighted with his group, the Canadian-Pakistani expat is always looking for a new challenge so decided to face his fear of water and learn to swim. “My daughter Aisha loves swimming and is in her school swimming squad,” he said. “She inspired me to learn, though I used to be so afraid of water that my knees would tremble if I went in it at the beach.”

arizvi2@thenational.ae

Published: August 8, 2015 04:00 AM

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