JEDDAH: With interest in sport surging in the Kingdom, Saudis embarking on gym and exercise regimes have been warned to beware of self-appointed “experts” peddling fitness myths that can ruin workouts and even damage health.
Fitness specialists say that unreliable information on the internet and poorly researched advice can have a negative influence on those eager to join gyms.
Extreme diets and exercise programs can cause more harm than good, they warn.
Yumna Khalid, a 23-year-old university student, told Arab News that she has had many such experiences at her gym but has finally learned how to deal with them.
“Someone once told me that the more she sweats, the more fat she will lose, and that if she is not sweating heavily, her workout will not work. I said nothing but sympathized with the woman since she was working out wearing a hoodie in the scorching heat of Jeddah.”
Khalid said that people “should just listen to their bodies” to judge if a workout or diet is right for them.
• Yumna Khalid, a 23-year-old university student, said that people ‘should just listen to their bodies’ to judge if a workout or diet is right for them.
• Nouf Hamdallah, a fitness trainer with nine years’ experience, said ‘the problem with these people is that they think what they are doing is the only right way. ‘They should just focus on themselves and not spread information that they aren’t sure about.’
• Suliman Abduljawad, a Guinness world record holder in fitness, said ‘one of the mistaken things that people are trading is that the female body is harder to train — that’s not true, it’s a simple science.’
“The body has a way of telling you. Do the workout that makes you feel good during and afterwards. If a workout or a diet feels wrong then just don’t do it. Listen to your body and you will be set.”
She added: “But listen to it when it is being reasonable and not at 3 a.m. when you want to eat eight donuts and a tub of ice cream.”
Casey Ho, a YouTuber who has been uploading home workout videos since 2009, was subjected to a wave of hate after announcing that she wanted to lose weight and get in the best shape of her life.
In her video, titled “How I lost 17.5 pounds in 12 weeks — My 90-Day Journey,” she said: “No, I don’t have an eating disorder. No, I don’t have a body image disorder. No, I don’t hate myself and, no, this journey wasn’t for you — it was for me.”
In a podcast called Off the Pills, Ho said that the body positive movement has grown so much over the years that now if someone wants to lose weight and look a certain way, they are labeled “anti-body positive” and kicked out of the community.
Returning to unhealthy habits is not the answer, she said. “It is a commitment of a lifetime.”
Nouf Hamdallah, a fitness trainer with nine years’ experience, said: “The problem with these people is that they think what they are doing is the only right way. They should just focus on themselves and not spread information that they aren’t sure about.”
According to Hamdallah, the best way to deal with such people is to ask: “What is the source of the information?”
She added: “They will think back on what they have said and if they do have a genuine source, you can take their advice.”
The trainer also urged gym-goers to avoid training others if they are unqualified, adding that there was a big chance the advice might be harmful.
Hamdallah said that a healthy lifestyle is about changing habits little by little, and is not about following a particular diet. “People tend to get the two mixed.
For a healthy life, it’s just a caloric deficit, physical activity and enough sleep. It’s very simple.”
The trainer defined her personal experience as a series of trial and error, and said that still tries new approaches and methods in her diet and during her workouts.
She also said that her schedules are flexible, and she will not force herself to do something that does not feel right.
Depending on body type, results can take up to a year to show, while sometimes it is just three months, Hamdallah added.
I believe that a lot of Saudis can break a lot of records. I’ve seen the potential they have, but I think they just don’t know how to do it. I am more than happy to guide and help them.
Suliman Abduljawad, Guinness world record holder in fitness
However, according to Khalid, adopting a healthier lifestyle is not as tricky as it sometimes appears.
“I promise you, a healthy lifestyle isn’t just boiled chicken breast and white rice or a sad piece of bread. Now, more than ever, you can find delicious foods on the internet that is so good that you won’t even miss the sugar-filled or fried foods that you crave.”
Khalid said that she was discouraged because people kept telling her that she was eating, drinking and exercising the wrong way, and she was not seeing results in fitness. She later discovered that it takes time to change.
“That is OK. I have my own pace and I am happy with that,” she said.
Adding to the warnings, a Saudi champ has joined the fight against fitness myths
Suliman Abduljawad, a Guinness world record holder in fitness, joined social media to campaign for better messaging around fitness and exercise.
“I have heard a lot of wrong facts and tips about sports. A lot of people on social media don’t have a certificate in fitness, and I see them advising people based on their personal experience and not studies,” he told Arab News.
Abduljawad said that he decided to step in and educate people about the “rights and wrongs” of training.
The fitness champ said that he receives messages every day from followers asking him about information they read online.
Female personal trainers in Saudi Arabia are expensive compared with other countries because of the myths, he said.
“One of the mistaken things that people are trading is that the female body is harder to train — that’s not true, it’s a simple science,” Abduljawad said.
He also rejects the claim that training is bad for children. “I have a son, I cannot wait until he is 3 years old to train him. People say that children should not train, which is wrong. Their training is fun and they will enjoy it.”
Abduljawad said that he read Guinness World Records books as a child and wondered why there were no Saudi record-holders. It was then that he decided to work hard on himself.
He eventually broke two world records after a long journey — one in side jump push-up and one in archer push-up in 2020.
“I believe that a lot of Saudis can break a lot of records. I’ve seen the potential they have, but I think they just don’t know how to do it. I am more than happy to guide and help them.”
Abduljawad offers online training and dreams of having his own gym one day. “I’m aiming break 10 more world records.”
JEDDAH: Saudi Airlines’ free “luggage first” service has begun the departure stage for pilgrims after performing Hajj on Thursday.
The first-of-its-kind transport service was run last month in cooperation with Jeddah Management Company. The service picked up luggage from the pilgrim’s accommodation in Jeddah, Makkah or Madinah 24 hours before their flight, took it to the airport and checked it in for them.
Arab News spoke to Hani Al-Hitairshi, general manager of domestic stations at Saudi Airlines, during a tour around JMC’s luggage scanning facility.
Al-Hitairshi explained that the airline had conducted phase two of the luggage transport operation.
“We received the luggage that was handed from the housing of these guests, then to this area (luggage scanning facility) for clearance before dispatching them to the airport,” he said.
“In this phase, we clear the luggage if there are any prohibited items inside or anything not allowed to be transported by air,” he said.
After this process, the airlines begin dispatching all luggage to the airport directly.
Al-Hitairshi said that it was important for Saudi Airlines to provide pilgrims with a safe and easy Hajj experience.
“It’s important because Saudi Airlines used to provide a new initiative every year, and this is the initiative of this year,” he said.
“This is what’s important, we need to develop services and improve our services to satisfy our customers.”
Chairman of the board of JMC, Mohammed Al-Sheikh, said that they also coordinated with the airport security.
“We have five inspection systems already; we are coordinating with airports’ security. The baggages will arrive at our building first and enter through the system,” he told Arab News.
“The security group will have made their inspections according to their policy. If necessary to open any baggage, there is an inspection and a representative from all airlines and us to open it,” he said.
He used “Zamzam” water as an example of a case where an item might be prohibited on a flight.
“If there are more items, the security will take the necessary actions,” he said.
A pallet specific to each flight is built then taken to the dispatch area.
“After that, it will be transported to the airport in a big truck 24 hours prior to the flight.”
“There we have a separate dedicated area for drop luggage near Hajj terminal; our team there will get all the information from the driver,” he said.
“The information is sent by email before arriving, and the original document is with the driver. They collect it then deliver it to a representative of the airlines then the ground services of the airlines will do their operations inside the airport.”
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia condemned on Thursday an attack in Iraq’s Dohuk province that killed eight and wounded 23, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Kingdom affirmed its full support for the government of Iraq in facing the challenges that threaten its security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
Turkey on Wednesday rejected claims by Iraqi officials and state media that it had carried out the attack on a mountain resort in the northern province.
Iraq summoned Ankara’s ambassador to Baghdad over the attack and its state agency said the government will call back its charge d’affaires in Ankara.
Turkey regularly carries out air strikes in northern Iraq and has sent commandos to support its offensives as part of a long-running campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants of the Kurdish PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Ankara regards both as terrorist groups.
DAMMAM: Top musicians and composers from the Middle East and Europe are to take part in a Saudi festival dedicated to celebrating the important contribution of the oud to jazz music, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Kingdom’s Music Commission will host the first Arabic Jazz Music Festival at the Dhahran Expo in Dammam over two days starting Friday.
German Lebanese oud master Rabih Abou Khalil, a 10-time German Jazz Music Award winner, and Bands Across Borders, are among the event’s biggest names.
A jazz orchestra comprised of leading vocalists, instrumentalists, jazz, pop, and rock musicians from the Arab world and Europe will also perform some of the region’s best-known Arabic tunes.
In addition, the festival will feature Egyptian oud master Hazem Shaheen in his new jazz formation, as well as Mohamed Abozekry, at 14 years old the youngest officially recognized Arab oud master.
The lineup will be supported by rising Saudi music stars such as Bahraini Saudi fusion band Majaz, Saudi band Al Farabi, and Dammam jazz fusion band, Mosaic.
In organizing the festival at Dhahran Expo, one of the largest exhibition companies in Saudi Arabia, the Music Commission aims to promote national and Arab talent and participation in such events.
RIYADH: The Saudi Council of Universities Affairs will cut red tape and increase organizational agility in universities through a range of reforms to improve performance.
The council, headed by Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh, reduced the number of agencies in major Saudi universities to four, while in “emerging” universities, it cut the number to three.
The four must be allocated to scientific colleges, health colleges, theoretical colleges, and a center in the field of university interests and orientations, with faculty members appointed only to the presidency of those centers. No deputies, assistants, or advisers can be appointed from the faculty.
Deanships of Community Service will also be merged with Applied College units on the main campuses of Saudi universities.
Community service units will also be attached to university agencies.
The council also requires universities to convert all supporting deanships of an operational nature into departments (with the exception of Deanships of Admission and Registration, Student Affairs, Development and Quality). This is in addition to a maximum of two other deanships selected by the council, “according to the university’s needs and directions.”
Dr. Khalid Al Akwa’a, chairman of the board of the Saudi Society for Quality in the Makkah Region, told Arab News that the “mechanism for improving the structure of academic institutions issued by the council ensures the optimization of university costs, time and effort.
“These resolutions enable quicker access and ensure that universities keep up with the scientific changes as well as developments, and also improve the quality of education.”
Al Akwa’a, a European Foundation for Quality Management assessor, said that bureaucracy in university administrations, as well as the overlap and repetition of tasks, can hinder the performance of tertiary institutions.
He added that lengthy procedures affected the development of educational services, and that the council’s measures will take steps to boost efficiency.
AL AHSA: Al-Ahsa Gov. Prince Saud bin Talal bin Badr met with CEO of the Saudi Railways Co. Dr. Bashar Al-Malik on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
A number of company officials accompanied Al-Malik.
Prince Saud was briefed on the company’s achievements and the progress of work to develop the Sharq line’s services.
He also learned about Saudi Arabia’s current railways, the company’s development plans, the figures for the Sharq line and Hofuf station, and SAR’s contribution to removing optical distortions in Al-Ahsa.
Prince Saud expressed the Saudi government’s strong interest in the transportation sector, which he said will contribute to the country’s economic and social development.
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