JEDDAH: Serious athletes or hardcore enthusiasts during the holy month tend to exercise before and after breaking their fast, which leads to overcrowded health centers.
Since the start of Ramadan, gym activity in Jeddah has exploded, especially since gyms and fitness centers often offer attractive discounts on memberships and group exercise packages during the Holy month. Many gymnasium opening hours are also extending until late at night to meet the increased demand.
Ramadan gyms are open from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and then reopen from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Working hours are adapted to the fasting period.
Nader Abdul Jawad, an Egyptian trainer at First Gym in Jeddah, said the number of people joining the gym increases during Ramadan as it gets crowded from 3 p.m. at 5 p.m. or after iftar.
Although Ramadan is a time for introspection and devoting more time to religious aspects, it does not mean that you should stop working out or exercising. This is the right time to change.
Nader Abdul Jawad, Egyptian coach
He said during Ramadan, gyms everywhere turn into overcrowded hotspots for young and old struggling to stay in shape.
Abdul Jawad said he has noticed a slight increase in the number of people – most of whom are between the ages of 25 and 40 – visiting his club during Ramadan.
“While younger people prefer to come after breaking their fast, the majority of older generations prefer to finish their work and then come to the club before breaking their fast,” he said.
He said the gym saw a 68% increase in group fitness classes, 50% increase in cardio workouts and stretching, and a 23% increase in the use of indoor walking tracks.
Meanwhile, the most intense strength training sessions saw a 43% drop, while the average number of workouts booked per person was 3.5 per week.
“While Ramadan is a time of introspection and devoting more time to religious aspects, it does not mean that you should stop working out or exercising. It is a good time to take a change,” Abdul Jawad said.
During Ramadan, many sportsmen, like Turki Al-Qahtani, approach their training sessions in two ways: he will train before starting his fasting day or immediately after.
The 29-year-old told Arab News as he walked for his daily exercise at the gym that Ramadan was no excuse not to work out.
“The holy month shouldn’t be (the month) where you give up on your fitness goals. Instead, make Ramadan a time to recharge so you can hit the gym strong after those four weeks,” a- he declared.
With the growing popularity of exercise in gyms, many men and women are using Ramadan as a chance to start a new, healthier routine that they hope will keep their bodies in good shape, and to lose weight and stay in shape.
Nasir Abu Dawood, a banker, is one of many athletes in Jeddah who have found individual ways to maintain their fitness during the holy month.
“Working in a bank made it very difficult for me to work out, but luckily some health clubs have extended their opening hours until past midnight,” he said.
“For me, midnight is the most auspicious time. I’ve had enough time to digest my food, say my prayers, finish my work, and the gym is nice and empty.
Jordanian Asim Al-Awsaf is one of those who prefer to train late at night at the gym. He visits the Ultimate Power Gym in the Rawda neighborhood of Jeffah every night at midnight during Ramadan. “Tarawih prayer ends at 10 p.m., then I have to agree a time to practice,” he said.
“I can’t go to the gym earlier because it’s so crowded because everyone wants to train before the gym closes.”
On the other hand, many women prefer to exercise two hours before iftar to maintain a high level of physical fitness, despite being thirsty and hungry during the day of Ramadan.
Hanan Al-Awfi, a regular walker, said she enjoys walking or exercising daily. During Ramadan, she prefers to exercise before iftar. “You can push yourself a little more knowing you’re going to break your fast soon,” she said.