Ahlan! trains for the Tough Mudder Challenge

Editor Andre Neveling agreed to give up brunching for 6 weeks to prepare, and Urban Energy Fitness whipped him into shape
ByAndre NevelingWednesday , 03 January 2018
Ahlan! trains for the Tough Mudder Challenge
© ITP Images

As much as I like to consider myself a ‘fitness fanatic’, I’m really not. I love sleeping till the very last minute I possibly can in the mornings, watching Netflix after work, indulging at brunches on Fridays, and spending Saturdays in bed. With that much lazing to do, gym sessions can be few and far between. 

To combat my laziness, I like to binge gym. For instance, in preparation for a holiday (or simply when I realise my mu in- top has come to fruition). So when Tough Mudder asked me to take part in their annual obstacle challenge on 8 Dec, I thought it was a good excuse to increase my fitness levels. I had six weeks to train for it, and the fact that it was a mere two weeks before my beach holiday in Thailand certainly helped, too. Fortunately for me, Urban Energy Fitness agreed to come on board and train me for the challenge.

Urban Energy Fitness is a mobile personal training company based in Dubai. That means they come to you for workouts. Many of us feel motivated to work up a sweat before work when we set our morning alarm at bedtime, only to wake up a completely different person... one who would much rather choose a life of obesity and go back to sleep. However, when your trainer is waiting outside your front door or in your apartment lobby, there’s no escaping. And let’s be honest – that’s exactly the forceful motivation some of us need in life. 

That’s not all there is to Urban Energy Fitness. Unlike other mobile personal training companies, the trainers also host fitness classes. From boot-camp classes to boxing and running, there is something for everyone. Plus, Urban Energy Fitness has its own app, which you use to book and confirm your attendance for classes, so it’s super convenient. I tried the boot-camp class that was held at Al Barsha Pond Park. Best of all, the class is attended by people of all shapes, sizes, fitness levels, and ages. There’s nothing worse than attending a class where you feel insecure. It’s incredibly demotivating. 

I was lucky enough to train with one of the company’s best PTs – Alex Lawrence. In fact, the best trainer I’ve ever trained with (and I’ve had a quite few on both ends of the scale). Alex is the first trainer I’ve ever worked with that ticks all the boxes. He’s friendly, fun to chat with, is invested in your training, and keeps things fun and interesting. He messages you before a session to check if you’re ready, and often messages you afterwards to tell you how well you did. In fact, on some days, he surprised me by whisking me off to work out in parks instead of the gym, which I’ve never done before. Alex also shared nutritional advice, and gave me a personalised workout routine for days when I trained without him, aptly called the Bangkok Pump. 

From time to time you’ll come across a trainer that’s only in it for the money. You can tell the workouts are uninspired: they stick to the clock, and if you request a change to the schedule, they make you feel like you’re an inconvenience. Fortunately, my experience with Alex was completely the opposite. Throughout the weeks, he kept track of my fitness levels and strength, and would make a point of boosting my confidence when I completed an exercise that I’d struggled with in the beginning. If that isn’t a perfect PT, I don’t know what is.

To top it off, the training was actually fun. My apartment gym is rather small and the equipment limited, but that didn’t matter. Most of the training used body weight, and there were no long and boring sessions running on treadmills. In fact, Alex also brought along ropes, rubber bands, and skipping ropes, which are effective and convenient in any space. 

Before I knew it, Tough Mudder day had arrived. By that point my friends and colleagues had already noticed a change in my physique, so whether I failed or succeeded, I was already happy. Compliments are way more rewarding, anyway (right?!). Although, as it turned out, completing the challenge was the biggest reward of all. Because, in my opinion, I nailed Tough Mudder. There were moments when I looked at an obstacle and thought ‘there is no way I can do this’, and when I did, it felt beyond incredible. In fact, out of the 20 obstacles over the 12km course, I took on 19. The only one I refused to do was the electroshock therapy obstacle, which as the name suggests, electrocutes you as you run through. Because, no. Simply, no. 

With Tough Mudder done and dusted, I’m genuinely excited to take part again in 2018 (even writing that feels like, ‘who are you?’). And thanks to Urban Energy Fitness, I’m feeling stronger and more confident than ever before. Plus I can go on holiday and actually breathe on the beach instead of sucking in my gut. Bonus!

INFO: For more information on trainers and classes, visit urbanenergyfitness.com

MEET THE TRAINER: ALEX LAWRENCE  

How long have you worked at Urban Energy Fitness?
I have been working for the company since October 2015, and I absolutely love it.

What types of classes do you host?
I take two boxing classes per week. They’re boxing fitness classes. One is on a Monday night, at 7pm at Al Barsha Pond Park, and the other one is on a Wednesday morning, at 6am at Umm Suquiem beach. The classes are loads of fun.

When did you first realise you wanted a career in fitness?
I first realised I wanted to work in the fitness industry around 15 years ago. I’ve always been in a gym environment, either training for Muay Thai or getting other fighters ready for a fight. So it kind of fell into place. 

What’s the best thing about being a PT?
The best thing about being a personal trainer is helping people to set goals for themselves and being there when they smash those goals. It’s the most amazing feeling when you see a client who thought ‘oh, I’ll never be able to do that’, and they actually manage it. You see them so happy; it’s the most rewarding feeling you can have. 

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