After moving back to the UAE in March following a stint in Singapore, I was excited. Excited to see all my friends, to return to all my favourite hotspots and, of course, excited to brunch again. Because no matter how good the food is in Asia, there’s nothing quite like the UAE’s indulgent brunch culture. The one thing I wasn’t excited about, however, was finding a new gym and getting back to a consistent fitness routine and diet. After about two months back in Dubai, the weekly brunching and late nights out caught up with me again.
I’m not a big fan of scales, but I could tell my shoulders were getting smaller and my muffin top was getting bigger. The final straw was when I saw pictures of myself on social media taken at a pool brunch. I like being comfortable in my own skin, and I clearly wasn’t any longer. It was time to do something.
Fortunately for me, a few days later I received a call from TK MMA Fitness in Dubai, inviting me to do a body challenge at their gym (perhaps they also saw my horrid pool pics on Instagram). Six weeks of dedication, training and dieting – exactly what I needed. I immediately headed to the gym, located in Dubai Media City’s Shatha Tower to meet with its owner, Tam Khan, and personal trainer, Winard Loz. We discussed my goals, did a tour of the gym and set a starting date. I was nervous.
The gym itself is spectacular. It’s by far the largest private gym I’ve trained at, with the most extensive selection of equipment. Just when I thought I knew my way around a gym, TK MAA introduced me to equipment I’ve never seen or used before. It can be a bit daunting at first, but it keeps things fresh and exciting. Best of all, the gym has an enormous outdoor training facility which wraps around the building and overlooks the picturesque Dubai Marina skyline. Sadly for me, I trained during mid-summer, and opted to remain indoors in the comfort of the air conditioning. But group classes continued outside regardless, and I envied the hardcore gymgoers who had the stamina to train in the heat. Props to them!
Regular training aside, TK MMA also offers a variety of exciting classes. From MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and boxing to yoga, Pilates and even kids’ classes, there is something for everyone. With temperatures finally cooling down, I’m planning to head back for the strength and conditioning outdoor classes, which are exercises prescribed specifically to improve performance in athletic competition. It’s a full- body workout that also helps athletes with injury prevention. Plus it looks like loads of fun.
For my personal challenge I trained with PT Winard. Three personal training sessions and one class per week, for six weeks. Some days were high intensity weight training, some more cardio oriented and others were core-focused. I liked the fact that I would show up and not know what to expect. When it's left up to me, I'll merely do my regular exercises and highly likely skip most of the leg workouts. Sadly for me, Winard kept track of my workout routine and fitness levels, and eventually forced me to do those dreaded walking lunges.
I’ll admit, the first couple of days were tough. I was a complaining puddle of sweat. But after the second week I felt like my old fit self, and even when things got tough, it felt good. In fact, there were times where I gave extra reps or requested additional exercises. Check me out!
Truth be told, I stuck to my workout routine and high-protein diet from Kcal, but I didn’t let it take over my entire life. Cheat days were Fridays, so I could still enjoy my beloved brunches (I wasn’t ready to let go of them just quite yet), and I even took a week o to travel to Thailand during the challenge. The first time I knew my hard work was paying o was during this trip, when all my Thai friends noticed a change and complimented me. It inspired me to return to the UAE and workout even harder.
Throughout the six weeks of training I avoided weighing myself. After three weeks I measured my muscle and body fat to ensure my diet was correct, but for the rest of the time I just did the best I could. Past experience has taught me that results di er from week to week, and I didn’t want a slow week to demotivate me. I chose to put maximum e ort in and find out the results at the end of the six weeks.
By the time it came to the final weigh-in, I didn’t really care about the results. Everyone around me noticed, my clothes felt better on me, and most importantly, I felt stronger, healthier and much more confident. The fact that I dropped a decent amount of body fat and picked up muscle was merely a bonus. The next challenge is keeping the momentum going. Game on!
INFO: TK MMA Fitness, open seven days a week, for more information on membership packages, classes and schedules, call 04 452 3388 or visit tkmmafit.com
MEET THE OWNER: TAM KHAN
What inspired you to start TK MMA?
Watching UFC 1 and Royce Gracie. I immediately fell in love with the sport. How this skinny man beat four other guys in one evening without throwing a punch. It was crazy to see. I was hooked and wanted to learn this style of combat straight away.
What sets TK MMA apart from other gyms in Dubai?
The word REAL! All my coaches are ex professional fighters or athletes. All practice what they preach at the highest level, alongside myself. So we provide a world- class service. People see that and that’s why they join. Also it’s the hub for international superstar athletes to visit and train. The likes of WWE superstars to world champion boxers and MMA fighters all walk through our doors and train. Even Hollywood celebrities. So it has a good reputation and the vibe is unbeatable. It’s one big family!
How did your MMA journey in the UAE begin?
I visited Dubai many times on vacation and fell in love with the city. But on my travels I wanted to train and couldn’t find a facility o ering MMA and I was surprised, as in the West it was the fastest- growing sport and gaining notoriety. So I had a vision, packed up my life in the UK, landed here and went for it. Thank goodness I succeeded and the rest is history.
What advice would you have for amateur fighters looking to get into MMA?
Don’t run before you can walk. Take your time and understand it’s a full-time job. You need to put your soul into it. Blood, sweat and tears. You play football, rugby, tennis but you don’t ‘play’ MMA. It’s a tough sport, so be prepared and choose your coaches wisely. Go for experience and quality over someone who just markets themselves well. You obviously eat incredibly healthily.
What’s your favourite cheat meal?
Actually not as healthily as I should, but recently I have partnered with Fuel Up by Kcal and it has worked wonders. In terms of cheat meals, I love burgers and cheesecake. When I binge it’s a scary sight.
MEET THE PT: WINARD LOZ
How long have you been working at TK MMA?
Seven months at TK MMA Fitness, and six years in the fitness industry.
When did you first realise you wanted a career in fitness?
After my first ever bodybuilding competition. The hard work and the sacrifices I made to qualify for the competition made me realise that fitness was in my blood. The transformation I went through showed me that nothing is impossible.
What are your personal fitness goals?
To be a part of the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) and to be titled as Pro.
What’s the best thing about being a PT?
When I have my first session with a new client, before we get down to actually pumping the iron, I always have a chat with them to find out the reasons they decided to start their fitness journey. During that session they let you in, they disclose to you their deepest ‘whys’ and their insecurities. They choose to put their trust in you to help them reach the goal they have in mind. They choose to follow your lead, and for me that is an immeasurable privilege.
If you could train any celebrity, who would it be?
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Only so that I could steal some of his techniques!