Nothing is impossible. You are never too busy to sleep. You can never be too busy to eat. And, you can never be too busy to work out.
This is the lesson that young Tarek El Sharif, a spinning coach, has learnt from his five-year struggle to be an active individual and lose the extra kilos that he felt was too much for him to carry.
“You can give yourself so many excuses about how busy you are. We, as Muslims, have to offer prayers five times a day. In Arabic, they say about the prayer that you have to offer it as there is no choice. I follow the principle in doing my daily exercise. There is no option for you. You have to work out,” said 30-year-old Tarek, a Syrian national, who was born and brought up in Qatar.
He likes to see himself as a very sporting and active person. Inclined to be associated with any kind of sport, Tarek wants to keep a good physical balance. “This is a kind of theory in my life now that I like to maintain and respect. Now, I enjoy my food more because I know there is exercise.”
The fitness enthusiast has not always been enviably fit. He was too overweight at one point in his life. “I was carrying as much as 158kg till 2014. I am 181 centimetres tall and my ideal weight should be between 85 to 88kg. Although I started physical activities to lose weight initially, today, active life has become my lifestyle. Today, I cannot even imagine skipping my daily work out.”
Being in his early 20s, Tarek started realising that his physical appearance did matter. “Though I faced no health repercussions as I was very young, my trigger was my looks, by the way. In 2014 summer, I joined a gym and remember that I got rid of 25kg in first four months. I had double-training every day. In the morning, I would go for swimming and in the evening, gym. It was during Ramadan and I did swimming while fasting.
“When my weight was 135kg, I decided to undergo weight-loss surgeries. That did not stop me from going to the gym. With the passage of time, I discovered that the more diversified exercise you do, the more efficient your body becomes. I always enjoy my exercise when people are around me. I look for a group of people where I do my training.”
For the trainer, the surgery does not create magic. “I know many people who underwent weight-loss surgeries but went back to Square One — even bigger. I also know some people who did not put an injection in their body and managed to lose weight and have a healthy lifestyle. I had almost 11 surgeries, including plastic surgeries. I am not allergic to surgery. However I am against it if you take it as a magical wand and think that only surgery is going to do the job.
“I never stop my fitness journey. I look at surgery as a tool helping me reach my goal. For now, I am doing just a maintenance job.”
Tarek was not chubby as a kid. He was born very slim. “I was raised without a father. He passed away when I was nine. At that time, I was trying to accept the fact that I have my father no more. It started making me lose interest in playing outdoor or being connected (to other children) because I thought that I was not exactly the same like other kids in the compound — as they had fathers. I am the oldest of siblings. I have a great mother and a great family. I was too young to conceptualise death.”
Tarek describes himself as a very people-oriented person. Everyone tells him that he is a sociable person. “I am very loud. I always do a lot of public speaking. One of the trainers who I know once told me that I will do well as a class instructor. He asked me that I have no confidence issues and carry the best fitness level. I joined International Fitness Alliance diploma course. I decided to take it. If I am going to be a trainer, I need to know the human body and I need to be a licenced one. I studied different functions of the human body, sleep patterns, food intakes etc.
“I took my certification in spinning. I wanted to take up a sport that was new and trendy. There is a big boom towards bicycles and spinning. Spinning is the training of how to ride your bike outdoors. It is basically training yourself. At class, we do mountain climbs, heavy spikes, and speed. It is different types of RPMs (rotation per minute) depending upon the speed and strength that you incorporate while you are cycling. I studied that and passed my examination. In 2016, I started coaching. In studies, after my MBA, I am looking to pursue PhD in humanities and social sciences. The research proposal that I am working on is effects of sports and international sports events in international co-operation between countries.”
As a fitness trainer, Tarek believes that one should find no excuse for not working out. “My piece of advice to all those who are inactive in their life is that today, is better than tomorrow. Start doing some sort of exercise. Something is always better than nothing. What you do in private will show in public, whether it is your exercise, diet, habits, or time table.”
The spinning trainer is all praise for Qatar’s love and attention towards sports. “It is a whole culture that we have here to get up there and work out. There have been a lot of gyms and sport events. I enjoy being with sporting people. This is the true culture of Qatar.
“Sports science is on a high. It is a big world. You get the chance to learn a lot from others as well. Qatar has amazing sport facilities both in public and private sectors. There are lots of public parks opening. When I feel stressed, I go to a park, jog and de-stress myself. Take this opportunity in Qatar and take care of your physical health. People are always ready to help you out.”
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