JEDDAH: Serious athletes or hardcore enthusiasts tend to exercise before and after breaking the fast during the holy month, leading to overcrowded health centers.
Since the start of Ramadan, Jeddah gym business has been booming, especially as gyms and fitness facilities often offer attractive discounts on memberships and group training packages during the holy month. Many gyms are also extending hours late into the night to accommodate increased demand.
Gyms in Ramadan are open from 2pm to 5pm and then reopen from 9pm to 2am. Working hours are adapted to Lent.
Nader Abdul Jawad, an Egyptian trainer at The First Gym in Jeddah, said the number of people attending the gym increases during Ramadan as it gets crowded there from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. or after iftar.
While Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and for devoting more time to religious aspects, that doesn’t mean you should stop exercising or sports. This is a good time to make a change.
Nader Abdul Jawad, Egyptian coach
He said that during Ramadan, gyms everywhere turn into crowded hotspots for young and old alike struggling to stay in shape.
Abdul Jawad said he noticed a slight increase in the number of people – most of them between the ages of 25 and 40 – visiting his club during Ramadan.
“While the younger generation prefers to visit after breaking the fast, the majority of older generations prefer to finish their jobs and then come to the club before breaking the fast,” he said.
He said the gym saw a 68 percent increase in group fitness classes, a 50 percent increase in cardio workouts and stretching, and a 23 percent increase in the use of indoor trails for walking.
Meanwhile, the higher-intensity strength-training sessions saw a 43 percent drop, while the average number of workouts booked per person was 3.5 per week.
“While Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and dedicating more time to religious aspects, it doesn’t mean you should stop exercising or sports. This is a good time to make a change,” said Abdul Jawad.
During Ramadan, many gym-goers like Turki Al-Qahtani approach their workouts in two ways: he works out before he starts his fasting day or right after.
The 29-year-old told Arab News as he walked to his daily exercise session at the gym that Ramadan is no excuse for not exercising.
“The sacred 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,” he said.
With the increasing 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 body in good shape and help them lose weight and stay fit.
Nasir Abu Dawood, a banker, is one of the many athletes in Jeddah who have found individual ways to maintain fitness during the holy month.
“Working in a bank has made it very difficult for me to exercise, but luckily some of the gyms have extended their hours past midnight,” he said.
“Midnight is the best time for me. I’ve had enough time to digest my food, say my prayers, finish my work, and the gym is pretty empty.”
Jordanian Asim Al-Awsaf is one of those people who prefer to work out in the gym until late at night. He attends Ultimate Power Gym at Rawda District Jeffah every night during Ramadan at 00:00. “Taraweeh prayer ends at 10 p.m. and then I have to arrange a time to exercise,” he said.
“I can’t go to the gym earlier because it’s very busy as everyone wants to work out before the gym closes.”
On the other hand, many women prefer to exercise two hours before iftar in order to stay fit during the day of Ramadan despite being thirsty and hungry.
Hanan Al-Awfi, a regular hiker, said she likes to go for a walk or exercise every day. During Ramadan, she prefers to train before iftar. “You can try a little harder knowing you’re about to break your fast,” she said.