The former investment banker has built his collection of certificates in a number of disciplines, from CrossFit to weightlifting and nutrition. Image Credit: Supplied

As a former professional footballer for the Egyptian national team, Aly Mazhar knows a thing or two about fitness. In fact, he’s turned his knowledge into a successful business, founding the BeFit 360 chain of gyms in his home country and helping sportsmen stay in top shape.

The former investment banker has also earned his fitness stripes along the way, building his collection of certificates in a number of disciplines, from CrossFit to weightlifting and nutrition. You could also call him a fitness influencer.

In the UAE to attend Dubai Fitness Challenge activities, Gulf News tabloid! hit him with some tough fitness hot topics:

Why functional training is the key

Functional training is basically the ability to perform exercises or movements that can help you maintain your daily function, or help you move better throughout your day. There has been a craze lately [for] functional training because people want to do stuff at the gym that will help them outside the gym. So basically, when you squat it mimics the movement of sitting on a chair, when you dead lift you are picking up something from the ground to stand, which is a basic human position. So functional training in summary is getting more people accustomed to doing their daily life activities in an easy manner or in a healthy and proper manner. It improves your posture, it improves your movement, it keeps your joints healthy, it maintains all the mechanics that we were born with especially with the sedentary lifestyle that we go through.

Image Credit: Supplied

Fitness is all about what you eat

Of course, healthy eating is very important. Actually it’s more important than training, because no matter what you do at the gym, you can’t cancel the other 24 hours by eating unhealthy and training. You should eat healthy 80 per cent of the time.

How often should one eat?

People should eat three to five times a day. It honestly depends on their energy levels and on their need. They should first consult someone to understand how much they should be eating, in terms of total calories intake and they should break this down into carbs, protein and fat depending on their goals. Of course, this is a more customised level, but in general people should eat maybe 50 per cent carbohydrates, 30 per cent protein and 20 per cent fat. The breakdown can change depending on the person.

Why lifting weights is important

Strength training in general is important whether that means lifting weights, lifting your own body weight or doing gymnastics — whatever puts an extreme stimulus on the muscles, because this gives the body a reason to grow. If your body doesn’t have a reason to grow, if you are not putting enough pressure on your muscles, your joints will get stronger but your muscles won’t. This is what strength training does, the fibres expand within the muscles, and the number of fibre tissues as well increase.

Image Credit: Supplied

Why women should lift weights

Strength training is suitable for both men and women, it doesn’t matter. The big misconception that women will get bulky when they train is completely not true. They don’t have the same testosterone levels as men, and they don’t have the same growth hormone levels as men, so they won’t get bulky unless they really tried.

The best time to work out

There isn’t really a “best time” for training, you just train when you feel your energy levels are most likely to peak during the day. You have to stick with a certain schedule and whatever suits your lifestyle and makes you feel good at that time of the day, you should hit your workout then. You should train around three to four times a week if you are just trying to be healthy or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Obviously athletes will train much more than that, so this is definitely going to be catered towards your goals.

What to wear during workouts

It’s important to watch what you wear during your workout. You have to wear something that suitable for the activity you are doing. You can’t wear weightlifting shoes and go out running for 5km. If your goal is a specific sport, your sport attire will get more specific. If your goal is just to stay in shape, you can buy nice training or running shoes and wear it at the gym with comfortable clothes. The most important thing is to feel comfortable.

How much sleep should one get?

Sleep is probably one of the most important factors in relation to training and achieving results. It’s hugely disregarded by a lot of people but honestly sleep makes a huge difference. So seven to eight hours of sleep is extremely important. Sleep gives you time to recover, it gives your body time to heal, and get ready for another active day of work or training.

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Don’t miss it!

As part of Dubai Fitness Challenge, Aly Mazhar will be visiting school kids between the ages of 10 and 12 in Dubai next week for one-on-one football sessions and educate them on how to stay healthy while having fun. To find out how you can meet him, follow his schedule on dubaifitnesschallenge.com.