Nick Blair and Craig Hartley
Nick Blair and Craig Hartley, Co-Founders, Dubai Muscle Show Image Credit: Supplied


From getting set for the biggest fitness and wellness exhibition to offering the best gym facilities and body transformation programmes, industry titans shed light on matters concerning the fitness sector

“There’s an increased excitement for this year’s show”

Nick Blair and Craig Hartley, Co-Founders, Dubai Muscle Show

What can we expect at this year’s Dubai Muscle Show?

Craig: This is a huge comeback year for the event. People have missed being able to come together as a fitness community so there’s an increased excitement for this year’s show! We’ve got more brands participating than ever before and our bodybuilding and functional fitness competitions are set for record participation numbers. This will be the first public event appearance of the current Mr Olympia, Big Ramy, since his recent victory so fans will have the opportunity to meet him, as well as other huge names from the fitness world such as eight-time Mr Olympia, Ronne Coleman, six-time Mr Olympia, Dorian Yates, and seven-times Mr Olympia winner, Flex Lewis. In addition, there will be international fitness personalities such as Kelsey Wells and Heba Ali.

Is there any new direction you have taken with the show this year?

Craig: The demand for fitness and wellness has never been higher and there’s been hundreds of new brands from the sector popping up during the pandemic. We’ve given these new fitness/wellness brands an easier route into the event through our Start-up Zone, which means fitness enthusiasts will have the opportunity to meet and try some of the latest fitness products coming into the market – including new activewear brands, new technologies and new nutrition products.

We’ve also added a new hall to the show, which will be purely for workout equipment and technology. Attendees will be able to try and buy from the biggest brands in the sector, including Technogym, Life Fitness, Panatta, Hammer Strength and MyZone.

What is the biggest challenge of running an event like this?

Nick: We have hundreds of exhibitors and partners so there’s a lot of moving parts and work needed to ensure everybody is happy, and to make sure that our VIP celebrity athletes are at the right place at the right time.

Can you share any new steps for providing opportunities as well as promoting new body builders?

Craig: This will be our biggest ever bodybuilding competition. There’s Dh75,000 in prize money up for grabs and 18 pro-cards for the winners, which will give amateur competitors the chance to compete on the professional circuit. There’s also Strongman, the Turf Games, MMA, boxing, Muay Thai, and hundreds of free fitness classes at the show.

“Reset works for literally everyone, regardless of their fitness level”

Diana Onu
Image Credit: Supplied

Diana Onu, C-Suite, Reset Fitness

Reset is a different kind of a fitness concept. Tell us how it came about?

We created Reset with your average fitness consumer in mind. Our motto is ‘Get Fit for Life’, so we aim for members to make fitness a part of their everyday lifestyle rather than see it as a chore. We’ve removed the work of working out, meaning people can be active and enjoy it too. We have interactive TV-led workouts, vibrant studio lighting, upbeat playlists and coaches to motivate. Our classes are a multisensory experience like no other.

One of Reset’s unique features is that you offer two training intensities - functional and athletic. How does this enable you to cater effectively to people of differing fitness levels?

Participants can choose their intensity and progression throughout the workout. This removes the intimidation level and minimises chances of overload and injury. It also means Reset works for literally everyone, regardless of their fitness level or age.

How has the group workout culture changed during the course of the pandemic? Did you have to do things differently to make it more conducive in the new normal?

Luckily, we opened our doors as new, lighter measures were introduced, so it hasn’t affected us much. People are keen and excited to be part of a tribe again and get social. We naturally employ social distancing as our studio is set-up in stations of 1.8m x 2m, all of which are equipped with sanitiser and towels.

What are the future plans for Reset?

We are set to franchise across the UAE and internationally in the next few years. Certainly, exciting times ahead!

“There is nothing more valuable than your own health”

James Miller
James Miller, Founder and CEO, Embody Fitness Image Credit: Supplied

James Miller, Founder and CEO, Embody Fitness

What is your approach to help people get the body they desire?

Every client is different and our unique approach ensures that each client has a team of highly qualified sports professionals, nutritionists and therapists to guide them every day and guarantee that they achieve the best results possible. Everything is scientifically based and the team are passionate about getting the best results.

How does your business model compare with other gyms?

Embody provides a multi- disciplined team of experts to cover every important part of a client’s body transformation programme. Qualified sports nutritionists work alongside our strength and conditioning experts and sports therapists to ensure every client has a tailored programme designed to deliver rapid and sustainable long-term results.

How has nutrition complemented your exercise offerings?

Nutrition is critical to every client’s body transformation programme and result. Training in the gym is only one part of a programme but to deliver the best results, we ensure you are guided by qualified sports nutritionists every day to support you in achieving results.

What unique pressures do you face as a fitness company? Where do you see Embody Fitness in the next five years?

One of the biggest challenges we face is helping society to educate themselves on the best way to look after themselves and their bodies longer term.

With so much misinformation out there, it can be extremely difficult to know where to go and what to follow. We try and ensure our clients have the best education we can provide so they are healthy and safe long-term as there is nothing more valuable than your own health.

“We are becoming a trustworthy household name”

Neelesh Seebran
Nitesh Seebran, CEO and Co-Founder, METROFITT

Nitesh Seebran, CEO and Co-Founder, METROFITT

What do you bring to METROFITT with your background in the industry?

I have been in the fitness Industry now for just over 20 years and have worked in many international brands. It is so true that when you work your way up the ladder, your experience and accomplishments will get you through the worst of times!

I look at things a bit different. I look at my operations within all my gyms as if I am a member and highlight what I will not be happy with then work on fixing this ASAP. Many Brands get complaisant and allow bad habits to settle in, we at METROFITT listen to our members and this is what keeps them coming back.

People are always seeking better value gyms, how is it possible to stay relevant as well as profitable despite keeping the price low?

We build gyms for 90 per cent of our catchment area and we build them to take a hammering, that’s why we will continue to grow.

We also partner with top brands such as Matrix to ensure we provide the best equipment in the market at an affordable price. Members are looking for the best deal, yes, but they are also looking to be part of a brand that they know will help them get results and be gentle on their wallets.

As METROFITT grows, what changes have you implemented to draw more people to take up fitness?

As we build our home-grown brand, we are becoming a trustworthy household name, allowing us to hire more international certified personal trainers that are focused on helping members reach their fitness goals.

Over and above this, having five locations across the UAE, our members benefit from our passport membership allowing them to train at different locations, so no excuses for not getting to the gym.

What do you see for the future of METROFITT? How many facilities do you perceive opening in the next few years?

Our goal has always been to open 10 Gyms within the UAE and then look at taking the brand to other GCC countries, we are getting many interests at the moment, so we might speed up our international development sooner than expected.

“Our main focus has always been on providing world-class fitness facilities”

Gymnation owners
Ant Martland, Founder and Marketing Director; Loren Holland, Founder and CEO; and Frank Afeaki, Founder and COO, Gymnation Image Credit: Supplied

Ant Martland, Founder and Marketing Director; Loren Holland, Founder and CEO; and Frank Afeaki, Founder and COO, Gymnation

What are the key initiatives for the success of GymNation?

Loren: 2021 has been a good year for GymNation, especially given the challenges we and also the wider fitness industry faced throughout 2020. We are fortunate that the rollout of the vaccination in the UAE has been one of the fastest of any country in the world. This has prevented the need for any more lockdowns and or gym closures and has also meant that confidence to return to or join the gym has returned faster than most other countries have experienced. Through our ongoing brand building, systems improvements and continual product enhancements, we have grown to become the UAE’s number one gym chain this year and cemented ourselves as “The People’s Gym” in the public vote for “Best Gym in the UAE” on Virgin Radio’s Kris Fade Show with over 51 per cent of 70,000+ votes, something we are all very proud of given the business was only started three years ago!

Your gym design is very striking, which of your own gym’s design attributes are your favourite and why?

Frank: I think the overall design concept of each GymNation location is a key differentiator within the market, from the huge open spaces, full of equipment, to the Instagrammable signage that we have installed, we have tried to create a product that is not only eye-catching, but one that also meets the fitness needs of our members. My personal favourite would be the changing rooms within our Motor City location and also the BLITZ boutique studios we have installed. We get a lot of the same positive feedback from members.

You’ve partnered with boxing champion Amir Khan to launch his academies within GymNation locations across the UAE. What do you seek to achieve from that association?

Loren: In partnering with Amir and working together to launch his academy across GymNation locations, there were two key goals we wanted to achieve.

The first was to further develop grassroots boxing within the country and provide the youth of the UAE with the opportunity to be trained by the best boxing coaches in the region.

The second was to provide a world-class base for professional fighters to visit and use during their prefight training camps. We are confident that when combining the GymNation facilities with Amir’s expertise, network of coaches and fighters - the partnership will be a huge success.

How are you engaging with your gym members and what steps do you take to keep them coming back?

Ant: The main focus for GymNation has always been on providing world-class fitness facilities that are flexible, affordable and welcoming for everyone.

As we came out of the pandemic, we continued to ensure that we provide a safe environment for members to return to along with communicating the need, more than ever before, to have a focus on being fit and healthy.

“FitnGlam is created for women by women”

Helena Hijazi, Founder, FitnGlam

SU_220218_Fitness Leaders Helena
Helena Hijazi, Founder, FitnGlam Image Credit: Supplied

Why did you choose to open a women-only gym? Who are you targeting with women-only gyms?

As a covered woman that lived her life in Australia, there weren’t many options when it came to women-only gyms. After relocating to Dubai, I started researching ladies-only concepts but found a massive gap in the market when it came to mixed gyms with women’s sections, where there was generally limited equipment in small spaces.

FitnGlam is a concept that targets all women around the country, as we aspire to be a safe space where women can be inspired by fitness and wellness.

Why do your clients prefer a women-only gym over a mixed gym? Are there any special facilities?

FitnGlam is created for women by women. It is a community and space where we want every woman to feel safe and empowered.

Our fitness equipment is specifically curated for women’s bodies and the environment that we have managed to create is for the purpose of connecting the female mind and body.

Our members prefer choosing FitnGlam as their go-to place because they are free to be themselves as soon as they step inside.

You are the official presenter and headline sponsor of the Miss Universe UAE 2021. How did that come about?

Both, FitnGlam and Miss Universe UAE are new concepts in the UAE. I believe that both brands are well aligned when it comes to the perspectives and goals for women and what we can achieve. We aspire to break stereotypes and encourage women to dream and fulfill those dreams.

What do the next five years look like for FitnGlam?

In the next five years, we aim to become global leaders in the women fitness industry. Our goals are to reach women across the globe and elevate the concept of fitness for women.