Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Circuit Factory - Changing more than just the numbers on the scales.





It’s only when you live in Dubai that you realize exactly how easy life can be. Everywhere delivers…. And I mean everywhere. McDonalds actually deliver here.

Other people pack your bags in the supermarket, put them in your trolley, wheel your trolley out to your car and finally load it into the car for you. That’s if you have bothered to go to the supermarket at all. You can just phone up the shop and they’ll send everything to your door.

This is the only place in the world where we can afford to have full time help. We have an actual housekeeper. Who, by the way, is worth her weight in gold. She cooks, she cleans, she irons. Our apartment is immaculate…. All the time. With a two year old and a six month old, that is nothing short of spectacular.

When she goes on holiday, we are literally bereft without her. And that’s without even mentioning the crumbs. I had no idea that toddlers came with such an ability to pulverize absolutely everything into pieces the size of grains of sand.

But all of that convenience, and all of that help means only one thing. We are getting fatter. They actually call it the Dubai stone, because that’s the average amount that people put on once they land in this playground in the sandpit.

So, take me, a chocolate addict. You are talking to the person who used to diet by replacing proper meals with chocolate, full fat, full sugar, milk chocolate. Put her in the sandpit, with all the convenience and ease that is available to her. Then add in not one but two hyperemesis filled pregnancies.

For those of you who are lucky enough to be completely oblivious to what hyperemesis is, it is extreme morning sickness.

By extreme, I mean vomiting multiple times a day, and feeling nauseous for the rest of it.

Apparently it only affects 3% of the population, but if you are unlucky enough to be part of the 3%, it feels like the entire world is coming to an end.

Even on anti sickness medication, I felt like I had en eternal hangover. I was constantly on the edge of needing to find a bathroom and all I wanted to do was eat my own bodyweight in McDonalds.

And that is pretty much what I did. Apart from the hundreds (I’m not exaggerating either) of packets of salt and vinegar Lays that I ate in the first trimester (they seemed to help the nausea when nothing else did) I ate McDonalds at least twice a day (or a similar substitute) for both of my pregnancies.

Lucky me, I had hyperemesis for the first 24 weeks with my daughter, and then for the full 40 weeks with my son. I kept waiting for the nausea to subside so that I could “be good” with my diet. But by the time I reached 24 weeks during my first pregnancy, that damage was done. No amount of gentle exercise was going to help shift the weight. The final trimester I put on the expected ½ a pound a week, which was just my daughter growing but I had already put on more than enough weight for two women.

During each pregnancy I gained 28KGs. Roughly 4.5 stone. That is a LOT of weight. No matter how good I said I was going to be, the calling of fast food was too much and I gave in.

After my daughter was born, I managed to drop the weight by using my “replacing meals with chocolate” scheme (I know, literally the worst diet ever) in the first five months after giving birth. But I was loose, not toned and was still extremely unhealthy.

When my son was born, I was so mad at myself. I had let myself gain 28kgs during my second pregnancy, and I was not happy about it. But this time I decided I needed to do things properly. That my health was important, not just for me, but for my husband and my children. My kids needed me to be able to pick them up, carry them around and generally be there for them. I wanted to be able to run round after them, and most importantly, to set them the example that I wanted them to follow.

Gary had been going to an ever growing phenomenon called The Circuit Factory (www.circuitfactory.ae ) and had not stopped raving about it since he had started going.

I was less than impressed. It was a “circuit class”, with running. I am so bad at running, I hate it with a passion and I am not good at it. As for circuits, watching Gary do one burpee made me feel slightly sick. I have no upper body strength, and press ups literally make me want to cry.

But Gary sent me a couple of pictures of the transformations that were happening inside this “circuit class”, and even though I really really didn’t want to, I was a little bit curious about whether I too could become one of their transformations.

I won’t lie, when I arrived at the school where the classes were being held, I almost ran away. There were 10 instructors standing around waiting for the newbies to show up, so they could take them through the drill.

Not just 10 instructors that you’d see in the gym, but 10 of the leanest, fittest, intimidatingly in-shape instructors you have ever seen. They made me want to simultaneously run away and hide and rooted me to the spot.

I stayed and endured the first class. I have never worked so hard in my life as I do in those Circuit Factory classes. They do a mile run as a warm up, followed by at least two rounds of circuits. After the run I want to curl up in a ball and die, but I’m soon marching back into the hall with everyone else and even though I don’t think I can, somehow I work my way (at my own pace) through the circuits and collapse at the end of the class (occasionally after a round of Sally – if you don’t know what that is, don’t ask, you really don’t want to know).

The instructors are what make a Circuit Factory Class. There are sometimes 140 people in a class, and the instructors know most of them by name. They know exactly what weights I am lifting, and don’t hesitate to tell me when it’s time to pick up the heavier one (admittedly I am “wife of” Gary, who spends his life asking the instructors to make the class “a hard one”, invoking their wrath – so I’m pretty much marked with a target!).

A lot of the instructors are former participants in the class, and several of them are the people whose transformations made me turn up to that first class. They have done it, and they have maintained it, and gone on to encourage, support and occasionally harass the class members to work harder and smarter.

My transformation is taking longer than expected, owing to a bout of bronchitis, tendonitis in my foot and a two week holiday, but I am working hard on the body I want to keep.


It’s not an easy road, but it’s the right one. As you’ll see from my next post, The Circuit Factory is not just about the classes, it’s about the lifestyle. I think that is what makes it so addictive, they are changing people’s lives, not just the numbers on the scales.