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Zero to hero
Can an out of shape executive make a commitment to take his life back with the same gusto that made a sensation out of a burger-eating filmmaker?
November 18, 2010 9:32 by Jay Akasie
The other guy had it easier. Anyone who’s seen the marvelous documentary “Supersize Me” knows that its star went on a month-long, all-McDonald’s food bender during which he put his health in jeopardy.
My idea was to do the opposite: Spend 30 days rigorously going to the gym and eating right to see if I couldn’t get my health back on track. My friends at the new Apollo Fitness in Dubai agreed to be my institutional aid – much like the McDonald’s Corp. abetted the guy in “Supersize Me.”
But instead of fast-food restaurants filled with the smell of fryolators, my month-long devotion centered around the 12,500-square feet of Apollo Fitness, a gym in the heart of Knowledge Village that’s a one-stop, all-inclusive club boasting the finest amenities.
Besides its full line of free weights, it boasts Cybex strength machines devoted to every muscle imaginable, plus cardio machines such as bikes, treadmills, and ergometers (you rowers know about the third item).
My hunch was that visiting a gym every day for one month could change my life. I simply wasn’t sure to what extent it could turn the tables.
It was clear from watching “Supersize Me” that eating fatty food can turn a reasonably healthy man into a sick mess in less than a month. The power of the film, I think, comes from how unexpectedly rapid the effects of a poor diet took their toll on its star.
I’ve heard from fitness trainers and doctors alike that the human body is amazingly resilient. It responds well to good treatment, but also compensates for a lot of garbage when it’s being treated poorly.
My body, which was doing okay when I first arrived in the Middle East a year-and-a-half ago, had become, by this past fall, a reflection of my sedentary lifestyle here. Whereas I walked at least a couple miles a day when I was in New York City, the furthest extent of my mobility was to schlep my rear end into the elevator, pass through the lobby of my office building, and into a taxi waiting outside.
You know your life isn’t what it should be when you consider rigorous exercise to be a leisurely walk around the food court in one of Dubai’s many shopping malls. I’d also used the U.A.E.’s oppressively hot weather as an excuse not to do anything active whatsoever – unless it involved finding a meal in a food court. But even if the activity involved being within an air-conditioned space, I managed to make excuses about the heat.