By Coach Sara
You have probably heard this a bazillion times from fitness instructors: “Ramadan is not the time to start an exercise program”
That is mainly true. Ramadan is a time to turn your attention inwards and focus on your spiritual wellness. So the only fitness goal you should realistically aim to pursue is maintaining your strength during this month and practicing some light, moderate exercises.
So this year I wanted to experiment with pre-iftar Ramadan fitness classes in several of Riyadh’s gyms. I chose classes that I have done before– but not while fasting– to test whether I can maximize the detoxing benefits of fasting.
3 tips for an awesome work out while fasting:
1) Go for a low-intensity cardio, 60-70% of your usual intensity. This is so you don’t sweat too much, thereby losing too much water while you’re fasting. Find the ideal beats per minute for your body by calculating 60-70% of your maximum heart rate (which is 220 minus your age).
2) Break your fast with water to replenish water lost during your workout (aim for 1-2 cups)
3) Have a mindful breakfast. After an hour or so of fasted cardio your intestines will be working on cleansing themselves. Be gentle with your food choices and take it slow.
Here are the classes I attended on the first week of Ramadan:
Day One: Fasting Detox Yoga at Sukoun
An hour and fifteen minutes of gentle moving, stretching, breathing and twisting. These twisting exercises are believed to have a detoxing affect on our internal organs.
Combined with fasting, meditation and a relaxing environment, I was in for a treat. This class was special to me because it was the first time I felt a vibrating energy circulating throughout my body. I literally left with goosebumps on my arms.
Thirst thermometer 3.5/5
Day Two: Spinning at KORE
Sweat, sweat and more sweat. We went on a ride on the second day of Ramadan and boy did it feel good! I was instructed to take it easy but the competitive side of me went all out. The good thing about this class was that it ended half an hour before
Maghrib prayer, so by the time you leave the gym and get home, you can literally dunk yourself in a bucket of water.
Thirst thermometer: 5/5
Day Three: Stretch and Tone at Nuyu
A gentle class of complete body stretching. Ideal after my fasted cardio and long day at work. From pigeon poses and downward dogs to child poses and forward bends. Such stretching exercises not only relaxed my muscles but they improved my mood and alleviated my headache. So drop on the mat and hear dem muscles crack.
Thirst Thermometer: 1/5
Phone number: 920007576
Day Four: Gong bath and Meditation at Sukoun
Back to Sukoun again for my first gong bath ever. A gong is a musical instrument that takes the form of a flat, circular metal disc, which is hit with a mallet. A gong bath is a form of sound therapy that literally means you are being bathed in sound waves.
The gong sound works on brain frequencies to bring you into a meditative state while lying comfortably on your mat. It was a super interesting experience and to top that up, my one-hour bath was followed by an hour of meditation and pranayama (that’s breathing exercises in yoga language).
Thirst Thermometer: 3/5
Day Five: Blissology at Sukoun
It was a Friday and the class was overbooked. A two-hour pre-iftar blissfulness and yumminess. A combination of all the previous classes I have attended at this yoga studio from twisting and stretching to gong bathing and om-ings. I floated back home.
Thirst thermometer: 3/5
Day Six: Antigravity Yoga at Soul Warrior
OK! So, I have basiphobia (fear of falling down) so the idea of hanging upside down from the ceiling was intimidating to me. It was my second aerial swing class. The first one was awful and the second was awful-ish but I’m glad I conquered my fear and told that swing who was boss. Antigravity yoga improves your circulation, strengthens your core, arms and back muscles. It also has a rejuvenating affect so it keeps you young and helps you get rid of cellulite (natural botox anyone?).
Thirst thermometer: 4/5
Day Seven: Pre-Iftar Circuit Cardio at Fit Forever Fitness
So imagine a cardio class on steroids to fit as many cardio moves as possible in 30 minutes. A fast, short and effective class that left me sweaty and fighting to catch my breath. The instructor asked us to bring a mat and poor little me thought it was time for shavasana (yes I speak yoga), but it turned out to be a 10- minute abs workout. I felt muscles burn my abs I didn’t even know existed. If you prefer working out without music during Ramadan, this is the class for you.
Thirst Thermometer: 4.5/5
Phone number: 0118100111
In my experience, working out before iftar is both enjoyable and efficient. It makes me feel lighter and cuts down on indigestion after breakfast, as well as freeing up my time at night with my workout crossed off my list.
The only downsides were the timings of some classes and the terrible traffic on the way home.
Bottom line, whether you want to work out before or after iftar, choose a time that is best for YOU.
Coach Sara is yoga and spinning enthusiast, a flexitarian and a book addict. She is the first Saudi Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and a Certified Clinical Dietitian, aspiring to inspire a holistic approach to a healthy happy Riyadh since 2014.