How to Train Like a Pro: The Secrets of Three Arab Female Athletes

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Nike Train Like An Athlete
Photo: Courtesy of @NikeWomen

From what foods to eat to what moves you should be doing, there is a whole lot of conflicting information out there on how to get fit and healthy. As such, Savoir Flair reached out to the pros who know best. Speaking to some of the region’s fittest females, we found out their top tips on getting, and staying, in shape. Regional athletes and Nike ambassadors Amna Al Haddad, an Emirati weightlifter, Fatma Al-Nabhani, an Omani tennis player, and Raha Moharrak, a Saudi mountain climber, revealed what keeps them motivated, which workout moves they swear by, and what foods they always have in their fridges. Read below for some great fitness secrets, straight from the pros.

What is your ultimate workout song?

Fatma: I like songs that help keep me at a steady and intense pace. I listen to a lot of ‘Top 40’ songs as well as power songs like ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry and ‘Burn’ by Ellie Goulding.
Raha: I love listening to an audio book while I’m hiking.

What do you eat on a typical training day?

Fatma: Nutrition whilst training is really important, so I stick to healthy meals such as pasta and vegetables with fish or chicken, or a little bit of beef. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth or a craving for junk, so I am safe on that front.
Amna: Oats with egg whites, meat or chicken, rice or potatoes, fat-free cheese, cottage cheese, a couple of protein shakes in the a.m. and in the p.m., cereal, and the occasional ice cream!
Raha: I believe in eating whatever I want, but in moderation. And I never snack badly.

What is your go-to cheat meal?

Fatma: We Arabs love our homemade grub. I really love Omani shuwaa, a very traditional Omani rice dish.
Amna: White sauce ranch pizza!
Raha: Anything with Nutella!

Amna Al Haddad Weightlifter
Amna Al Haddad

What is the most common myth you’ve heard when it comes to training?

Fatma: There are a lot of training myths out there, ranging from “women who lift will get bulky” to “women need to train differently than men”, but I think the most prevalent one is that your fat turns to muscle when you train, and that muscle turns to fat when you don’t. They are two completely different things, and one cannot turn into the other.
Raha: That you need to drink eight glasses of water daily and to go on a gluten-free diet to lose weight.

What is your favorite workout on the Nike NTC App?

Fatma: My new favorite is Maria Sharapova’s ‘New Year’s Crush Workout’, which helps me build speed, strength, and stability. It only takes 15 minutes, and having been designed by a tennis pro, it’s on-point when it comes to helping me achieve my training needs.
Amna: Core Crunch!

What do you wear to train in?

Fatma: My super-trendy and lightweight Nike gear. I have managed to create a look for myself that blends my fashion sensibilities with my cultural leanings and reservations. Women in tennis do get their style scrutinized, so I am glad to have been able to work with Nike to create a look that is conservative yet stylish at the same time.
Amna: My Nike weightlifting shoes most of the time, and awesome breathable Nike outfits.
Raha: Anything Nike!

What foods do you always have in your fridge?

Fatma: Loads of vegetables, fruit, and fresh juices.
Amna: Eggs, milk, chicken, cottage cheese, and ice cream.
Raha: Lots of vegetables.

Fatma Al Nabahani Tennis Player
Fatma Al Nabahani

What is your advice for someone who wants to get fit, but doesn’t know where to start?

Fatma: Set a goal and take the first step towards achieving it. There are a number of free tools out there, like the Nike+ Training App, that allow everyday athletes to get started and to stick to a disciplined program. It provides expert advice from the world’s best coaches, and it features the exercise regimens of superstar athletes like Serena Williams as well as super-fit celebs like Ellie Goulding. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket that organizes, inspires, encourages, and celebrates with you.
Amna: Just start with a walk — that’s how I started. Then explore until you find what you love.
Raha: Fall in love with a sport.

What motto inspires you?

Fatma: “No pain, no gain” and “Work hard in silence and let success make the noise”.
Amna: “Keep going no matter what. Crawl if you have to! Just don’t stay still.”

What workout move do you find most effective?

Fatma: I really like core workouts, as they give me foundation strength, so I pack in toe-touches, Russian twists, and planks into my training sessions.
Raha: Squats and step-ups.

If you weren’t a professional athlete, what would you want to be?

Raha: An astronaut!

Raha Moharak Mountain Climber
Raha Moharak

Photos: Courtesy of Nike

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