Slow and steady wins the race

Expert advice on how to ensure you stay on track with your fitness goals well beyond January.

‘New year, new me’, is a phrase confidently announced by countless number of people as the clock strikes midnight on 31 December each year. Invariably however, it is, for most, back to the ‘old me’ by the end of January, with fitness goals abandoned.

“The biggest mistake is saying, ‘new year, new me’; it doesn’t happen and never will,” says Gustav de Matos, Master Trainer at Fitness First, Abu Dhabi Mall. A gym goer for 27 years and training coach since he was 19, Gustav, who is highly qualified, speaks from experience.

“While many may have the motivation at the beginning of the new year, most lack the discipline that it takes to achieve their goals in terms of fitness,” says Gustav. “Motivation can get you started, but what’s going to push you to what it is you actually want to achieve, be it weight loss, strength and muscle building objectives and performance goals, is discipline.”

Seemingly, then, motivation is straightforward. “You tell yourself you are going to get fit, so head to the nearest sports store and invest in sportswear, equipment and even take out a gym membership. The problem is without self-discipline, you are going to fail, and fast.”

Tamara Al Azzam


For those going it alone, getting fit can seem like an arduous journey, more so if you are not confident in the gym, which is why Gustav recommends you hire a fully qualified and knowledgeable personal trainer. “It’s a must if you truly want to achieve your goals and something that is really useful at the start of your keep fit journey,” he adds. “If your car breaks down, you take it to a certified mechanic. It’s the same if you are starting at the gym; find a good personal trainer to put you on the road to success.”

“You have to prioritise yourself if you want to succeed beyond the first month of the new year,” adds Tamara Al Azzam, a personal trainer at Royal Gym Abu Dhabi Ladies Club. A sports enthusiast since her early school years and an active volleyball player, Tamara is expert in free weights, weight training and in supporting people in changing their lifestyles.

“People fail in their efforts as they put conditions,” explains Tamara. “People tell me they have a wedding or engagement in a month; therefore, they just want to develop themselves within a set time. I challenge them asking if after the event, they will go back to their old habits and if that’s the case, I won’t train them.”

Tamara’s ultimate goal is to teach clients how to adapt to a new lifestyle, which, she says means “putting yourself first. You are the most important person in your life, and you need to prioritise your health, not just when you have time.”

This, of course, means setting clear, achievable goals. “Many people do not have realistic goals,” says Gustav. “They want to gain muscles in a month or try to lose all the fat they gained in one year in one month. Goals must be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, rewardable and tangible,” he says.

“If you have difficulty setting long-term goals, then take it step-by-step,” advises Tamara. “Make daily plans, such as what you’ll eat that day, and aim to head to the gym three times a week. And if you have a family, you’ll also be teaching your kids indirectly and setting them up for good future habits.”


Follow Gustav on Instagram @coach_gustavo_de_matos_pt and Tamara @tamara.gustavo2021

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Image source Gustav Matos

Derek Issacs

A Brit in the Middle East for 25 years and counting, Derek loves scouring the streets for those under-the-radar cultural gems. And when he’s not putting Yalla – Abu Dhabi magazine to bed, you’ll find him working out at the gym.