Lahore-born Shahbaz Haider has always been a fitness fanatic. He took up fitness training in 2005 after graduating from Punjab College of Commerce (PCC), Lahore, with a bachelor’s degree in commerce.
Over the past 17 years, however, fitness training in Pakistan was a non-existent profession because of a lack of interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
While working as a quality assurance supervisor at Warid Telecom and training clients in the fitness industry on the side, Shahbaz had no choice but to hunt for job.
When he arrived in Dubai for the first time in July 2010, he had no idea that his side hustle would become his full-time job. He soon realised during that brief tour that the Middle East’s most colourful and cosmopolitan metropolis has a huge yet untapped market for fitness.
For many residents of Dubai, a sedentary lifestyle combined with a diet heavy in calories is a surefire way to gain weight quickly. Having completed a four-week certification course from the American College of Sports Medicine, Shahbaz was able to land a job at a gym in Dubai.
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In March of 2012, he changed jobs and kept on track for the following three and a half years, refining his skills and getting his driver’s licence before making the leap to become a personal fitness trainer.
“It was a perfect time. Introduced REPS UAE, which stands for the Register of Exercise Professionals in the country. Shahbaz joined REPS UAE as its 23rd member, and now the group’s membership numbers in the thousands.
An instructor’s professional image might be improved in other ways as well by being a member of REPS UAE. It distinguishes a well-trained and dedicated instructor from a less-experienced one. Members of REPS are required to hold a recognised and accepted certification as well as a commitment to continued professional development,” he explained.
In 2013, there were just three to four functional training schools in Dubai. Shahbaz spent about Dh20,000 on MeFitPro’s functional training certifications.
A few months later, he was certified in TRX, ViPR, Kettlebell (boxer size), and trigger point massage, which made him a champion personal fitness trainer when he started his own business in November of last year.
He was a huge hit with his customers as a result of his work, and the positive word-of-mouth publicity he received was priceless.
Personal fitness training has undergone a sea change as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic. People are becoming more health-conscious and placing a higher value on nutritional supplements.