Saturday, 9 October 2010

Bahrain: The state of a nation

Somedays, I wake up and I know its going to be a long, difficult day. Things dont seem to line up right, I feel a bit too tired to go to work but not so tired to call it off. I feel hard done by and curse the long hours and my hard luck...

Then somebody phones you late at night and tells that a friend (and client) has died of cancer aged 41, leaving a teenage daughter and husband behind. In comparison, my bad days don't even come close to those who were close to Cherryl Chisholm. Everytime during our sessions we had a great laugh in the gym and i'm sad i will not get to share more time with her again. She was an absolute star.

I will miss you Cherryl x

Hello everyone,

This blog has been on my mind for a while... well, about 2 years actually. I keep hearing horror stories and seeing ridiculous things involving people, food and lack of exercise. Its time i exposed the truth and whats really going on here in Bahrain.

In a previous blog i mentioned that i hate fat kids' parents and i like to retract that statement. I actually despise them, how they leave their kids make nutritional choices based upon the colour of the packaging. Before i go into a rant i will share with you the main problems.

All the facts in this blog are taken from stories i have heard, seen or been told over the past 3 years here in the middle east.


When i was a kid, life was simple. I got up (after a good nights sleep) had breakfast and walked to school. I played football or cricket at playtimes and hated maths. I walked home, ate my tea then went to the park to play football with my friends (until dark) then went to bed... repeat. That was my entertainment, it was all about moving, playing and having fun with my friends.

Now, the world over, kids are waking up and checking their blackberry for any BBMs (i hate that term) from other 10yr olds... what the hell do they talk about?? Breakfast MUST be laden with sugar and additives because they dont like anything else and Mummy and Daddy are too busy to care whats good food and whats not so they dish out the Coco-pops everyday.

I'd rather have a bowl of... type 2 diabetes!

They are tired from late night PS3/Internet chatting (often with older perverts - very often german) that they can't concentrate in school and therefore hate the whole experience of learning.

In Bahrain, the easiest thing to say is "there is nothing to do". I know, i have said it myself. As an adult, If it does not involve eating and drinking there is very little options here. However, if you are willing to move around a bit and (god-forbid) exercise! there are plenty of different activities. But the problem is the kids. they dont want to do anything, they see entertainment in Bahrain as the mall, the fast food and maybe the cinema... and thats it. They have turned to technology for entertainment and they are totally addicted!

I have a friend who's child will not eat for hours because they are chatting online (probably to a german librarian) and using all of the alloted internet time they have been allowed. The mere suggestion of an athletic interest is returned with absolute disguist.

Kids are addicted to modern technology

Of course, the result of this is that the children of Bahrain are not learning any physical skills/lessons. The closest they are coming to a fall or bruise is when they are playing WWE wrestling on the PS3. I am getting kids in the gym that cant even get in positions to stretch and perform basic human movement because they have never learned or needed to do it.

I have trained a 9yr old boy trying to get in shape and lose weight. If that doesn't tell you things are wrong in the world then nothing will. Im happy to help out but i also feel quite sad - and often wonder what i was doing at 9yrs old? Did i know what a gym was when i was 9? Im pretty sure i didn't.


During our assessments at RCC, i ask a question about sleeping patterns. How do you sleep? What times? etc. to get an indicator of how stressed a person may be. A recent assesment went like this:

Nathan: What time do you go to sleep?
Client: 6am
Nathan: What the f@#*!
Client: But i do wake up around 1pm

Honestly, thats exactly how it went. i had to dig further into this and it is apparently very common for Bahraini  youngsters to stay up all night. i have heard that it is actually 'fashionable' to stay up all night and be exhausted the next day. Apart from thinking "ok, thats weird" i tried to work it out. In order to be able to stay up all night, you must not be tired... which leads back to daily activity. If you are not doing any activities in the day, you will not feel tired at night. Add to this a diet full of sugar, caffiene and additives and you have the perfect cocktail of stimulants for an all night internet chat session.

Little Johnny concentrating after an all-nighter.

There is so much wrong with not sleeping at night, i cant begin to start in this blog. All i can say is any child that is doing this will have major physical/emotional problems by the end of their teens and will probably end up seriously unhealthyin aged 21, wondering how they got in such a state. WAKE UP KIDS! well, go to sleep... you know what i mean.


I could be brief here and say the diet in Bahrain is SH** but you probably want to know more than that. The locals live on rice and bread. enough said. Family life in the middle east is based around a huge gathering involving crazy amounts of food. It would be hard to break free from, im sure. A few of the locals i have managed to change, saw results immediately.

After 1 month of training, 1 client (aged 21) lost 11lbs and started to regain some strength only to never return to the gym. His reason... it's too hard. Tragic.

The supermarket food is limited and you have to pay well over the odds for decent European vegetables ('Decent' meaning they are probably 5 days old when they arrive). Also the thriving take-away delivery business in Bahrain is well used. Every restaurant has an army of scooters ready to deliver heart-attacks to your doorstep.

Is there a quicker way to become fat?


I can't really go overboard here as im not a parent (so my views are purely theory). What i'm seeing in the shops, malls and other places is that the trouble with these "problem kids" is all down to the parents. The kids are out of control because there is no discipline. Most families here can afford a nanny, so the 'burden' of bringing your own child up can be substituted for a lifetime of coffee mornings, afternoon tea and around BD150 a month (about 220 quid). The nanny's (often Indian/indonesian) obviously have no authority or control on the children, who are quickly turning to selfish, talentless brats overnight. Family meals are taken at a fast food restaurant on weekdays and weekends, believing that the 'food' they are eating is ultimately good for them. wrong, wrong, wrong.

Just today i noticed an incident where the child was being yelled at by a stressed and depressed, overweight mum. If you own body is 'mal-nourished' then your child doesn't stand a chance. Some of these parents look generally miserable at the prospect of sharing time with their kids - they all seem tired, fat and constantly hungry for coffe and junk food. A viscious cycle?

I could go on a world-class rant here but its best to leave it there. Check out my earlier blog on hating fat kids' parents.

I recently heard a story about a 5 year boy who demanded a golf cart for his birthday so that he didn't have to walk around anymore.

Also, did you hear about the boy who had a stroke whilst watching tv, aged 9.

Or how a maid quit her job (heart-broken) because the youngest child in her care was addicted to mars bars and was eating a box a day (24 bars @ 250cals each)

Seriously, what the F#!* is going on?

A pretty common site in modern households

Talent/work ethic

If you combine all of the above points you are left with a child who has limited physical talent. If i was harsh i would call them a 'motor moron' - a person who is unable to perform basic human movements on command. Since moving to Bahrain i am constantly encountering 'motor morons' who also have a natural dislike of hard work! As a trainer, it really is 'scratch your head' time in terms of program design and exercises. How do you teach someone to stretch, bend, etc? A: its tough.

I believe there is a direct link with poor quality food consumption and 'motor morons'. These people are not strong because they have no nutrients in their bodies, their brains do not send the right signals to the muscles to move, the problems are at a deeper level than just exercise technique and muscle tightness. I often spend the first 3 weeks with a client working through a mobility program (future blog) and the results are always amazing. I wonder what trainers (who don't know anything about mobility) would give this type of clients?

A: They put them on strength machines, where everyone has perfect technique! and never address faulty movement problems to fix the problem.

Ok im done.

I will leave you with something i listened to on my Ipod at my gym today. It comes from a narative before a dance song called "Choose Life' from the film "Trainspotting". One of the films of the 90'sthat you need to watch.

'choose life, choose a job, choose a career, choose a family'
'choose a f*cking big television'
'choose washing machines, cars, compact disk players and electrical tin openers'
'choose leisure-wear and matching luggage'
'choose a 3 piece suite on higher purchase in a choice of f*cking fabrics'
'choose DIY and wander round your garden on a f*cking sunday morning'

Now here is the part that i like:

'choose sitting on a sofa watching mind-numbing game shows stuffing junk food in your mouth'
'choosing rotting away at the end of it all in a miserable home being nothing more than an embarrasment to the 'selfish f*cking brats you made to replace yourselves'
'choose your future, choose life'
'i chose not to choose life - i chose something else'

Renton chose heroin, not interval training

Now, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) admittedly was talking about taking heroin everyday. But im talking about looking after yourself and use the gym, eat healthy, live your life while you're young - not plan for when you're old. No-one is saying to go bungy jumping everyday, just plan to do fun and exciting things every few weeks/months... not the same old shit, week in week out. As you read earlier, one of my clients Cherryl died at the age of 41 this week, and it made me ask myself a question "Am i happy with my life and love what i do?' A: Yes and there is more to come.

Can you answer the same? If not, what can you do to change?

If you like, please comment or Share on facebook (button below) and spread the word.

Thanks. Next blog "Green Faces Diet: The results"


  1. What is the ideal breakfast for Frida, Nath? She mostly has fruit or porridge...

  2. hmmmm... well if i had a child i would focus mainly on organic stuff. i know its more expensive but your portions tend to be smaller. Organic Oats with fruit and maybe some walnuts, pumpkin/sunflower seeds for extra protein and fibre. fruit is always a good choice. Not sure i would get into eggs evryday for babies but would definately start incuding them in her diet (omega 3 and whole when possible)

  3. I've never seen this blog! its great and so true and very sad. I have encountered so many people like you described...EVERYWHERE!!! Especially the kind that don't have time for their children. I've seen Asian moms stuff their kids with instant noodles for dinner, Bahraini moms feeding their kids crisps as snacks, and English moms giving their kids bright blue candy in supermarkets... Parents have just lost it. You need a license for everything these days, except being a parent.

    In Bahrain everyone uses the excuse of Bahrain being Small, and the weather being crap to sit at home, watch tv and do nothing...

    When in fact, there's plenty to do here! all you need is the will to go out and do it.


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