Menna Yousri has a passion for fitness! Her motivation level is apparent from her Instagram posts and every email exchange that I’ve had with her. She lives in a part of our world not typically known for its devotion to fitness and health but she’s not letting that stop her! Rather, she’s taking up the challenge to spread the life changing knowledge of physical fitness to her entire culture and the world! Find out how she caught the iron bug and why she thinks it’s so important to share it with everyone she encounters!
Menna, thanks for taking time to share your story. I have to admit that my knowledge of Kuwait is limited to the small section of Camp Victory I visited in 2004 so let’s start with some background information. How popular is fitness and exercise in Kuwait?
It’s currently booming in my opinion as more people are becoming aware of the importance of physical activity. I would still say the ratio of men who are into weight lifting and regular training is still higher than women here. Women here would prefer going to diet doctors and getting prepackaged meals from diet centers in order to lose weight rather than getting into the gym. I believe the main reasons would be they think they will get bulky and/or they don’t know what they are supposed to do at the gym except maybe using treadmills and elliptical machines. That’s why group exercise classes are very important to women when they join a gym. Zumba is very popular!
Do most people train in commercial gyms or are home gyms a normal part of life over there?
Most gyms in Kuwait if not all are gender-based gyms. Maybe a couple aren’t; but most are gender based. So having to train around the opposite sex is not a reason for women not to join a gym.
Okay so why did you choose to train at home?
I believe gym memberships in Kuwait are expensive with prices ranging from a minimum of $170 and up per month depending on the gym equipment, location and trainers! I believe this is one of the reasons why other women don’t join gyms there too. Secondly, being a mom of two and juggling a new career it’s a great time saver to train at home instead of driving somewhere. Kuwait is a small city but it is well known for its terrible traffic another reason women prefer to join a gym very close to their house.
Due to my husband’s job, we have to move a lot; almost every 3 years we change countries. In addition, there are frequent visits overseas visiting families or going on vacation. So being able to workout at home has helped me a lot in being consistent with my training and giving me that mental relief and feeling of accomplishment.
Your Instagram bio says that you are a certified personal trainer, nutrition & fitness coach. How did you get your start in fitness and nutrition? Where did you train?
I started my fitness journey by only running on treadmills (it was to the extent that I purchased a treadmill everywhere I lived, I own 3 treadmills so far!) besides going on a calorie restricted diet. I sure lost weight but still I wasn’t comfortable with how my body looked. It wasn’t until years later after I had my second child and Instagram became a thing, that I became more aware of clean eating, the importance of weight lifting for women and how it can transform their bodies. This happened through following a number of trainers and fitness enthusiasts. I ended up purchasing a program online and that’s when it all started.
I always had the nutrition awareness but seeing the changes in my body strength and shape as I continued weight training lit a flame inside of me. My mindset and my passion for training and nutrition grew bigger every day. That’s when I decided I wanted to learn more and so I researched and ended up applying for ACE Personal Trainer certification. My first thought was that I wanted to change people’s lives the same way my life changed. Being healthy and fit has helped me become a better mom, better wife and a better family member and caregiver. I want that for everyone!
Two times CBBF national Champ, Mahmoud El Durrah, is a good friend of mine and I have been on several of his workout plans and I learned a lot from him. Michael Morelli, owner of Morellifit; his social media posts played a big role in increasing my awareness not just towards training but other mindset aspects as well. I joined his social media marketing course and that’s what pushed me to startup my Instagram account and start motivating people through social media.
I’m currently studying to get my CSCS and I’m very passionate about nutrition as well. My passion to learn has no limits. I am constantly applying for courses! I visit the US almost twice a year as I have family living there and one of the first things I do when I get there is join a gym. I love attending the gym classes and seminars they usually offer as it increases my knowledge and broaden my perspective. I am very passionate about what I do and I genuinely want to help people understand that it’s never too late to achieve any goal you have in mind especially fitness and weight loss goals. I believe consistency and hard work is key to achieving goals and a strong and determined mindset would help you lead a happier, more productive life.
The CSCS exam was pretty tough when I took it in 1996. I never should have let that certification lapse but I thought I was done with the fitness industry as a profession! Oh well, shows what I know. I know you’ll do well at it. Why did you choose that rather than the NSCA-CPT though? Are you planning on training athletes?
I don’t know really but I made some research online and all the feedback came that the CSCS is one of the best certifications a fitness professional could get. I don’t have a specific plan to train athletes as well but I’m always open to new opportunities. I’m reading the book now and doing my best to learn as much as possible.
Here in the USA it’s normal for men to have a female trainer and vice versa. Kuwait is a fairly liberal culture and women have freedoms there that they don’t have in other Muslim countries. As a female trainer do you have mostly male, mostly female or a mix of both genders as clients?
Most of my one on one clients are women so far. Middle Eastern women, like women everywhere are always looking for that perfect body although they prefer having curvy bodies to skinny ones. Thanks to social media I believe, they became more aware of how weight training can transform their bodies and help them lose fat faster. This has helped me a lot getting clients as I offer the professional experience in addition to the convenience of going to their homes to workout or having them come to my home gym.
So your family moves every three years. Do you have to adjust how you train clientele when you move to other Muslim countries or does it not matter because you train only women right now?
As for training in Muslim countries it really doesn’t matter. Nothing different is done. I did some training in Egypt too in a mixed gym and it was no problem.
I think fitness is an international language that people around the world who like it and into it speak.
Do you plan to train male clients in the future and do you offer online coaching/training for men and women right now?
When I first started I thought that I wouldn’t attract male clients as their personal trainer especially Arabs; the funny thing is; now most of my online coaching clients are Arab males !
I don’t mind training men as well in the future (I have trained a couple of my guy friends and my husband so far).
Looking at your Instagram feed it’s hard to tell how often @mouzuoo trains at home. How do you balance training yourself at home and your clients elsewhere or is everything done in your home?
I work out in my apartment in my kids play room where I own a few pieces of fitness equipment like dumbbells, a barbell, jump rope, stability ball, a TRX, arm and leg weights, kettlebells and mats. I also have a gym in my building which is very common in most buildings here. And that’s where I have access to the treadmills and elliptical machines in addition to some dumbbells. I would workout with my clients in both gyms. When I got to my clients’ homes, I usually take my weights and equipment with me.
You had a very informative post on how to train during Ramadan when Muslims fast until sundown. Do you find that your clients struggle to combine their goals with that sort of intermittent fasting?
The annual month long Ramadan observance is indeed a version of intermittent fasting where Muslims abide from eating from dawn until sunset. In addition to the religious reason behind fasting is raising awareness of how the poor feel, what they have to go through with no food or money to buy food and why it’s important to help people in need constantly.
Unfortunately, most people tend to overeat during Ramadan and this month is well known for its delicious and special treats and desserts. It is also the time where there are a lot of family and friends gatherings over food, which may sabotage any diet.
People get lost when it comes to training in Ramadan due to fasting. Some people can’t workout fasted especially without water. There is lack of sleep as Muslims wake up in the middle of the night to eat before dawn and also shortage of time due to public prayers and family gatherings. In addition there are many misconceptions regarding training while fasted.
I love intermittent fasting and I believe it is a powerful tool in weight loss if done correctly!
What are your favorite pieces of home gym equipment and where do you purchase your equipment?
My favorite piece of equipment would be dumbbells and I believe they are indispensable. They were also the first things I purchased many years ago. I always use coffee tables as benches, chairs and my kids’ bathroom step as my fitness step.
Amazon.com is very famous here and I guess this is where people would purchase their fitness equipment online.
I also got the TRX ropes from the US during my recent visit as I thought it would be interesting for my clients.
How can people get in touch @mouzuoo to take advantage of your services and how can they follow you on social media?
DM on Instagram or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org!