Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- It is rare, nowadays, to find any young Saudi men in their 20s, who doesn’t work out in the gym, so much so, that the shape of young Saudis has changed dramatically over the years.
Bodybuilding is rapidly gaining popularity amongst young people in the Kingdom, with private gyms popping up across all of Saudi Arabia. As more and more Saudis traveled abroad and their fashion sense moving away from loose fitting clothes, except to work and on formal occasions, concern about appearance grew. The appearance of a fat bellies is now feared by young men as it makes them feel obese, ugly and inadequate.
Nasser al Motlaq, who runs a local gym in Riyadh, told Asharq al Awsat, physical exercise has a whole range of benefits. It helps reduce psychological pressure and channels their anger and energy, in addition to the numerous health benefits.
“Young men are more aware of their appearance and want to build their bodies. As a result, the number of gyms and bodybuilding clubs is set to increase”, said Tariq al Omar, a gym owner.
Ahamd al Ateeq, a gym enthusiast and personal trainer, said many young men do not realize the real benefits of working out. “Unfortunately, the sport has a bad reputation in the media because a small number of young men only think of it as a way to show off their muscles. In fact, it has numerous benefits.”
Walid al Saleh, who has been going to the gym for the last five years and is proud of being very fit, said the increasing popularity of bodybuilding is an international phenomenon. “What happened in our countries resembles a social uprising against fat, chubby figures and protruding bellies. These attributes make a man ugly. This is why many men go to the gym and build their muscles. It’s not hard but you need a strong will.”
The media, according to fitness instructor Amar Ahmad, plays a crucial role in promoting fit and toned bodies. “Some young men join the gyms on a temporary basis, such as newly weds who want to show off their muscles to their wives and later abandon the sport. Others want to join a military college and need to be fit.
Abduulah, Hani, Ibrahim, Zeid and Fahd, who regularly use a gym, all agreed that young people in Saudi Arabia recognized the importance of practicing sport and want to take care of their health and bodies. Going to the gum, they added, increases one’s self-confidence.