Are you hitting the gym and watching what you eat yet still not seeing results? EW’s Alexandria puts one of the UAE’s best to the test

TEAM MEMBER: Alexandria Gouveia

TRAINER: Inger Houghton the Head of Nutrition at SHP and a licensed personal trainer of two years.

THE GOAL: With my wedding looming (July 12) the pressure is on to be in top shape. My aim is to lose weight and maintain the loss, tone up and get fitter.

REGIME: Following a consultation with Inger in which my diet and fitness was assessed and my weight and body fat measurements noted, it was agreed that for four weeks I’ll conduct three sessions of strength training with Inger and two days of cardio in between. Inger thought my diet was already good so recommended a few changes: eating a bit more to avoid too much snacking between meals and excluding soy products as they contains plant estrogens that can raise estrogen levels and therefore lower your testosterone levels – not ideal for weightloss.

The strength training included hourly sessions in which I performed a variety of exercises using weights and my bodyweight including weighted lunges and squats to Bulgarian splits, extended planks and pull ups – lots of them.

On the cardio days I was advised to avoid long distance running, which burns muscle, and concentrate on interval training to help speed my metabolism. I decided to do the odd spin class as well as a recommended session, which included 12 minutes of interval training – sprinting for 45 seconds, resting for 10 by way of jumping to the side of the treadmill. This is then followed by core exercises such as the plank.


I went from having done one pull up my entire life to 30 (aided, but still). I walked home because I couldn’t lift my arm to hail a cab. By the end of the week I felt aches in muscles I didn’t even know existed.

My cardio sessions included spin and an intense 12-minute interval run – incline of 1.5 and running speed of 15km. I ended the run flat out on the gym floor.


The strength training sessions were tougher as Inger increased the weights. I felt the burn in my glutes, shoulders and calves. Food in my fridge was moved to the middle shelve so I could reach it without wincing. After one heavy workout my legs shook so much I literally fell down the stairs into a flowerbed.

Cardio this week consisted of spin and another interval run, this time at a speed of 15.5km. It ended, again, with me breathing heavily on the gym floor, before two minutes of planks.


Feeling stronger I was overzealous in my workouts and hurt my back. As a result I ditched my cardio sessions and Inger lowered my weights and worked on strengthening my core. A muscle relaxing massage at The Spa at Address Marina also helped.

WEEK FOUR: A week off on a press trip to Europe saw me struggle – too much pasta and no exercise set me back fitness wise and the first session this week was tough to the point I stopped to vomit before continuing. The following session however saw me back on form carrying heavier weights and taking less breaks. I definitely feel my fitness and strength has increased.


Total centimetres lost: 3cm

Body fat percentage: Down 0.6%

BMI: Up 0.2

DETAILS: SHP is located in Swiss Tower, cluster Y in JLT. Personal training prices start from Dhs250 for one-to-one, Dhs175pp for pairs or Dhs150pp for small groups. SHP also boasts therapy practitioners who treat injuries. shpdubai.com


10 deadlifts

10 push press

10 back squats

10 pull ups (assisted with band if necessary)

10 dips (assisted with band if necessary)

10 bent row

All movements (except pull ups and dips) are done with weighted barbell. No rest between exercises, two minute rest after last exercise of the circuit, then repeat four times.


Watch this space as we share more PT Challenges, as seen in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Emirates Bride