OPEN THE CLUB GATES

Kuwait 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Abdullah Al Askari, Managing Director of CClub, on the role of the club in society and why it has been so successful.

How would you describe CClub's brand and clientele?

CClub was designed by the owner of ALARGAN, which wanted to create more of a social club rather than a typical health and fitness facility. Of course, the company did all the construction work and engineering. Due to the services provided and the high annual rates, this place usually attracts high-net worth individuals, people who can come in, socialize, and do business networking. We want to have the “crème de la crème" of society and we are happy to serve them with whatever needs they might have, whether it is dinners, lunch parties, corporate events, personal training, or health issues. Moreover, there are all the health and fitness services, like a gym, spa, swimming pools, and squash courts. I think our outdoor pool is usually the number-one attraction. Plus, now that we have a Michelin-star chef, people like to come and dine and hang out. At the same time, CClub is the face of ALARGAN. Usually when there are guests from overseas or board meetings, it is held here. This is how they present the company—with this facility. Most of our members are locals, but we do have a percentage that are from the Gulf region, from Europe, and from the US. Members who use our facilities are instructed by health and fitness professionals. For example, our head squash trainer is a former world champion and both our swimming instructors were members of their respective national teams.

What would you say is in the future of ALARGAN in terms of health and fitness?

To answer this, we have to go back to the basic business of ALARGAN, which is building medium-income housing facilities. This is how the company started and how the company emerged, but, after a few years, they started getting into the commercial side of the business, which is establishing hotels, restaurants, and eventually into gyms. We hope to have a health facility in every country where ALARGAN is present as well. This was the initial idea by the owner: wherever there is a project, there will be a gym or a health facility like this one. Seeing the different income and revenue between the housing and the commercial side is what attracted them to expanding the health and fitness industry within the company itself. Another big part was the global health and fitness trend that they certainly wanted to be part of. For instance, one of the main megaprojects under construction right now is a 4,000sqm physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinic. This idea actually emerged as another gym, and then the more we sat together with the owner and the chairman, everyone was convinced there were already enough gyms in the country and the area, so we had to be different in some way. I have seen many trainers who are showing interest in the physiotherapy side to differentiate themselves from regular trainers. There is a direct link now between physiotherapists and personal trainers. They are getting certified to be physiotherapists or rehabilitation coaches, which is the future for fitness and sports rehabilitation.

Diabetes is a major health concern across the GCC. How would you describe health and fitness concerns in Kuwait?

Over the past five years, there has been a lot of awareness, especially among 20-30 year olds, yet teenagers and children are the most affected by diabetes. I would like to see a solution for the child obesity and diabetes problem. It starts with the government taking the initiative and then major companies sponsoring programs or school activities or camps. It has a lot to do with gadgets and too much PlayStation and iPad time. Kids do not want to move anymore. When we grew up, all we could do was play sports. We did not have these gadgets. To fix this issue, we have to start from the home. As a parent, it is important to set the examples where children usually imitate their parents; if the parent is active then the child will want to be the same. Also, the schools have to mandatorily include sports or physical activities or exercises in the curriculum itself. We try to raise health awareness by consulting our clients and members on nutrition, wellbeing, or getting rid of bad habits. On a bigger scale, being a lecturer and a nutritionist, we also educate other trainers from other facilities and we certify them as far as sports nutrition is concerned. I hold a lot of workshops and training sessions for sports nutrition here in Kuwait. I have been recently asked to speak at Kuwait University regarding sports nutrition and the link between it and exercise and physiotherapists.