Complex Made Simple

Business meets fitness: Q & A with James Heagney of Dubai’s d5 gym

Maintaining the balance between your health and career has always been a challenge for the business executive. How do you attend to your training and health without compromising your work?

James Heagney, head of the d5 gym located in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), has found the solution. Taking a scientific and nurturing approach to fitness training, as well as a time-conscious method, his 5-dimensional gym experience is not to be missed. His Executive Express Workout is a 1-hour desk-to-desk workout intended for the time-constrained executive. The program is so efficient, you can complete it during your lunch break, making sure you don’t neglect your health during your pursuit of success.

AMEinfo spoke to Mr. Heagney to learn more about his unique approach to fitness training, and his one-of-a-kind Executive Express Workout.

James Heagney, creator of the d5 experience

– Why did you move to Dubai?

I’d been working primarily with business executives in the UK and then there was an opportunity to move to Dubai, and to bring a level of service to what had currently been offered at the moment. What we offer is very personalized, very individualized for business executives.

READ: The Psychology of Success

– How did you come up with the 5-dimensional (d5) approach to health?

I came up with the d5 approach to training around 12 years ago. I’d been working in the industry as a personal trainer and I realized very quickly that if I was working with yourself for example, and you have a goal of losing weight, then typically just doing the training side is very one-dimensional. So you might do a little bit of training, a little bit of nutrition but I quickly realized as a part of my career that I actually needed to have more answers to the client and be able to call on different skill sets and different qualifications and specialties. So, I started to travel around the world, learning from world-class people whether it be in nutrition or training or cultural medicine or sports therapy. So I was ostensibly working on a lot of qualifications and I realized that every single journey that I had with a client I’d take into a 5-dimensional approach. So, for example, if I had you working on a 12-week programme, and your goal is to lose weight, I’m not just going to train you in the 5-dimensions, I’d also use a 5-pronged approach to getting results.

So, number 1, which is exercise. Number 2 is nutrition, which is a personalized nutrition plan written by qualified sports nutritionists who’ve worked with me for the UAE Olympic team as well.

Then, we’re doing the 3rd dimension – supplementation. We’re looking at things like digestion, managing stress, and lab testing. We’re looking at the physiology of the client as well, not just what the client looks like on the outside, but what they also look like on the inside because that helps to dictate what type of exercise and nutrition that we give them.

The fourth is restoration. We currently have 4 different sports therapists working at d5 which specialize in pain management, to be able to work on knee pain, back pain, or shoulder pain because you are limiting your ability to move and exercise if you’re in pain, so that’s a huge part of that. Every session has an element of tissue work, as well as improving flexibility and motion.

The fifth dimension is about education, and the idea for that is that we want to teach the client about everything as much as possible. You find that in the health and fitness industry, there’ a lot of people putting a lot of effort into the wrong advice. Many people make very bold claims in this industry and it’s very unsubstantiated – it’s not backed up by science. We have some of the leading sports therapists and trainers in the whole Middle East, and our reputation so far a leading personal training base facility in the Middle East, with the qualifications, the specialties and the culture that we have. We’re teaching clients about everything, we’re not really telling them how to train, how to eat, how to sleep, how to look at their own body, their heartbeat, their blood pressure and even more information about their health. They can actually manage their own health outside the gym, which is part of the d5 model – teaching people, empowering them, to make the decisions themselves.

That was all put together because I realized that was the process I was doing 12 to 14 years ago with clients, so I packaged that together and brought it over to the Middle East and now it’s been working based out of DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) specializing for executive clients.

EXCLUSIVE: A woman in business flexing her muscles in UAE fitness

– So you basically educate your clients to take this new mentality and approach to health and fitness beyond the d5 gym, and into their everyday life.

Absolutely, yes, they can pass on to themselves as well as their families.

– What is the Executive Express Workout, and why would you recommend it to business people?

With the Executive Express Workout, we have two classes per day during the week – at 1pm and 7pm. The idea that we’re looking for here is a desk-to-desk workout. They can be seated at their desk at one moment, then they could leave their desk and head for the gym to have a 30-minute workout, then shower and change. We then give them a post-workout shake for post-workout nutrition and they can be back to their desk again within one hour. It allows the busy business executive who has a lot of work to do to still be able to prioritize their training and actually get it in within the lunchtime. The idea is that we’re very highly specialized working with a lot of CEOs and managing directors who have a lot more time to commit to their training, and we wanted to offer the d5 method to a lot more people .

– So you basically offer this service to executives based in and around the DIFC?

Technically, it doesn’t matter. You can come from anywhere in Dubai, but we find that obviously from a time-perspective it helps to be based in the DIFC.

– Who would you say is your exact target audience? CEOs, middle management?

Our normal target clientele is at the director or CEO-level, that’s the majority of our client base. The Executive Express is actually open to any business executive. We are open to all executives of the DIFC.

– Why would you recommend your gym to the time-constrained businessperson?

The location, for one. We are located at the heart of DIFC. But in fact, our staff are the leading in the Middle East – they are genuinely world-class staff. So for the business executives who expect a high amount of quality from the restaurants where they eat to the airlines that they travel – they want the same from the gym as well. They want to know that when they’re getting their advice from their fitness professionals, they know that they’re at the top of their game and that they’re world-class. It’s very important – they value that information.

– Finally, how’s the turnout been to your gym? Is the d5 approach proving popular to fitness enthusiasts?

We’re currently doing over 700 one-on-one training sessions, and now we’re opening up the Executive Express. We’re hoping to increase the traffic there.

READ: 5 tips to become a professional networker