Day 30: The End of the Beginning

f3fe888174da7a7b7c999361c73b1c7fLike the perfect piece of chocolate, the end of a challenge month is always bittersweet.

On the morning of Day 30, I feel a massive sense of accomplishment. Who would have ever thought that Serene Touma (me) would ever exercise at all, let alone thirty days in a row!

I feel empowered, energetic, sore and a little concerned about what my final challenge workout will entail.

Continue reading Day 30: The End of the Beginning

Day 29: Solitary Swimming

On Day 29, I am determined to do the one fitness activity I secretly hope I will love: swimming laps.

Olivia Pope makes swimming look so cool
Olivia Pope makes swimming look so cool

After watching Kerry Washington swim laps as Olivia Pope in her amazing white one piece on Scandal, and Robin Wright as Claire Underwood go for her solo runs in House of Cards, I have my heart set on discovering my own über-cool and solitary fitness activity to pursue. Continue reading Day 29: Solitary Swimming

Day 26 and the Modern Treadmill, Day 27 Sees Some Squash and Sunshine, and a Footballin’ Day 28!

This weekend is an active one. As the last in the challenge, I am on a mission to make it count.


Continue reading Day 26 and the Modern Treadmill, Day 27 Sees Some Squash and Sunshine, and a Footballin’ Day 28!

Day 25: HIIT me Bibi one more time!

High Intensity Interval Training: The four scariest words in my (revised) English language.

On Day 25, I find myself at a meeting in Mall of the Emirates: Shake Shack staring me in the face, Häagen-Dazs teasing me out of the corner of my eye, and the little gelato place trying to get my attention. Ignoring them is not easy, but I make it happen.

Continue reading Day 25: HIIT me Bibi one more time!

Day 25: ‘Rise and Shine’

It’s been a long day, and I’ve decided to sacrifice posting on time for some much needed sleep to rest my muscles, so instead of the full post about Day 25, I really wanted to share just this for now.

photo-3I wake up after several snoozes to messages from Bibi and Yara suggesting another game of squash (yay!) Through sleepy eyes, I respond “Yes please”…

…I start to doze off again, having slept at almost four in the morning the night before, but before I do, I do a quick refresh on my email and find the amazing wonderful inspiring spectacular gem in my inbox, courtesy of the equally superfluously worthy Yara.

Little does she know how much I need this today. So close to the finish line yet not quite there yet…

But I won’t ruin it with any more of my words. I will leave you with this beautiful poetry instead.

Yara — a thousand times THANK YOU!

Day 24: Tracy vs. Cassey

Day 24 is not without its controversy.


gwyneth-paltrow-tracy-anderson-280Tracy Anderson is a name familiar to any woman who has ever read a gossip or fashion magazine. Trainer to the stars, Tracy is often mentioned as the amazing, out-of-this-world, unbelievable, I-wish-she-was-my-best-friend fitness guru who keeps Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakira, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez looking every inch their sexy selves.

Continue reading Day 24: Tracy vs. Cassey

Day 23: Reformed

Download the Real Pilates app in the iPhone app store
Download the Real Pilates app in the iPhone app store

On Day 23, with nothing planned, I book myself into the 6:15 Reformer Pilates class with Olivia at Real Pilates.

Is it uncreative? Maybe, I’ve done it before — twice — and I wonder if I may be running out of “last minute” fitness activities I can do when I have no time to plan, and no one offering to sweat with me. But is is a cop-out?  Pilates is never a cop-out.

Continue reading Day 23: Reformed

Day 22: Sunday Stroll

Thea ready to walk in the sunshine!
Thea ready to walk in the sunshine!

If you live in the Middle East, Sunday mornings are never pretty, and rarely are Sunday afternoons. The prospect of having to exercise can’t possibly make the existing disagreeableness any better. So when I wake up to a pleasant message from Thea suggesting an early evening walk in Dubai Marina, I am comforted by the fact that today’s workout will be on the lighter side.

“Don’t I deserve a break?” I think to myself.

Continue reading Day 22: Sunday Stroll

Days 20 & 21: Pretty Fly for a Weekend

This weekend, I do something I would have never previously fathomed doing. Not in a million years. I wake up early, too early for a weekend, to work out, voluntarily.


At 8:15 AM on Day 21, my metamorphosis takes more shape, and another epiphany begins to emerge… I find myself making logistical arrangements for myself and three other challenge supporters: Abla, Anoud and Monia, the last of whom has flown in to Dubai for what seems to be the purposes of first burning calories and then consuming calories… The perfect combination, or so we’d all like to convince ourselves!

Continue reading Days 20 & 21: Pretty Fly for a Weekend

Day 19: Charlie’s Angels

On Day 19 I meet Charlie. Short for Charlotte, Charlie is a down to earth and no-nonesense personal trainer who, through word of mouth, trains quite a few fitness enthusiasts in Lana’s circle.

How awesome is Lana?
How awesome is the digitally-challenged Lana?

Day 19 is also only the third time that I ever see or meet Lana. In life. So how I find myself in a gym somewhere in Marina doing burpees and mountain climbers with two women much fitter than me who I barely know is beyond me.

Continue reading Day 19: Charlie’s Angels