Q&A: The Fitness Playground’s Nirvana Zaher

When it comes to fitness and training, Nirvana Zaher’s name goes hand in hand with the two. As a professional athlete and now the head of LAX gym in El Gouna, the fitness fanatic has a lot more up her sleeves when it comes to whipping people into shape.

Tell us a bit about your fitness background.

photoAs a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), I believe in a holistic, preventative and integrative approach to fitness. I specialize in human performance and corrective training strategies, incorporating principles from yoga, weight lifting, gymnastics, sports conditioning and fundamental motor development techniques in my programs.

In addition to a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology, I am also certified through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), a veteran spinning instructor through Maddogg organization, creator of The Bootie Camp Project, founder of Pole Fitness in Egypt and an ambassador to the National Strength and Conditioning Association in Egypt and the Middle East.

Moreover, over the past six years, I have been educating and empowering people through courses and workshops in fitness education, assisting anybody with a passion for health and fitness towards a career in this field.


30What is The Fitness Playground all about? What is TFP’s philosophy and what makes it special?

Fitness has evolved into a holisitc practice, thus integrating training concepts from a wide collection of disciplines. Yoga, martial arts, weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics, extreme sports and the moving arts are finally uniting under one ceiling to bring us a comprehensive training approach that merges MIND, BODY and SPIRIT. TFP promotes this avant-garde training philosophy by offering three services catered to people in the health, sports, and fitness industry: Elemental Coaching, Business Consultancy and Fitness Education.


Tell us more about Elemental Coaching.

TFPlogoElemental Coaching™ is a term we came up with in order to bring our training programs to life. Training programs are based on our central theme which is visible in the TFP logo. FIRE: the powerful tiger. WATER: the dynamic dolphin. EARTH: the agile horse. AIR: the high-soaring eagle. Not only our planet, but also the entire universe is formed from material particles in the act of the four elements.

EARTH workouts are grounding, technically sophisticated, and organized. They are almost always consisting of exercises performed standing up, with the feet making full contact with the ground, and are inspired by a fusion between yoga, Pilates and weightlifting.

FIRE workouts are explosive, dynamic and unpredictable! There is a significant contrast in the tempo of movement and the muscle elasticity needed to produce it. Fire exercises are metabolically challenging and are great for weight loss and fitness.

WATER workouts, on the other hand, require that the exercise is performed in a smooth and timely manner. Water workouts incorporate tai-chi and other martial arts techniques and may, at times as the name suggests, use actual water. These become very effective for the training of balance and muscle endurance.

AIR workouts are slow, refined and accurate, using ropes, suspension cables and various stability balls for suspension. Air exercises challenge the central nervous system and are the primary catalysts to accuracy, one of the most underestimated fitness components.


What’s the most common misconception you’ve come across related to health and fitness?

plankI cringe when someone tells me: “I don’t train with weights because I don’t want to look like a body builder.”

Firstly, body building is not the only practice that uses weights for training. Weight lifting – or let’s refer to it as strength training – has been practiced by many for the sole purpose of strengthening muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue. To build muscles like those of a body builder requires a ridiculous volume of training with very heavy weights.

Moreover, what people don’t understand is that for body builders to look the way they do requires that they eat in a very particular manner, with a steady consumption of various different supplements needed for muscle hypertrophy.

Therefore, TFP Elemental Coaching™ programs use functional exercises that promote the development of long, lean, athletic, and active muscles – with weights! According to science, muscle burns fat. Therefore, if you want to lose weight, you have to gain muscle.


What motivates you?

image (22)People who are driven, dedicated and proactive throughout their day-to-day life are always a source of inspiration for me. I admire people who set goals and follow through with a systematic plan in order to achieve them. People with a ruthless sense of survival and a zest for life are a breath of fresh air in a world where the system is designed to make us fail.

Challenging experiences are important for long-term growth and success. Skimming the surface and never really taking a plunge will keep you mediocre; and nothing is more unattractive than mediocrity. Take small challenges every day in order to keep you on your toes – learn a new skill, tie your shoelaces while standing on one foot, anything that’s going to make your heart skip a beat!

Challenge yourself, challenge people around you, and tackle every difficult situation that comes your way with a sense of light-heartedness, and a play-like, wide-eyed bring-it-on attitude.


What’s your advice to people who have hit a slump or plateau in their diets or fitness routines?

1978791_594156147328450_1290149302_nSwitch it up! The body is an intricate system that is cleverly designed for survival. Therefore, if you do something long enough, and consistently enough, you will stop seeing results. In science, we call this principle adaptation.

Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Make sure to change your training depending on your goals; and make sure to change your goals depending on your needs.

And finally, educating and empowering yourself on the many tools and resources out there regarding health and fitness is a crucial stepping stone en route to your fitness destination. Read, listen, engage in conversations, and of utmost priority: EXPERIMENT and EXPLORE!

You’ll never know what works for you unless you try, and try long enough to give your body a chance to adapt.


IMG_9528What’s your quote to live by?

Although difficult to choose just one, by far one of my top favorite quotes has got to be by Dr. George Sheehan, running legend and best-selling author of eight books on the benefits of exercise. He once said,

“Fitness has to be fun. If it is not play, there will be no fitness. Play, you see, is the process. Fitness is merely the product.”

Frankly, I couldn’t find a better quote to live by at The Fitness Playground.


WE SAID THIS: You can contact Nirvana directly at n.zaher@lax-gouna.com and check out www.facebook.com/tfpredsea for more information.

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