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Tue 9 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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The way to wellness

Fitness Instructor of the Year Devon Graham tells Louise Oakley why he thinks Quantum Health Club at The Monarch is unlike any other fitness facility currently operating in Dubai.

Fitness Instructor of the Year Devon Graham tells Louise Oakley why he thinks Quantum Health Club at The Monarch is unlike any other fitness facility currently operating in Dubai.

It has been little over a year since Quantum Health Club opened at The Monarch Dubai and already its manager, Devon Graham, has been awarded the accolade of Fitness Instructor of the Year at the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2008.

With 20 years' experience in the industry, including roles in New York, Berlin and Abu Dhabi, coupled with a genuine passion for helping clients to achieve harmony and balance in their lives, it's not difficult to see how Graham has made his mark in Dubai's fitness industry.

Where else in any hotel health club can you walk in and get a thorough health screening?

Graham explains that it was his background internationally, which began with a Masters degree in sports science and exercise physiology from New York University, alongside research into the Dubai market in the summer of 2007 that gave him a clear focus for the direction of Quantum.

"I visited all the hotel and commercial fitness properties in Dubai  to make an assessment with regard to what they were doing and what they were not doing; there was so much lacking," observes Graham.

"In lots of cases operators didn't really address the market that they were located in and it's critical that the product is market specific. I realised that Dubai has the potential to address the corporate fitness and wellness market; to enlighten employees with regards to balancing their wellbeing and to stimulate an awareness of wellness and fitness," he says, adding that this was a perfect fit for The Monarch, a business hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.

"My personal belief with regards to fitness is that it needs to be addressed from a holistic viewpoint. Traditional exercise where you to the gym and work out is very limited and it doesn't lend itself to being balanced, because one has to address the mind and the body," continues Graham.

"When there is disharmony in mind and body, there are health and wellness related problems and that is what I wanted to address at The Monarch. I presented my concept of what the health club needed to be to our general manger back in June 2007 and it hasn't been changed to date," he says.

Graham was helped in the development of the concept by the fact that hotel operator Refad Hotels and Resorts had already earmarked the entire fourth floor of the hotel for the health club, which includes a gym, a mind and body studio, ladies-only gym, luxurious changing areas and an outdoor swimming pool with spacious terrace.

The combination of facilities enables Graham to offer lifestyle-specific programmes; something he believes is essential to addressing users' needs.

Graham explains: "If you have an interest in using the Quantum Health Club, what I need to do is find out everything about you with respect to your needs and why you're curious about Quantum. And that's where we're different from all other health clubs in Dubai. We appeal to the unique needs of all guests and members."

This process involves a thorough consultation and health screening, addressing risk factors, orthopaedic conditions and lifestyle matters, and a series of tests. The list is extensive: blood pressure, body composition and obesity assessment using the Inbody machine, glucose and cholesterol tests and movement and posture analysis.

"The screening addresses health on a very detailed level and people are very receptive to it because we're revealing information to them that they wouldn't get unless they went to hospital when they were really sick," says Graham.

A significant percentage of people in Dubai are not aware of their health issues, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, he says, which means they find it hard to define their fitness goals.

"Usually when we sit with our prospective members, in lots of cases they're not really aware of their goals. They know they want to feel better or that they might want to lose some weight, but as we go through all the details of the assessment and the health history questionnaire, everything becomes clearer. We set goals together and form a team to address their goals together.  If they don't succeed, we don't succeed."

It's this member-centric, personalised approach, which extends right through to ensuring there is always someone to hand a member a towel or clean their sunglasses by the pool, that Graham says makes Quantum much more than a hotel gym.

"It's not a gym by any means, and it's more than a health club. Where else in any hotel health club can you walk in and get a thorough health screening, your cholesterol and glucose levels, a nutritional consultation with your work out and to address the need for rehabilitation," asks Graham.

"If you have a slipped disc, a dislocated shoulder or problems with facial muscles, we can take care of that. That doesn't exist anywhere else in Dubai.

"Our mission is to get people to be aware of their state of wellness and educate them; giving them information that they can pass on to their friends and family," he continues.

"We're not just focused on what's going on in here, we're actually trying to make an impact on the corporate community with respect to the health of the corporate community," he says, adding that making such an impact is as important to the success of the club as financial profitability.

With Quantum Health Club currently developing a loyal membership base and Graham's recent recognition by the industry, it seems he can be quietly confident that such an impact will be made. However, Graham is not one to rest on his laurels; another reason for his success no doubt.

"I'm very restless when it comes to wellness and fitness; I believe in innovation. The facilities are complete, but when it comes to programmes and technology in the fitness industry there's a great deal going on that is not even here in Dubai yet. I'm very interested in introducing new concepts and programmes, not just for Quantum Health Club but for the community as well. I'm always looking for new, different ways to do things and keeping up to date on the trends and the latest equipment and training techniques. We've got to be at the cutting edge and stay there," says Graham.

"Plus, Refad Resorts and Hotels is expanding and moving into other businesses in Dubai. There's a lot more to be done; I'm basically just warming up," he laughs.

Winning words

The Hotelier Middle East Awards 2008 were held on 12 November at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai with 500 industry guests from across the region.

Graham was one of five health club professionals shortlisted for Fitness Instructor of the Year, with the competition including Daryn Berriman, assistant recreation manager at The Palace, The Old Town, Dubai; Luminita Stoican, fitness instructor, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai; Moustafa Mahmoud Yaseen Ahm, fitness instructor, Al Marooj Rotana Dubai; and Ole Jorgen Brom, fitness instructor at The Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel & Spa.

On winning the award, Graham said: "The Quantum team is my strength and this award is for each member. They are a dedicated group of fitness professionals, cohesively committed and consistently ensuring that they are offering positive results to our guests and members.

"As manager of the Quantum Health Club, my focus is and will continue to be the application of knowledge, innovation and most importantly, the warm gentle care of my staff and guests, to produce positive results and of course positively impact the health of the corporate community in Dubai".

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Vikas 11 years ago

Having met Devon Graham and understanding how his concept works, I can give first hand recommendation to anyone for Devon Graham and the Quantum Health Club. He is a thorough and experienced professional. I am proud to be a part of Quantum club client and would recommend without hesitation to anyone especially after I have been to some of the top health clubs in Dubai but Quantum is by far the best and that is because of passion of Devon Graham. Keep up the good work ! Thank you Graham