panorama – december 2012 – hundred routes to health

Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates method, once said that “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”  And who are we to argue with the developer of one of the most popular forms of exercise, which has a wide range of people from athletes and dancers, to celebrities and pregnant women hopping onto the Pilates Wheel.

Asma Hilal Lootah, founder and owner of “The Hundred Pilates Studio”, is one of those people who discovered her happiness in Pilates.  After acquiring her Bachelor’s degree in Business in the US, Emirati-born Asma returned to the UAE in search of a new business idea.  She worked at Etisalat for five years, but during that time and being the sport-enthusiast that she is, Asma enjoyed practicing different kinds of sports, from aerobics to scuba diving and even climbing Mount Fuji.  Speaking to Panorama, “For two years, I practiced Pilates devoutedly and the results I got out of it were unprecedented.  I realised that Pilates was what I was looking for.  Besides becoming physically fit, I developed better posture and became more mentally focused that ever before,” says Asma after discovering Pilates in 2002.

The avid sports and businesswoman continues to explain that Pilates benefits body, mind and spirit.  “On a a mental level, it will help you concentrate more and control your body and mind to work together in harmony.  On a physical level, it increases flexibility, develops core strength, and improves posture.  If you practice Pilates regularly, it will change your body.”

After the place where she used to train had shut down, Asma decided on finally manifesting her love for the exercise by opening the first locally-owned studio, “The Hundred Pilates Studio”, in Dubai’s Healthcare city in 2008.

“As a Dubai local female, I was looking for a place where I can practice Pilates and have my privacy respected.  All the places that I found at that time either had male instructors or mixed classes.  That was when the idea of starting my very own Pilates studio sparked” she explains.

Fully equipped to get you fit and healthy, The Hundred Pilates Studio serves to everyone’s likings when it comes to the exercise environment and method. All of the Pilates teachers are licensed by Dubai Healthcare City and with PMA certified certifications, the classes are more focused and attention-giving with a limited number of six people per class, and it is the only one in the UAE offering Gyrotonic in private to one to one sessions.  Moreover, whether a male or female, the studio ensures quality time for requested one-on-one sessions.  Not to mention ensuring a ladies-only environment for covered females.

The question remains however, of what kind of response Pilates has received on the local scene?

Asma answers, “There has been an increased interest on the importance of exercising and fitness among the Emirati community.  At the beginning when I first opened in 2008 not all knew what is Pilates, but now most Emiratis do and once they start they love it, and they recommend it to their friends and family.”

Furthermore, discussing the high levels of obesity and diabetes in the country Asma suggests that public awareness should be created to pique people’s interests, possibly through prize-winning competitions, marathons, educating parents, and even encouraging a variety of sports activities and healthy lunches at schools.

Even though Asma considers herself to be both physically and mentally fit, she is persistent on maintaining this health privilege that she has worked so hard on earning.  Currently, the determined sports-lover is pursuing her Pilates certification to become a trainer.  Her workout routine includes following a programme that consists of 950 hours, three times a week, part of these hours are personal workouts, observations hours, lessons, and practice teaching.

Driven and passionate, Asma led her business towards success when in 2010 she won a Sheikh Mohommad bin Rashid Award for Young Business Leaders under the health category.  Also, Asma was recently chosen as the 2012 Emirates Woman of the Year, having won the Achievers category of the Emirates Woman magazine contest.

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