Photos by Aiza Castillo-Domingo
"My day starts at 4am normally. This is mainly just so I can get my own training in before having to get Bertie up for the day. But a few times a week I also have early-morning PT clients.
“I do my training at home in the local area, or I use the cycle track at Nad Al Sheba or Al Qudra. My PT sessions are usually at people’s homes or in their neighbourhood... at their local park, or beach.
“Most mornings James and I tag-team. As I finish my training, he goes out for his. So he’s up and ready to be out the door at 6am when I get back. I literally walk in as he walks out. It means he can get his training done before going to work and then he doesn’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. Neither of us are night people so training in the evening is a very rare occasion!
Traditional gender roles
“I guess we’re a little traditional with how we separate our roles at home. I’m very much in charge of shopping, meal prep and kitchen duties. James keeps on top of the bills, banking and life admin – all of which I’m terrible at and hate doing. So without fail, I’ll always do the shopping, make dinner for all of us and our meals for the day ahead.
" I try to make sure there are always home-made energy balls in the fridge and more recently home-made banana cake too – my husband is a like a baby... he needs to eat regularly! I normally sort Bertie out in the morning while James is training and getting ready for work, but if James is home and I’m running late, then he might find Bertie’s clothes being thrown at him while I load the car, or brush my hair.
“As my husband and I both train for triathlons it can be tricky to fit our training in on a day-to-day basis without compromising on family life. We love our sport and try to still compete to the best of our abilities, despite family constraints.
“At the moment we tend to train early morning, one after the other, so Bertie is either asleep or just getting up. Over the weekend we train together as its far more efficient and we’re generally always home by 9:30am to have the whole day with Bertie. Bertie is used to seeing us sitting on the bike in the car port, or coming back from a run. He loves to point out that ‘Eww! You’re all stinky and sweaty’.
“I love that he is growing up with fitness as an everyday part of life. Many a time I’ve ditched a training session because he’s had a bad night or is awake at stupid o’clock. When this happens I tend to stick him in the pram and go for a run. It’s a nice time for us to chat although now he’s older, he gets a bit impatient half way through so I’ll let him watch Peter Rabbit or Thomas the Tank Engine on my phone.
" I went back to work part time when Bertie was seven months old and financially it made no sense for us to put him in a nursery at that time. So he just started this September at age two-and-a-half and he goes three mornings a week.
"He’s settled so well and is always full of beans when I collect him. Just yesterday he was teaching me songs he’s learnt there. I love that he has his own special space away from home. He’s really enjoying all the arts and crafts and is excited about his winter concert in a few weeks.
"We also have a lovely nanny, Monica. Bertie and Monica have a wonderful relationship and we’re very happy he has another adult in his life he can look up to and trust when our family is so far away.
"We were very clear when we employed Monica that we we’re not like other families, so her hours may be a little odd. She covers some of our early morning training sessions and looks after Bertie on the days he’s not at nursery. We made the decision that my work would stay part-time so I could still be around for Bertie for half of the day. When I’m home, she clocks off for the day. Caring for Bertie is obviously her priority, but she also does housework around him, too.
An inner motivation
" My schedule is very busy but really only in the mornings until I finish work. Then it’s my time with Bertie where we either have chores to do or we can just hang out. We’ve never relied on two full-time salaries so when I went back to work after having Bertie I was very lucky that I could continue working part time. We could give up training tomorrow and our mornings at least would be much more chilled. That’s not going to happen though!
" I think to live a life like this, you have to love what you do. Personally I love training, how it makes me feel and seeing myself improve. Having goals and ambitions to work towards keeps me motivated, even with the 4am alarm! Being able to help other people feel this, too, through PT is a very privileged relationship. On a practical level, I have to work, I’m just lucky that I enjoy it so much.
"My downtime is in the evenings. I stop functioning after 7pm! And weekends... we’re very lucky that most weekends are family time – although I don’t know if you can classify being with a two-year-old as downtime. Long runs, or cycle rides, are also a great way to get lost in your thoughts and away from the daily grind.
"On Friday mornings, James and I are up at 3:45am to go cycling. Saturdays we have a lie-in until 5:15am and then we go swimming – now the weather has cooled, we do this in the sea. The rest of the day is ours, bar the usual chores, birthday parties, etc. We joined Privilee a few months ago, so we’re generally in a pool somewhere, or at a beach. Like most kids, Bertie loves swimming and we love watching how much he improves on a week-to-week basis.
Battling the alarm clock
"Of course I have mornings where the alarm clock goes off and I don’t want to get up! I’m not Wonder Woman! The months (lots of them) when Bertie was younger and was awake a lot in the night made it really tough. I listen to my body though and, if I can feel I’m too tired, I won’t go. We tend to go to bed early, so this doesn’t happen often.
"On the whole, once you’re up you feel fine. I’m a morning person – I absolutely love being one of the first up and out in the morning and always have done.
"I’d love to say how lovely it is to watch the sunrise but I’m usually home and in the shower by that time!"
A typical day in Zoe’s life
4am: Wake up and get training – either a 16km run, or at home on a bike, or cycling at a race track
6:30am: Get Bertie up and get him ready for nursery while getting herself ready, having breakfast, etc
8am: Drop Bertie off at nursery
8:30am: First personal training (PT) client of the day
10am: Second PT client of the day
11.15am: Third PT client of the day
12:30am: Collect Bertie from school
1pm to 4pm: Grocery shopping, cooking, chores, writing PT programmes
4:30pm: Bertie has a play date or a swimming lesson
5:45pm: Bertie’s dinnertime and bath time, getting ready for bed
7pm: Bertie into bed
7:30pm: Chilling out at home having dinner with hubby or training her last PT client of the day
Follow Zoe on her Instagram page: @fitmum_dxb. To find out more about personal training with Zoe, email firstname.lastname@example.org