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Monday, June 13, 2011

At Maxx Fitness, you can get training advice from an Olympian

Ahmed with some of his trophies.
Annandale’s Maxx Fitness, has something you’re not likely to find at any other gym around here: The owner, Ahmed Ragheb, is a weightlifting champion who has competed in the Olympics. You’ll find him at the gym most days, advising clients on weightlifting techniques and the proper use of the fitness machines.

Ahmed was the top U.S. weightlifter in his class at the U.S. National Championships in 1998. He won gold medals at the U.S. East Championships in 1998, setting a record of 418 pounds in clean and jerk and again in 1999, setting a new clean and jerk record of 423.5 pounds.

Among his many honors, he was the African Continent Champion in 1989, won three silver medals at the Mediterranean Championship Games in Greece in 1990, and won gold medals at the Virginia State Games in 1993 and 1994.

 Ahmed competed in the Olympics in Seoul in 1998 and Atlanta in 1996. Unfortunately, his attempt to participate in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney ran afoul of international politics in the aftermath of the war in the Balkans. An American of Bosnian/Egyptian descent, Ahmed had hoped to represent Bosnia-Herzogovinia at the games in honor of his Bosnian mother who had passed away just a few months earlier.

After qualifying to be the sole weightlifter on that team, however, he was ejected from the team a month before the games due to pressure from Serbians who didn’t appreciate his “ethnic makeup.” Despite lobbying efforts on his behalf by members of Congress, there wasn’t enough time to resolve the situation before the games.

Despite the presence of some hardcore bodybuilders at Maxx Fitness, no one should feel intimidated. You’re likely to find plenty of casual exercisers of all ages and sizes working out there.

You can also sign up for a massage with a certified massage therapist or personal training from a certified fitness coach. Among the classes included with membership are yoga, body tone, step, and cardio workouts. Pilates and Korean dance classes (with a Korean-speaking teacher) are available for an extra charge.

Maxx Fitness, 7060 Columbia Pike in Annandale, is open 5 a.m.-11 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekends.

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