#360fit: Yoga at work for you

Kara Martin 19/01/2017
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Take your yoga passion to the next level.

Yoga is so big today that there have been whole university degrees developed around it at progressive schools in the US, so it seems we’re finally catching on to all the ancient education the mind-body discipline has to offer.

Here in Abu Dhabi, teachers at the American Community School (ACS) in Khalidiyah are getting a yogic education of their own, too, thanks to local Yogini Neli Merris, who is trying to encourage yoga in the workplace, whether for you that is a school or office.

In general, corporate wellness should be an essential part of any company, whether that means a weekly yoga class on company grounds or organising an annual sports day to encourage camaraderie and fun and fitness. Seeing as it is becoming more and more the case that employees work longer shifts across the UAE, it certainly helps that they enjoy their work as well as their co-workers.

Making the workplace a friendlier, healthier place by offering on-site amenities such as yoga can drastically lower employees’ stress levels and increase mental clarity, which can then improve their performance and productivity, as well as reduce their number of sick days. It’s a win-win situation for both boss and team.

Neli, with her brand Anaadi Yoga, wants to draw more attention to that; to connect with employers and employees across the city to raise awareness of how well a little yoga after work goes hand in hand with a much improved work day for everyone. And, so far with ACS, she has gathered some impressive results.

“Teaching is all-consuming – we need to be present for each student all day,” says ACS teacher Diane Bahrenburg. “We suffer from what I call ‘compassion fatigue’. Yoga helps me fill my cup back up, so to speak.”

“Practising yoga with Neli has provided me with the tools to centre myself, to take care of myself, to pay attention to my breath and to notice where I hold stress. Neli creates a peaceful space for us to recharge.”

Fellow teacher Katie Shaler adds: “What I really love about Neli’s class is that we stretch every part of ourselves – mind, body, spirit – and that helps me feel renewed and more focused in my day-to-day activities.”

“I have become more mindful of my breathing throughout the day. If I find myself getting tense or feeling stressed, I begin to take deep yogic breaths. I’m also finding myself being able to look at the full picture of a situation, rather than just that moment.”

We all know too well how certain days of the work week too can make you feel particularly down in the dumps – such as the first day of the week and the slump-inducing hump day. Another teacher, Anne Russell, believes Neli is helping her combat that feeling, too, with her twice-weekly visits.

She said: “Her yoga class makes Sundays and Tuesdays so much easier to think about because I know I will finish the work day feeling less beat-up. Calm, peaceful and gentle are just not part of the daily pace of life as a teacher.”

And of course one massive benefit of this wonderful idea is its convenience – the yoga comes to you, right at work, and you needn’t worry about whether or not you’re going to make it to the studio or gym later after you’ve gone home.

In fact, among Neli’s other corporate wellness plans are quick-fix options like ‘Desk Yoga’, where, instead of hitting the floor for a lengthy session, employees can soak up some goodness right at their stations in their suits and skirts. It includes easy-to-do seated postures, some breathing, meditation and visualisation exercises.

She is also a seasoned Raw Food Coach and can tailor packages to include easy raw food preparations so that healthy snacks become a regular part of the office environment. Brain food.

“I love that Neli is able to come to ACS and I find her class the one activity I look forward to the mostin my week,” says Jennifer Brooks. “I have a very busy schedule (as we all do) and can only commit to yoga once per week. Here I don’t have to race to a gym to find a space and work out with strangers.

“Being able to work out with colleagues gives us a sense of togetherness that we may not experience during the work week. We are a large campus and not always able to see one another. Attending yoga classes together strengthens our collegiality.”

“All of our bodies are different. Our levels of fitness vary but thanks to Neli’s calm voice and encouraging instruction, we all receive the same benefits from her class. I am grateful Neli has entered our lives to share her passion with us. She is definitely making a positive impact on our wellbeing.”

For more information about Neli and Anaadi Yoga’s corporate wellness solutions, as well as regular private and public yoga offerings across Abu Dhabi, visit www.anaadiyoga.com or contact her on 056 602 0690, or email [email protected]

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Six athletes proving age is just a number

Jess Walter 18/01/2017
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Some of the most incredible athletes on the planet.

Ask anyone on the street whether being in shape is good for their health, and they’ll almost always say yes.

While many people believe that sports and fitness are reserved for younger generations, getting in shape, improving physical health, and making waves in the community is something that anyone of any age can accomplish.

Whether they’re going to the gym daily or conquering the Senior Olympics, senior athletes are making waves in the fitness community.

JACINTO BONILLA

Jacinto Bonilla is a CrossFit athlete who competes at international level. Impressive, sure, but even more so for the fact he is 77 years of age.

Bonilla’s not the youngest competitor by far, but he is one of the most successful and even has a workout named after him, the Jacinto Storm, involving several repetitions of squats, bodyweight exercises and deadlifts with weights over 90 pounds.

Currently, Bonilla is an instructor at a CrossFit studio in Brooklyn where he trains students of all ages and experience levels.

ROBERT MARCHAND

Robert Marchand is known for setting cycling records, not for speed, but for his age. At 105, he set the latest record for the longest distance covered in an hour for his age group.

He rode around a velodrome for a total of 14 miles (22.55 km) and shows no signs of slowing down.

The athlete believes that cycling is something everyone can do, whether they’re 12 or 100 years old. Marchand cycles every day on an indoor trainer at home to stay in shape and prepare for his next record trial.

LOUIS SELF

Louis Self is a renowned Kiteboarder based out of Arizona, commonly known as Arizona Lou.

The sport is typically the domain of younger athletes and daredevils, but Louis continues to make waves as one of the oldest kiteboarders around.

At the age of 74, he wants to push the limits, pursue the thrill, and help other people realise both their dreams and their goals.

ED WHITLOCK

Ed Whitlock is one of the fastest senior marathon runners around.

In October 2016, he completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in an astounding 3 hours 56 minutes 34 seconds, making him the oldest athlete to complete a marathon in under four hours.

At the age of 85, he is redefining aging and forcing both society and science to re-examine what the human body is capable of.

YUICHIRO MIURA

Yuichiro Miura is a Japanese mountaineer famed for initially setting the record for the oldest man to summit Mount Everest.

He reached the top of the mountain when he was 80 years old in 2013, and though the descent was filled with complications, Miura plans on making a bid for the summit again when he turns 90.

Despite several operations and health problems, Miura continues to ski and inspire people of all ages to live an active lifestyle.

PEGGY MCDOWELL-CRAMER

Peggy McDowell-Cramer is one of the oldest competitors to qualify for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, HI.

At the age of 57, she ran her first IRONMAN triathlon and now, at the age of 75, she is the oldest woman to qualify for the race.

She credits her success in the sport to treating it as a part of her daily life and doing what she enjoys most.

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#360fit: How to train for a trail run

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Trail runs take in challenging terrain.

Trail running is a sport that consists of you running and hiking over mountainous terrain where there are many obstacles and challenges to tackle.

In the spirit of adventure (and good weather) more and more people have been substituting running on pavement and flat ground in favour of trail running.

If you love the outdoors and the feeling of fresh air breezing past you, then you should pick it up too.

But before you do that, here are a few tips on how you can prepare and train yourself for a trail run, as well as some advice on some gear that may aid your pursuit.

USE YOUR ARMS

As you run uphill, you’ll gain more momentum and speed by using your arms as you pump them vertically from your hips to your shoulders. Also, learn to keep your elbows slightly wider and further away from your body as you descend.

Getting the movement of your arms correct is what will keep you balanced while on a trail run.

THE GEAR YOU NEED: The North Face Reaxion Amp Crew T-Shirt

DEVELOP STRENGTH

It’s imperative that you include exercises in your workout regime that help to build strength, agility and balance in order for you to tackle obstacles such as uneven terrain, sand, roots, and more whilst on a trail run.

Examples of exercises to add to your training include: ‘Single Leg Balance’ in which you stand on one foot for extended periods of time whilst keeping your torso straight and tall, and your hips under your shoulders.

‘Single Leg Lunges’ are also good – they involve taking an exaggerated step forward onto a balance pad with your feet hip-width apart. This helps you to develop your leg and core strength – ensuring you breeze through your trails without stumbling.

THE GEAR YOU NEED: The North Face Pulse Capri Leggings.

PERFORM DEPTH JUMPS

In order to get your body trail run ready, you’ll have to add Box Jumps to your strength routine.

Your aim in this should be to jump onto the box in an explosively quick movement. Once mastered, move on to Depth Jumps, which have you standing on a box with your knees slightly bent. You then step off the box to land on the ground with both feet. Soft landing is the key as you bend your knees slightly once you hit the floor.

If you don’t have access to a box, then you can also use jumping ropes or perform single leg hops on the ground. This plyometric variation helps to prepare your body to absorb force as you barrel downhill with control.

THE GEAR YOU NEED: The North Face Litewave Ampere Training Shoe.

IMPROVE ANKLE STABILITY

It’s all too easy to go over on your ankle, and trail runs are serious culprits in the sprained ankle department – thanks to uneven surfaces, tree roots, sticks, rocks, and more.

To lessen the risk of twisting your ankle and jeopardising your trail run plans, prepare your body in the gym or at home with ankle strengthening exercises. BOSU balls and uneven surfaces are perfect tools to add to your ankle stability and balance improvement programme.

Furthermore, if you switch to barefoot exercises, it gives your natural stabilisers a chance to work and bolster your ankle protection system.

Perform squats, push-ups, lunges, single-leg squats, rear-foot elevated lunges and plyometric sans shoes and see improvement in the balance and stability of your ankles.

THE GEAR YOU NEED: The North Face Litewave TR Trail Running Shoe.

GRADUAL TRANSITION

Make sure you ease yourself gradually into the trail run terrain, as your training permits, to get yourself accustomed to running on uneven surfaces.

Start slowly by adding a few strides on the grass or off road after completing your regular road run. These will help to acclimate your body to new terrain as you also get to focus on your form and build speed, slowly and steadily.

Once confident about your strides, swap out your regular runs for short and quick trail runs to get your body ready for the real, long and exhausting trail run.

Trail running is an exercise for your body that is not only functionally better for you but it’s also great to be running outdoors in your natural environment.

So what are you waiting for? Gear up, join the crowd and step up to the challenge!

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