Dubbed as the world’s brightest 5K, Daman’s ActiveLife Electric Run, powered by XDubai, is set to thrill thousands of runners across the UAE when it hits Dubai on November 6.
Event organisers have created an experience to bombard the senses through a fusion of light and sound. Electric Runners can expect a unique course unlike any seen in the 30 cities across Asia, Europe and the United States which have already played host to Electric Run.
– Lifestyle: Change your brain with meditation
A cacophony of music from some of the best local DJs will create the soundtrack to the unique night run that takes in seven differently themed course lands.
Once the event kicks off runners make their way into the first land – Candy Lane – a magical sweet shop of a course.
Electric Runners will be greeted by giant inflatable candies and ice cream cones, while the scent of cotton candy and vanilla wafts through the air.
— Activelife by Daman (@ActivelifeDaman) October 8, 2015
Next up is Electro Rainforest where umbrellas hover overhead, lit with glowing hues to help participants weather the storm, with the sounds of the jungle to keep them bouncing through.
Leading the runners through the next courseland is Rainbow Road where technicolour arches of light dance to the beat above participants’ heads as they shake their way through the route.
Runners then head Under the Sea, where the view becomes other worldly. Jellyfish, sea anemones and UV bubbles float through the air, making it a perfect stop for a selfie.
The human body is amazing: whatever we do alters it. If we lift weights our muscles get stronger, if we do some aerobic exercise our cardiovascular system improves, if we eat nutritional food our bodies function better.
All of these actions ensure good health and most of us are aware of the benefits. Well, the same goes for the brain and the effects have been measured by neuroscientists.
It’s what ancient yogis always knew, hence the practice of meditation all those thousands of years ago. Daily mindful meditation may well keep dementia at bay.
Richie Davidson and his colleagues at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison believe that you can train your brain to change. The benefits of positive thinking are well known, proven time and again in situations such as recovery from illness and success in life goals. So in what ways does meditation change the brain?
Increased Grey Matter
Increase was measured in various parts of the brain. Benefits include improved cognitive flexibility referring to the brain’s ability to switch from thinking about one concept to another.
Increased grey matter in the prefrontal cortex improves executive functioning such as planning, problem-solving and emotion regulation.
An increase in grey matter in the hippocampus area of the brain will improve learning ability and memory.
This area of the brain is particularly sensitive to stress and disorders such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder, issues that are increasingly treated using meditation.
Regularly practicing meditation can positively change your brain just as exercise can change your body
— Josie McKenlay (@JosieMcKenlay) October 13, 2015
Decreased Amygdala Size
Decreases in brain cell volume in this part of the brain have been measured following regular meditation practice. This area of the brain is the “fight or flight” centre, the place where we keep our anxious and fearful emotions.
Diminished or Enhanced Connections
Various parts of the brain work together, sometimes in a negative way. Mindfulness practice can weaken the negative connections and start to build new, positive pathways between areas associated with higher brain functions (attention, concentration, etc).
For example, a connection between the pre-frontal cortex and the amygdala causes reactive behaviour. Meditation shrinks the amygdala and weakens this pathway, paving the way for better connections to be strengthened.
Stilling of the Default Mode Network (DMN)
Probably one of the most widely known benefits of mindful meditation is the stilling of the monkey mind. You know the way our busy minds jump around from subject to subject?
The DMN is active when our minds are directionless which is not always adaptive with regards to overall happiness. Being able to focus and keep our minds still and away from negative thoughts will improve overall mood and our ability to concentrate on the positive.
Josie is a health, fitness & lifestyle adviser & a Pilates & yoga instructor with 30+ years experience.
If you think circuit training and CrossFit is tough, try Bodytree Body, the dancer’s equivalent of a boot camp which marries high-energy, fat-blasting cardio and choreography.
There are no bulky exercise units, weight plates, bars, rowing machines, or massive tractor tyres to flip in this studio; just mirrors, ballet bars, mats, impossibly small weights in pretty colours, and a small selection of non-threatening looking “toys” to further assist in what is already a brutal workout on its own.
– #360fit: Do you need a personal trainer?
The walls aren’t painted with graffiti, the windows aren’t blacked out. In fact, Saadiyat Beach Club’s studio boasts one of the most heavenly views in Abu Dhabi of palm-tree lined pools, sun, sand and sea.
Gangsta rap is not needed to boost morale here; these guys blast happy dance remixes of popular radio songs which somehow,
accompanied with the complex choreography, just make you want to whimper and cry instead of shake a leg. And actually, your legs will shake on their own eventually, involuntarily.
Bodytree Body instructor Anya Tarasiuk says: “Bodytree Body was devised when two of our head trainers thought to come up with a high-intensity training class to offer clients, but one with a dance element still in it (as dance is one of the core practices Bodytree is known for).
“Dancing is just plain fun. To have that element in a class that’s also designed to get your heart rate up, work you hard and rapidly burn fat is the ideal, right?”
After a thorough warm-up, Anya takes us straight into a dance cardio segment that takes a little co-ordination and getting used to. You will start off looking very out of place, but 30 minutes into the class and you’ll know the routine so well when it comes around again that it’s like a dress rehearsal for a show you’re in that evening.
“There’re a few steps that we learn bit by bit each class that gets put together. And it’s not hard, it’s just so that everyone can eventually get it and move together quickly to get their heart rates up without it feeling too much like a serious workout,” explains Anya, her big tip throughout our huffing and puffing being just to smile through it.
Thoroughly warm now, next is a section of exercises where weights are strapped round our wrists to work arms.
“These are really light weights, about .45kg each, but they really make a difference in targeting the little tiny muscles of the arms,” says Anya. “You’ll be surprised how much it burns.”
And yet, she ups the ante and makes us grab hold of light weights as well for small but sneakily painful moves that encourage a full range of motion.
Basically, it’s not just ‘dumbbells up, dumbbells down’ here; it’s ‘up, down, then take them behind you as you swivel your arms clockwise, then counterclockwise, punch and pulse’; and your muscles are just not used to that much variety if you’re a run-of-the-mill fitness class goer.
Each body part, from chest to core, legs and glutes, receives this treatment in exhaustive repetitions at some point during the class, ensuring that both the surface as well as the underlying muscles, all corners of the body, are engaged and affected in full.
— Rosewood Abu Dhabi (@RWAbuDhabi) October 12, 2015
“The creators of Bodytree Body, Nadia Sehweil and Anissa Lickrish, are actually ballet-trained and that’s evident in a great deal of the moves,” explains Anya, who likens it to higher-energy ballet barre classes.
One way to double the amount of calories you burn is through interval training, which consists of alternating periods of high-and low-intensity activity, and Anya loves it. This stop-start movement is said to strengthen the heart muscles and improve a person’s aerobic capacity, permitting them to exercise for longer and/or at more intense levels.
We do eight timed intervals in the middle of Bodytree Body. They consist of 30 seconds of hard work per exercise (body weight exercises like squat twists, lunge jumps, plank jumping jacks, and the infamous burpees), each followed by 30 seconds rest.
And when you feel like you’ve sweated enough, you haven’t as it’s either down on the mats or back in front of the mirror to “play” with “toys” like resistance bands and ankle weights in painful yet highly effective attempts to tighten and tone.
“Indeed, Bodytree Body works on toning a whole lot. Seriously, ladies wanting to curve and tighten up in the lower region should check it out as we really get to work on the three major gluteal muscles,” says Anya.
“More than just toning, it’s a programme designed for quick fat and calorie burning (during and even after the class), and just whole-body strength.
— LUXOS MAGAZINE (@luxosmagazine) October 13, 2015
“I believe that people should really be doing lots of different types of workouts all the time to mix things up and surprise the body and Bodytree Body offers a whole range of stuff in the one session. Even better, the hour goes by so fast.
She adds: “It’s a challenging class. If anyone is currently doing Barre classes already, they’ll love this because it takes it up to another level.
“That said, I believe it’s suited to everyone (unless you’re injured because there’s a lot of impact work and jumping around).
“And it’s not just for women, men come and get on well in my classes too.”
Various styles and levels of Bodytree Body classes currently run several times a week at the main Bodytree Studio in Khalidiyah, and at Saadiyat Beach Club on Mondays at 9am. Mixed as well as ladies-only sessions are available, and prices vary per venue.
What: Bodytree Body classes
Where: Bodytree Studio, Khalidiyah and Saadiyat Beach Club