Join in Urban Yoga Dubai's birthday celebrations

Sport360 staff 14:17 17/11/2016
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Join in the birthday celebrations at Urban Yoga Dubai!

The New York-style yoga studio, situated at 3701 Aspect Tower, Executive Towers in Business Bay, is celebrating its third birthday this December.

And to mark another year in the UAE, Urban Yogis will receive a complimentary birthday pass with each class purchased during the festive month.

For every single class purchased, Urban Yoga, one of Dubai’s most-loved yoga studios, will give out the pass that can be used to attend another yoga session.

The awesome offer is Urban Yoga’s way of saying thank you for three years of support from the Dubai community and its double the reason to get on the mat!

Complimentary pass details:

For class timings and location visit: www.urbanyoga.ae
The birthday offer is valid from December 1 – 31, 2016.
The birthday offer applies to the purchase of single classes only packages are not included.
Birthday passes expire December 31, 2016 and are not transferable or redeemable for cash.

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#360fit: Tom Otton on how gym work was key to success

Kara Martin 06:31 17/11/2016
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No Mera mortal: Tom Otton (second from right) during his gruelling ascent up Mera Peak.

F or some of us, it’s more than enough to buckle down for a month or two to train and conquer your first triathlon or a Tough Mudder event at the weekend. And then there are folks like Tom Otton, daring to think bigger in search of more bite.

The Briton is the MD of the Create Media Group, a successful digital agency he founded in Dubai, but in his spare time, you could say he’s among the UAE’s extreme adventurists.

Last year, along with Marcus Smith of InnerFight Dubai, he successfully completed the notorious Marathon des Sables, a 250km race across the Sahara Desert, also dubbed the ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’.

For his next trick, he chose something a little closer to the clouds – summiting Mera Peak, which, at 6,476m (21,246ft), is Nepal’s highest trekking peak. For obvious reasons, this is a novel challenge not to be taken lightly, and if you are ready to test your fitness and mettle in the new year with something similar, something stickier, then read on to see what it might require of you and your body.

“I enjoy putting myself into difficult situations and seeing how I respond, and in terms of height, this was probably one of the most strenuous things I’ve ever done,” says Otton, who succeeded in his Nepal feat last month while also raising funds for Tanzania orphanage Larchfield Kids.

Otton’s focused training started two to three months prior in Dubai where weather and terrain are already polar opposites to the cold and unforgiving, hilly Himalayas. Testing out all your hefty kit in breaking the ice Tom Otton on how gym work was key to him Jebel Hafeet and Wadi Showka is one thing, but he knew how crucial it was to find any possible means of simulating the situation his body and vitals would face in the low oxygen region, too.

“At such high altitude, your body is constantly operating at a higher frequency, or a faster pace, than at sea level. The oxygen level up at the summit is only about 40-50 per cent, which obviously causes you to breathe a lot more, sets your heart rate much higher, wears you out much quicker,” says the 34-year-old.

“Even your base rate when you’re trying to sleep up there is way up – you’re burning huge amounts of calories as your body tries to suck in whatever energy it can find. So if you can’t get the food down, then this scenario just sort of starts to cannibalise the rest of your body.”

Tackling that issue in the desert obviously has its challenges, but it is doable. Otton was lucky to have TechnoGym on board for training support, and can’t credit their cutting-edge non-motorised treadmill, the Skillmill, enough for its effectiveness in boosting his strength and endurance.

Primarily designed to help everyday athletes improve their power, speed, stamina and agility, the Skillmill is capable of training all the body’s energy systems in a single solution, from sprinting to power development, for efficient metabolic conditioning. It hones an individual’s ability to carry out complex movements requiring good neuromuscular coordination.

“With the Skillmill, when you really crank the gears up high, so much so you kind of have to lean into it and drive your legs, that just activates your posterior chain really well, which is exactly what you need when hiking up a mountain,” added Otton.

On top of that, he had access to Talise Fitness’ High Altitude Chamber, designed to enhance your aerobic capacity and adapt your body to a low-oxygen atmosphere.

“That was awesome because I’d just have to go in there with the Skillmill and crank it up to about 3,000 metres (by decreasing the level of oxygen in the room),” he said.

Combining these two technologies three days a week, alongside functional strength work and cardio outside of the chamber (with weights and kettlebells, a few long runs, as well as sprint work), provided just enough for him to manage on the mountain (and bear in mind Otton was at a fairly high fitness level to begin with). But he hadn’t fully realised that he was training more for a sprint than a marathon until he got to Base Camp.

“You’d think that hiking at high altitude would be all about longer-term cardio, about being able to endure longer, monotonous distances and that, but it’s actually the opposite, I learned,” he added.

“Up on the mountain, because you’re struggling so much to get oxygen in, your body reacts a lot more like it’s doing sprint sessions – even if all you’ve done is 10 paces while hefting your pack in your crampons (snow/ice shoe grips).

“It’s true you can’t really fully acclimatise for Mera Peak by doing a few hours in the Chamber a week, but what it does is replicate the experience of working hard at high altitudes so that way I was able to work out how hard I could push myself and more.

Maximum endurance skills: Tom Otton on the TechnoGym Skillmill.

Maximum endurance skills: Tom Otton on the TechnoGym Skillmill.

“I was then able to understand my body more at altitude because I had worked out hard at altitude on the ground. But I must say, in hindsight, I’d probably go back and do less long runs and focus more on interval and heart rate training if I did it again.” Nutrition, you would think, is big ground to consider too, but ultimately, all the bulking up Otton did on the ground was simply in anticipation of the fact that he knew he would be burning heaps of calories and losing weight on Mera.

Trekkers usually just about sustain themselves on dhal curry served at one of the small stone-hut teahouses on your way up to the top – if and when they can muster any energy to do so.

“The thing is, when you get to higher altitudes it really affects the body – you get splitting headaches, nausea… It makes it hard to stomach anything, to do much of anything really in -18C weather,” Otton went on.

“The last few days, I barely ate more than a meal a day, my body found it too hard. I did drink about 4-5 litres of water a day, though – that’s probably one of the best ways to, if you can’t eat, sort of work your way around the effects of altitude sickness. If you can’t do anything else, at least just keep drinking.”

If after reading this, you think your body is up for it, then be sure to add to that the right mental attitude which can ultimately help a great deal in making or breaking you on the mountain.

Otton’s final tip: “The more of these situations you put yourself through, the better you get at mastering the mental side of things, which, I feel, is more important than the fitness aspect.

“Of course as much training as possible is important but at the end of the day, for a trip like this you’ve just got to get stuck in and do it. You just need to understand that you’re going to be uncomfortable for a long period of time, and make peace with that.”

You can help Tom Otton further raise much-needed funds for Larchfield Kids by donating via their website, which can be visited at www.larchfieldkids.org.

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Lifestyler — The Second Brain: Your Gut

Josie McKenlay 06:09 17/11/2016
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Learn to listen to your gut.

It was long believed the digestive system was a part of the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling bodily functions not consciously directed, such as the respiratory system; breathing, heartbeat, etc.

Modern research now believes the enteric nervous system (ENS), which governs the function of the gastrointestinal system, is capable of acting autonomously. This has led to the gut being described as the second brain.

There are other ways in which the gut could be thought of as a second brain: that “gut feeling” we get about something and that stomach churning sensation we feel in times of anxiety.

The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from oesophagus to rectum. It communicates back and forth with our brain, sometimes with profound results.

For example, in a study involving mice, one group of weaker mice were housed with a group of dominant mice who bullied them to the point where the weaker group became withdrawn and depressed.

When exposed to a variety of foods, the depressed mice chose the high fat, high carb “comfort” foods. The reverse is also true: serotonin and dopamine, the “feel good” hormones, are produced in the gut, the increase of which cause a cheerful, positive mind set.

Disturbances in gut health have been linked to multiple sclerosis, autistic spectrum disorders and Parkinson’s, thought to be related to inflammation due to an imbalance of gut bacteria.

As we get older, our bodily functions don’t operate quite so well and the changes in our digestive systems have even been linked to Alzheimer’s. So, the gut may control what’s going on in the mind rather than simply the other way around.

Another interesting fact is that the signal most of us get around 20 minutes into a meal that we are full comes from the gut rather than the brain.

You may recognise that feeling of being overly full when you have eaten in a hurry or that feeling of being satisfied following the starter when your body has had time to “digest” how much you have eaten. It is believed in some cases of obesity that the signal is weak and this could help gastric bypass surgery in the future.

The benefits of a healthy digestive system, then, are clear, just as stress management is vital in maintaining both physical and mental harmony. The need for a healthy diet and balanced exercise, together with meditation and a good dose of what makes you happy, cannot be ignored.

Meditation and exercise are definitely part of the modern way to treat depression, in some cases replacing medication and certainly in the long-term, negating the requirement for drugs. Based on the above, a balanced diet which controls weight and balances the gut flora will have positive benefits for our mental health.

Last week I suggested some postures to help maintain the health of the internal organs: add these to an improvement in eating habits and some deep breathing/relaxation and you will soon enjoy an improvement in wellbeing.

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