Preaching importance of a good night's sleep ahead of April's Sleep Expo Middle East in Dubai

Hiba Khan 10/03/2019
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The only time we realise the importance of sleep is after we pay a hefty price of a night with very little, or none, of it.

Sleep is such a natural part of our routine that we often take it for granted, to the point that the majority of us do not take heed of its quality or the amount we are getting on a daily basis.

Current research has shown that people spend nearly a quarter of their lives sleeping and it is an essential, physiological need, just like food and water. It is also vital for recovery of cellular, network and endocrine system levels.

Marija Sostaric, a fitness expert and co-founder of a bespoke health and fitness programme provider called Tamryn, reiterated the importance of sleep in helping us maintain our physical and mental health, and how quality sleep is even more necessary for enhancing our athletic performance.

“Quality sleep is essential to recover from daily routines and training sessions, but also it is basic requirement to prepare your body for upcoming daily demands in the days to come,” she said.

“Scientists recognise sleep as a key element of athletes’ recovery and it is essential in motor skill learning process, so sleep is one of the most crucial parts of an athlete’s life.”

Marija Šoštarić 3

Marija Sostaric is a fitness expert and co-founder of Tamryn.

She added: “Some of the health problems associated with and caused by a lack of sleep are well known and experts have found a correlation between lack of sleep and an increase of obesity and diabetes cases.”

The effects of lack of sleep are further evidenced through a person’s psychological performance and mood states, so if ever you feel like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, always remember that there is more to it than just that.

According to Sostaric, one of the most commonly reported issues among athletes is sleep deprivation, which is often associated with the overtraining syndrome, and lots of studies have proved the negative impact of excessive training on sleeping patterns.

A normal adult requires between five to eight hours of sleep and Sostaric insists that a good night’s sleep is more under our control than we actually think.

“There are a few guidelines one needs to follow in order to ensure a good night’s sleep. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other chemicals that interfere with sleep too close to bed time,” Sostaric added.

“Do not exercise too close to bed time, because it will activate alerting mechanism in your brain and it won’t help you fall asleep.”

Sostaric also says that a cosy environment ensures better sleep and the whole idea is to lower the body’s alertness, so it’s easier to fall asleep.

Due to the rapid increase in sleep-related disorders and considerable amount of interest in the subject, a dedicated expo and conference will be held from April 11-13 at Festival Arena, Dubai.

The Sleep Expo Middle East is poised to bring together all stakeholders of the sleeping technology industry in the GCC region under one roof to raise awareness, and a showcase of latest innovative solutions aiding sleep.

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Get fit with Gymnation's Bollywood-inspired fitness program Bollynation

Hiba Khan 9/03/2019
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If you thought Bollywood dancing just meant fixing the light bulb and patting the dog, then you should have been at GymNation for their new BollyNation class on February 26, which was just a taster for what will be available at the new Bur Dubai branch in April.

BollyNation is just one of the many diverse exercise programmes offered by GymNation – the one stop shop for all your fitness needs in a budget – that will get you moving and grooving to the latest Bollywood tunes.

The session was conducted by Dubai-based dancer and winner of popular Indian dance reality-television show Nach Baliye (Dance Partner) Anup Bhardwaj, who has won many awards over the years for his dancing capabilities.

For the BollyNation taster, he created a choreography with some signature Bollywood dance moves, with all the twists, turns and pelvic thrusts and peppered it with intense cardio movements and various stretches in-between that ensured we were all pushed to the limit and burning up thousands of calories by the end of the session.

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The 30-year-old powerhouse draws his inspiration from Michael Jackson and Indian actor and dancer, Govinda, and insists that the only requirement for his class is endless energy.

“The only prerequisite for my class is lots and lots of energy,” Bhardwaj said. “Bollywood dancing for me is all about letting loose, having fun and releasing all of that pent-up stress. I was a little concerned when I saw how diverse the class was and thought of changing the routine a bit so everyone could follow, but decided against it and was very pleased with how everyone managed to keep going.”

The dance moves were fast and powerful, but Bhardwaj assured us all that after two or three sessions with him, everyone will be able to breeze through the routine with ease.

British expat Fifi Sami, 32, enjoyed the session and was already looking forward to taking part in her next class with Bhardwaj.

“This was amazing. I had a great time. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect so I found the class a little too fast-paced for an absolute beginner such as myself, but I am prepared now and definitely coming back,” Sami said.

Snetha Mathew and Anisha Johanna echoed Sami’s positive views about the class being too fast-paced, but the session left the duo excited and ready to attend BollyNation as soon as the new gym opens next month.

“The class was a little hard to follow, but it was fun and really made me want to dance,” said Mathew.

Johanna added: “It was a strangely addictive class and we were both moving in no time, so I am just waiting for it to be offered as a regular class and I am definitely coming down again for another round.”

*The BollyNation class will be exclusively offered in GymNation Bur Dubai once the facility opens in April. 

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Backyard Ultra proves to be the ultimate test of endurance

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While most people were sunning themselves on beaches around the UAE last weekend, a gruelling race of attrition was taking place at Al Qudra in Dubai.

The Backyard Ultra is a form of ultramarathon where competitors must run 6.7km on the hour every hour, until only one runner is left standing.

When each lap is completed, the remaining time within the hour is typically used to recover and re-hydrate for the next hour’s race.

Irishman Mark Haigney won the race with 25 loops (167.5km) over a mammoth 25 hour period, while second place went to Dubai-based Rob Jones who ran a stunning 24 laps (161km) over 24 hours.

Belfast-born Jones, who has been living in the UAE since 2010, is no stranger to endurance races having won the Wadi Bih Hatta 70km in November and followed it up with a formidable finish at the arduous UTMB Oman 137km in December.

“The race at the weekend was brutal. I knew it was going to be hard. You think you can run 6.7km on the hour every hour. But it’s tough trying to get the food in between with the remaining time you have until you have to run on the hour again,” said Jones.

“It was a serious challenging but really enjoyable to be part of a race of its calibre.”

While Jones’ long-term focus for 2019 will be the UTMB Chamonix – a stunning 171km single-stage race through France, Italy and Switzerland – he is set to compete in the Urban-Ultra Hajar 100km on February 15 as well as the Mount Sana 60km on Mach 22.

Two events that will give him ideal preparation before tackling one of the world’s most extraordinary races in France at the end of August.

“The Alps is one of my favourite places in the world to visit. UTMB Chamonix is the high point of racing in Europe with tough qualification criteria so I’m super excited to train and get ready to show the world what a runner in a country with ‘no hills’ can do,” said the 33-year-old.

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