Let's Get Physical..!

The importance of all year-round fitness on your mental, emotional and physical health. 

As part of my passionate endeavor to educate the public about better ways to embrace a fitter, healthier and balanced lifestyle, I have come up with a series of articles to share with you to take you one step closer to living better. 

In 2014, I got my first job in CrossFit as a part time coach for ladies classes in Altitude, Sharjah. In the first month of coaching, some classes would have one attendee and most of the times classes were cancelled because no ladies would attend. 

Within a few months, the classes started to slowly grow into a beautiful community of students, working ladies and mothers. In my personal experience, commercial gyms and personal trainers didn’t serve me as guidance when it comes to nutrition, recovery and even the importance of sleep. 

I sat down with some of the girls that I could at my gym and wanted them to reflect on how CrossFit has made such an improvement in their day to day lives. I have always said that people lose sight of what CrossFit truly is because of its competitive nature. Fitness is about improving your physical, mental and emotional health. 

Sukaina, a 40-year-old thyroid patient and a mother of 3 trains 4-5 x a week. Sukaina is a part time teacher that started her CrossFit journey in August 2017. “CrossFit means everything to me, it has changed my life completely,” she says with passion, “I am calmer, more aware of the food I eat, I didn’t have confidence before and this has changed my mindset. I have also lost 10 kilos since I have completely quit sugar.”
— Sukaina Thawer

I concluded that the effects of physical training on the mental outweighed it’s physical outcome. The ladies in the gym would always emphasize on their mental and emotional health as well as improvements in their energy levels and quality of sleep. 

Anne, a 34-year-old housewife and mother trains 6 times a week started her CrossFit journey in June 2017. “CrossFit has enabled me to change my lifestyle completely, it’s all about the supportive community. It continuously breaks personal limits that I put for myself.” She says, “I have started to eat better and eat more! I’ve seen a big improvement in my sleep, movement and stress levels. I feel lighter, healthier and even more relaxed than I ever was”
— Anne Wolter

We all lead a stressful work life, social life and barely any time to mindfully change our eating habits and training, many don’t take in consideration how important food and sleep is for the mind and body as much as training is. Quality of sleep improves with exercise since it lowers stress levels across your day, especially if you start your mornings with activity. And with lower stress comes better focus and overall brain function. 

Afra, 23-year-old has a full-time job but has never skipped more a week of training. She comes in Platform 4 times a week and started her journey in early 2016. “CrossFit to me means community, support, challenge and competitiveness. It helps you to quickly learn, challenge yourself and try new things. It has taken me out of my comfort zone, I am more confident, social, outgoing and physically stronger.” Says Afra, “It has changed my moods, improved my sleeping pattern and I spend my day looking forward to the class” 
— Afra Al Muhairi

The psychological benefits of training include gaining and improving their confidence, reduced anxiety, improved well-being, moods and reduced stress. Exercise and physical activity help improve mental health, cognitive skills, focus and improves self-confidence that could possibly be a factor to psychological variables.

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CrossFit is one of the best ways to kick start your fitness journey due to the positive and supportive community. The gym strives on support and encouragement, coaches supporting members and members supporting members as well. I found a purpose in one the lowest moments in my life, when I felt lost, confused, depressed and unhappy with where my life was going. 

When I started my journey within CrossFit, I could think clearly, my thoughts were not clouded with thoughts of depression and anxiety. My mind was clearer, eager for learning, eager to be active, to read, to write and to create. The more inspired I was, the more I wanted to share and educate others about it’s positive benefits. 

And most importantly, cardio training has been proven to improve brain performance and create new brains cells, also known as, neurogenesis. Tough workouts increase levels of a protein that is derived from the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF which improves decision making, thinking and learning. 

Once I trained consistently, I have noticed my focus and learning both improving drastically in comparison to when I was studying in university. So let’s get physical to improve our quality of life! 

More about our ladies…. 

Mariam, 22-year-old student that trains at Platform 5 times a week has become fiercely competitive in the past few months. I have noticed amazing improvements with her gymnastics skills and weightlifting. Maryam began her journey with CrossFit in 2015, but has only been consistent in 2017. “It’s a way to challenge my capabilities, I’m stronger and I have better awareness of how I move and eat,” said Mariam, “This is my first open and I have never felt so strong!” 

Alanoud, 29-year-old mother of 3 trains 5 times a week started CrossFit in September 2017. Since starting her CrossFit journey her aches and pains in her lower back have completely disappeared! “I feel stronger, fitter, healthier and more aware of what I eat! CrossFit is also very addictive! You have so much support from the ladies and the coach” she said. 

Amna, a 23-year-old Masters Student trains 4 times a week that started her CrossFit journey in November 2017. “Even though I have only started a couple of months ago, I’ve noticed my muscles develop quickly! CrossFit has helped me be more aware of my health and movement, it’s encouraged me to carry heavy things and improve my everyday function.” She says energetically, “It’s more supportive than anything else, rather than training alone in a gym, CrossFit has created a sense of a supportive fitness family” 

Hind, a 30-year-old Mother of 2, spends most of her day on a desk, started CrossFit in 2013. “I love it and I wish I had more time to train and enjoy it more!” she said “It develops the self, mind, body and emotional health as well. It has improved my strength, endurance and overall fitness level. I have lost 15 kilos in 6-7 months of continuous training.” Hind developed a great sense of awareness with what CrossFit has taught her over the years. “I trained while pregnant and I also trained post-partum. Since I am more aware of what my body needs, I started back into training within 3 months after giving birth. I was able to carry my toddler and my baby around for hours because of my gained strength.” 

Afra, 23-year-old has a full-time job but has never skipped more a week of training. She comes in Platform 4 times a week and started her journey in early 2016. “CrossFit to me means community, support, challenge and competitiveness. It helps you to quickly learn, challenge yourself and try new things. It has taken me out of my comfort zone, I am more confident, social, outgoing and physically stronger.” Says Afra, “It has changed my moods, improved my sleeping pattern and I spend my day looking forward to the class” 

Hamda, a 20-year-old student has been doing sports from a young age. She started her CrossFit journey in early 2016 with her sister, Afra. “CrossFit is very challenging, it’s the best way to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people and socialize” she says, “It lowered me stress and anxiety by large as well!” 

Shaikha works out 3-4 times a week despite her 9-hour desk job and busy schedule. This 25-year-old started her CrossFit mid 2014 and has been going strong since! “It is always a challenge! CrossFit has taken me out of my comfort zone, it’s physically challenging, destressing and confidence boosting!” she says, “It’s easily measurable, I remember not being able to do 5 wall balls in a row, and now I can go for more than 5’s in a workout like Karen! (150 wall balls for time) I feel better, fitter and more confident in the way I move.” 

Fitting it all in..

In this blog piece, Platform's CrossFit Coach talks about organising your time efficiently while sharing his personal insights and top tips to rollin' throughout the day with ease...

Majority of the people I meet in Dubai are always on a mission to find more time. If you are one of them then this may help you. What if I told you, you’ll never find time? When it comes to time it’s about what you make of it. There may be many ways to make time. 

Here are my top tips:
 

1. Prioritise

Everyone has the same 24hours in a day - this limits how many things we can pay close attention too. You cannot have 10 priorities and if you do then you probably don't understand the concept of priority. I limit myself to three in the following order:

  • Health - Sleep, Eat, Train
  • Family
  • Career - Personal and Professional development -Coaching 

 

minhal with family
I dedicate time to accomplish the most towards these priorities. Its time I’ve made not found as I always had that time, I just made it mine.

2. Organize

 

It is very unlikely that you will have two days the same.  Family commitments, delays at work, unexpected traffic can all play havoc with your schedule.  However, just like your financials, you will have fixed time and variable time and can use this to forecast how you will budget your time.

Fixed time is the non-negotiables or regular commitments. These include my 7 hours sleep, set coaching hours, and commute.  Anything in between this is variable, meaning I am able to make the most out of it.

Variable time is flexible because it varies week to week or month to month (think Christmas, children’s birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, busy times or events at work etc.)  This for me includes family time, just because it’s a priority doesn’t mean it’s a fixed time.  For example: it could be beach in the mornings one month or movie/games night another. 

However, to create the time for it, I mark it in my diary and it then becomes a fixed event. And so, I’ve just made that time to spend on that errand, project or with my family. 

 

minhal travel with family

3. Optimize

As you become more aware of where you are spending your time you can begin to optimize it; align where you are spending your time with your priorities.  Constantly measure and be aware of the actual value the activity brings to your life. Those that don’t add much value, should be simplified or eliminated entirely to focus on those that do. Putting time and energy into anything that does not serve your purpose is the easiest way to waste hours of your day.

"The bottom line isn’t just about doing things faster, but doing the right things more efficiently."

When attempting to optimize your time, ask yourself these simple questions:

  • Am I spending too much time at work?
  • Can I take another route to cut on travel time? Or could I be using my commute more effectively?

Why not listen to a worthy podcast on something that gets your gears spinning, it could be anything.

  • Do I take a lunch break to re-fuel and re-fresh?
  • I have a few hours between when I finish my workday and when I go to bed. Am I making the most out of these hours?
  • What time of day am I most productive?

Maybe you don't have enough energy in the evenings, why not try going to bed an hour earlier and waking up an hour earlier to work on your priorities.

  • What about scheduling your weekends more effectively?

 

 

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Here are some pointers on how to be more efficient:

Image: Google.

  1. Make a list and get out of your head: Rather than letting all the things you have to do swirl about in your head uncontrollably and continuously, make a list. The list frees your brain from overwhelm and puts all the things you need to do in front of you where you can see them, approach them and deal with them. One. By. One. So you can slowly get them all done. Put your list on paper or on your phone or wherever it will be most helpful. And when you’ve got the list in use, you’ll see that many of the things that swirl so furiously and continuously in your head aren’t really that big of a deal and might only take minutes to accomplish. So, letting them take up so much mental space is a waste.

    For me, the beauty of the paper list vs. the electronic list is that you get the satisfaction of crossing things out with a very animated, intentional swipe of your pen. Once they’re crossed off you can see just how much you’ve done, turning your to-do list into a done list.
     
  2. Cross something off. I don’t mean cross it off because it’s done. I mean cross it off as in don’t do it. Surely there’s one thing on your list that doesn’t really NEED to get done. Maybe it’s an event that you really aren’t OBLIGATED to attend. Or maybe it’s an activity that you realize you don’t really need to do. Whatever it is, on almost everyone’s list, there is something that can be deleted. Or at least delayed until another time when you have more time

     
  3. Combine efforts. There are different ways you can approach this combination of efforts. Try to schedule things so that all your activities fall back to back on the same day — making for a busy day, yes, but also leaving other days of the week open for you to feel more spacious. If you’re meeting someone for coffee one morning, move immediately into the next — maybe with a 15-minute window just for yourself.

    If you’re volunteering at school or elsewhere in the community, schedule it so that another errand or task is done immediately afterward. This not only blocks your time nicely, but also gives definitive end times to each activity. You can also block things by time of day, scheduling all your extra activities in a certain time frame each morning or evening leaving the rest of the day free for your own personal or work-related efforts. On the days that are for your projects only, be sure to put it on the calendar so that space and time doesn’t get absorbed by other activities.
     
  4. Schedule less. To this you might say, “easy” but really, if overwhelm is becoming a regular state of mind, perhaps you ought to think about doing less. If it’s making you stressed or anxious, then maybe it really is too much. What activities are putting you closer to your goals or your family or your own thoughts? Consider eliminating things in the short term and the long term. Maybe you’re on too many committees or in too many groups. Whatever it is, they will be there when you’re ready but know that you’re not serving anyone by completely overextending yourself.
     
  5. Eliminate guilt. Guilt really doesn’t serve anyone. If you’re doing something because you feel guilty, you’re probably not bringing your best self to the role. 
     
  6. Delegate. Surely you don’t need to do everything yourself. If you’ve got the funds, hire someone to take on some of your tasks. Think of yourself as a job creator helping your local economy. Don’t have the money for that? Look to friends, coworkers or family members who might pick up some of the slack, either straight up or in exchange for other tasks that you’re doing anyway. Ask your partner to take on one of your tasks. Or ask your kids to chip in a little more with things. Try doing things co-operatively such as child care or errands or meal making or whatever is on your list. No point in all of us doing all of it. Share, trade, barter, bargain. Whatever you can do to make things feel more efficient and fun.
     
  7. Get more sleep. Sure, it seems funny to think of sleeping more as giving you more time, but seriously, when you are well-rested you’re a much more efficient machine. Go to bed earlier. Leave something undone that night. If you’re a parent, you won’t ever get it ALL done anyway, so leave some of it undone in the name of a good night’s rest. SO worth it. And truly, you’ll feel stronger, more capable, more efficient and more joyful too so you can get more done more joyfully.
     
  8. Decide to be Done. On a regular basis, you need to sometimes just call it a day. You can’t possibly do everything that needs doing. In any household there are so many tasks — endless tasks, really. At some point every day you just need to call it a day. Call it a day on the weekends in order to have more time hanging out with your family. Call it a day in the evenings in order to take a little one-on-one with your partner or your kids. Call it a day at bedtime in order to take a few minutes to yourself.

 

So without further ado, get yourself a pen and paper, and determine your top 3 priorities. 

Blog by -Minhal Bhojani

Sleep better to live better!

Getting a good kip at night is one of the magic remedies to improving many aspects of your health and well-being, including mood, health, mind, weight and more.

Insufficient sleep can have many knock on effects throughout the day: Waking up grumpy; less likely to exercise (or feel drained when doing so); craving and eating unhealthy food; poor concentration at work, these being just a few of the short term effects. Over time lack of sleep will lower the immune system, resulting in a higher risk of getting sick on a regular basis. Any weight loss may become challenging and potential weight gain could be experienced.

sleep-photo.jpeg

Making sleep a priority can minimize the above and lead to these wonderful benefits which will improve your day, month, year and life.

  • More alert and energy

  • Feeling less stressed

  • Supports bodies immune system

  • Promotes body and muscle repair

  • Supports weight management

  • Balances hormones and improves happiness

There are many factors in our lives which can create barriers when trying to fit the adequate amount of sleeping hours into our day. Aim to get between 7-9 hours sleep every night. If this seems impossible, try small changes that could lead you to creating this goal in the distant future. Go to bed half an hour earlier than usual for 2 weeks and go from there, small improvements are better than nothing.

A few suggestion which may help dropping off at night time:

Create the right environment - Ensure your room is somewhere you like being, a tidy space so you don’t feel cluttered, blackout curtains, comfortable temperature so you are not too hot or cold, try to eliminate disturbing noises (ear plugs if needed) and maybe look at removing that television that keeps you up all hours of the night.

Camomile tea - Sleep aid being just one of the benefits, this ‘sleep tea’ has a natural calming effect on the body promoting a more restful sleep.

Magnesium - Consumed through food or natural supplement capsules 20 minutes before bed, this mineral will naturally calm the body, promoting repair and recovery, helping to achieve a deeper sleep.

Grab a book - In this hi-tec society we are forever our gadgets with the bright lights and consent information cluttering our minds. Maybe try going to bed an hour earlier and read that book you’ve been promising yourself, you could be surprised how quickly you’ll start to drift off.

Write it down - Sometimes we can go to bed with our heads buzzing, I know I can. Have a pen and paper next to your bed to write your ideas, to do’s and thoughts down so you are able to declutter your mind, but not forget those important tasks for tomorrow.

Try some of these simple steps and make the changes so you can reap the benefits from making sleep a priority in your daily lifestyle. Live better.

Blog by - Hayley Morgan

"No Pain So Much Gain" – RAD Mobility’s Expert Tips to Pain-Free Training

We humans suck at moving. We didn’t originally, but we do now. Our habitual lack of movement has actually changed our physical form. Seen this?

 Credit: James Rayneau - WordPress.com

Credit: James Rayneau - WordPress.com

Now we’ve never been the most agile species, but our ancestors definitely moved better, faster and could endure much more physical exertion than we do.

Amongst the 21st century urbanites, if there’s anyone that needs a master class in mobility, it’s us Dubai-folk and there’s no denying it. Do you park as close as possible to the mall entrance? Thought so. It’s not our fault though – we’re all thinking ‘efficiency’, the key to success in a fast-paced city.

What’s happened in the process is that we’ve ended up compromising on our natural ability to move. At Platform, we see people walk through the door everyday, join the sweat-fest, and leave without really achieving their full physical potential.

It’s not for lack of trying – it’s because there’s all this undue tension packed up in their muscles tying them down, crying out for release. The result is pain, mobility restrictions, performance limitations and just an overall drop in awesome.

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So last weekend, we brought in the big guns.

The pros from RAD Mobility, a mobility tools and education company that’s literally ‘moving’ the fitness industry worldwide, came down and delivered an action-packed 2-day RAD Mobility workshop.

RAD Mobility is a certification course that’s open to all. You learn about self myofascial release, tools and techniques to enhance mobility, get some serious hands-on learning for pain assessment and treatment, and in turn, learn about performance enhancement to an entirely new level.  

Delivered by Nick Mueller and Roy Choquette, the workshop was attended by conditioning coaches, physiotherapists, yoga instructors and a bunch of Crossfit pros.

 Nick Mueller

Nick Mueller

We shot a few questions at the RAD boys after, and put together an exclusive, inside scoop on how focusing on your mobility can help you become the best version of yourself whether you teach, practice, compete or treat.

  • What’s your top mobility tip for the everyday exerciser to train pain-free?

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Can’t say it enough. Find a mobility routine that addresses your problem areas and make it a part of your routine. Really – Every. Single. Day.

Restoring mobility is just that – it’s restoring your body’s ability to move. Certain disciplines of physical activity have particular overuse injuries. For instance, golfers may find rotator cuff and hip overuse injuries are common and problematic, crossfitters often suffer from Achilles Tendonitis and lower back problems.

So tuning into your body, figuring out your pain points, and targeting them with effective mobility tools and techniques every day, consistently, is it – that’s our top tip!

 

  • When do you ‘persevere’ through the pain, and when should you stop?

With self myofascial release, you definitely want to invoke a mechanical response to bring about improvement and change, but if you (or your clients or patients) are wincing and crying and feel like ‘never doing this again’, then you’re obviously missing the mark. The key lies in understanding the difference between pain and discomfort.

Persevering through the discomfort with the right mobility techniques will open up a window of opportunity right after myofascial release that will allow you to use that newfound mobility and apply it to enhance performance – that’s where the magic lies.

Another important aspect RAD Mobility focuses on is pain assessment. There’s no good in just chasing pain. To really gain control over your body and your performance, it’s important to understand pain and where its coming from, right down to its root.  

In general, an athlete knows when they are injured versus when they hurt. In the heat of competition, athletes often persevere past their physical limit. It just happens.

Understanding mobility can play a big role in restoring function after damage or injury, and potentially pushing the threshold for injury, too.
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  • What are the absolute must-practice mobility techniques that you recommend?

Basically, to move optimally no matter what your discipline is, you need adequate full body flexion, multi-segmental extension and multi-segmental rotation – contract, stretch and rotate, put simply.

In our experience, the most common problem areas people struggle with are the thorax, hips and ankles. So if you have 10 minutes a day for your mobility drill, focus on these areas and you’re golden.

Also, try and think about the plane of movement that you ‘live’ in as an athlete. Crossfitters usually move front and back, and ‘live’ in the sagittal plane. Focusing mobility and strength techniques to stabilise in the frontal and transverse planes then, is going to help crossfitters center and strengthen in their competing planes.

Shaikha Al Qassemi, CrossFit coach, competitor since 2013, and an ever-inspiration for women in fitness, said, “I attended the RAD Mobility Certification for two days. I didn’t expect it to be so detailed and precise. I enjoyed every aspect of the material, especially the hands-on practical sections. I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned to my own practice, with my fellow coaches and my clients.”

Next Up: A round-up on the pH Nutrition Seminar that will absolutely transform (or awaken) your inner athlete – Registrations Open!

At Platform, we’re building an amazing community of people, values and true love for CrossFit. No boundaries, no judgment and definitely no limits! Hit us up and come by for your next workout or a cuppa – you’ll leave inspired, no matter what.  

Follow @PlatformFitnessGym on Facebook and Instagram and watch the Platform blog for pro-tips, inspo and much more. 

Written By: Aditi Jajal

The Utmost Tribute

Four years ago today a Crossfit affiliate box opened in Al Quoz, Dubai. Crossfit Utmost, with it's hashtag #utmostnation, grew a community more like family. The first box in the UAE to offer ladies only classes and with that, grew a ladies fitness movement as well. 

We are honoured that our first blog post is a tribute to the #utmostnation founders, members and followers, to join in on a workout that Platform and head coach at Dunes Crossfit, Speedy, collaborated on. We wish the founders of Crossfit Utmost the best in their future endeavours wherever life takes them, they will always be in spirit with all of us. 

We encourage all Crossfit affiliates to take part this Saturday 3.06.2017 in this workout.

Utmost Tribute Partner WOD:

{one works:one rests}

30 rounds for time
5 power clean 115/75
4 strict hspu

Scaled as needed. 

Hello!

We're just here to give you our warm wishes and welcome you to the Platform community. We hope your experience with us is fruitful and inspiring - just the way we want it! If you have any inquiries please feel free to contact any of the helpful staff or drop us a message.

 

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