RA­MADAN SPE­CIAL

Each week this Ra­madan, Wael presents a set of ex­er­cises, which can be re­peated for a to­tal work­out

Friday - - Contents - Wael Al Sayegh is a cer­ti­fied Tac­fit and Clubbell Ath­let­ics in­struc­tor and CEO and owner of Fam­ily Mar­tial Arts Lead­er­ship Acad­emy in Dubai.

In his con­clud­ing col­umn, health and fit­ness per­son­al­ity Wael Al Sayegh re­veals how we should all seek out more stress – yes, re­ally.

O‘Know your en­emy, know his sword.’ – Swords­man Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) of the big­gest in­flu­ences on my life has been film­maker and writer Ge­off Thomp­son’s mo­ti­va­tional books. Ge­off’s words res­onate with me be­cause of their sim­plic­ity, trans­parency and power. But the big­gest fac­tor that pulls me in is his au­then­tic­ity. He doesn’t just ex­pound mo­ti­va­tional ideas and the­o­ries, he lives and breathes them. He is the proof of his ad­vice.

Ge­off el­e­vated him­self from fac­tory floor sweeper to world-class mar­tial arts in­struc­tor and au­thor whose work has been trans­lated into mul­ti­ple lan­guages. Ge­off has taught me that fear is not my en­emy, but my friend. When I came across the books, I was work­ing for a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion. I was well paid but un­sat­is­fied. Ev­ery day was a strug­gle to get out of bed. All I wanted to do was train in the mar­tial arts and read. But I was too afraid to ad­mit that to my­self and too scared to men­tion it to my fam­ily. I was pet­ri­fied of how so­ci­ety around me would re­act.

When it comes to liv­ing a healthy life­style, fear plays a big part in one’s fail­ure or suc­cess. I know many peo­ple who choose to stay un­healthy be­cause they are too afraid to make the changes in their lives that will help them. They fear the chal­lenges they might face, the sac­ri­fices they must make, the places they must go to – or stop go­ing to. They fear los­ing their friends, and the com­fort­able se­cu­rity they en­joy. In short, they fear change, and in do­ing so they de­feat them­selves be­fore they even start, with­out be­ing aware of why or how.

Read­ing Ge­off’s books (The Ele­phant and the Twig and Fear, The Friend of Ex­cep­tional Peo­ple), and later work­ing with and study­ing mar­tial arts un­der him, helped me to un­der­stand that my fear was not there to stop me from be­com­ing bet­ter, it was there to fuel the journey. It was my ally, not my en­emy.

The big­gest killer of mankind to­day is not wars, guns and bul­lets; It’s stress. Just as fear is mis­un­der­stood, so too is stress. We are con­di­tioned to be­lieve that stress is bad and re­lax­ation is good. But when we put this un­der the mi­cro­scope we dis­cover that stress, in its proper def­i­ni­tion, is vi­tal to our health and growth.

All growth, be it phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal or emo­tional, is trig­gered and in­duced by stress. Your best per­for­mances in life, at school, univer­sity, in your job, at the gym or on the mat come be­cause stress sits next to you, cheer­ing you on. As long as stress is han­dled grad­u­ally enough for the mind and body to adapt pro­gres­sively, then the only way you can re­spond is by grow­ing stronger. This is known as an­abolism.

If stress hap­pens too quickly, too strongly or for too long, you ex­pe­ri­ence strain and be­gin to break down. The flip side is that if it’s ab­sent from your life al­to­gether, you at­ro­phy and be­gin to fall apart. This is called catabolism. In other words, too lit­tle stress is the same as too much. They both af­fect the body neg­a­tively.

As a cer­ti­fied Tac­fit Field in­struc­tor (in the Tac­ti­cal Fit­ness Sys­tem cre­ated by the mar­tial arts and fit­ness ex­pert Scott Son­non) I have learned there are four types of stress: hy­postress (in­suf­fi­cient, low stress); eu­stress (suf­fi­cient and adapt­able stress); hy­per­stress (re­cov­er­able high stress) and dis­tress (ex­ces­sive un­adapt­able stress.)

We need suf­fi­cient stress to sur­vive. With­out it we can­not grow. The greater the ‘right’ amount in our lives (eu­stress) the more we will grow into whole peo­ple. Most peo­ple sadly yo-yo be­tween in­suf­fi­cient and ex­ces­sive stress in a never-end­ing cy­cle of poor re­sults and re­cur­ring in­jury.

The util­i­sa­tion of fear and stress on our journey to re­turn to our health and fit­ness flow seems counter-in­tu­itive. To put this into a so­cial per­spec­tive, I know many peo­ple in Dubai who brag about how re­laxed their lives are. They spend all day in cof­fee shops and all night in shisha par­lours. They

never ex­pe­ri­ence any growth be­cause they don’t have the req­ui­site amount of stress in their lives. Con­versely, I also know of many in the city who work way too hard and too long. They may be fi­nan­cially re­warded, but the price they are pay­ing in the con­tin­u­ing de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of their health is very high.

An­other un­likely ally of ours is com­plex­ity. Again, we are taught that com­pli­ca­tion is bad and sim­plic­ity is good. Say­ings like ‘keep it sim­ple, stupid’ en­sure that we don’t ven­ture too far off the beaten track. The prob­lem is that many of us get stuck, as Scott says, ‘in sim­plis­tic stu­pid­ity’. Our ner­vous sys­tem does not get the chance to adapt and there­fore can­not grow or de­velop. You can­not learn to dive in the sea by stay­ing in the pool.

Many re­cent stud­ies in­di­cate that the age­ing process is slowed down or even re­versed by the de­gree of com­plex­ity we face in our lives. My prin­ci­pal mar­tial arts in­struc­tor, Sifu Mike Gre­gory, is over 55, en­joys ex­cel­lent health and is able to out­per­form many peo­ple in their early 20s. His own mar­tial arts in­struc­tor is the leg­endary Guro Dan Inosanto, one of the very few peo­ple given per­mis­sion by the cel­e­brated Bruce Lee to teach his sys­tem. Guro Inosanto is over 80 years old and he still trav­els the world giv­ing sem­i­nars. They are able to do this be­cause their minds and bod­ies are ac­tively deal­ing with com­plex phys­i­cal move­ments that are both sym­met­ric and asym­met­ric, and re­quire the ac­tive en­gage­ment of both the right and left sides of the brain.

When most peo­ple train in the gym they are largely do­ing sim­ple move­ments, an up and down or a push and pull. This ‘sim­ply’ lim­its the per­son’s de­vel­op­ment be­yond a cer­tain point. By adding com­plex­ity to the move­ments in our ex­er­cise pro­grammes we make it far more ben­e­fi­cial to our health. My ex­pe­ri­ence tells me the rea­son why most peo­ple don’t do this is be­cause they un­aware of the con­cept and ben­e­fits of com­plex­ity, or they don’t want to look like be­gin­ners.

For your body to ad­just to a new level of com­plex­ity it needs to go through that fum­bling awk­ward phase where you feel like a fish out of wa­ter. If we can con­trol our egos and not give up, our ner­vous sys­tems will even­tu­ally adapt to the new level and we will gain the mas­sive men­tal, phys­i­cal and emo­tional ben­e­fits at­tached to it.

The same can be said of some peo­ple’s lives. Many live too sim­ply and deny them­selves the plea­sure of adapt­ing to higher fre­quen­cies of en­ergy. I have seen many tal­ented young peo­ple in var­i­ous fields im­pris­oned in jobs that de­mand very lit­tle of them men­tally. This sad­dens me, like the sight of a boat that has never seen the wa­ter.

Let’s sum­marise the main points from this five-part Ra­madan se­ries.

Make sure you are al­ways do­ing your best to eat clean food, which can be as sim­ple as mak­ing the best of what you have at the time.

Add mo­bil­ity work to your rou­tine, mov­ing all your ma­jor joints in all their ranges so that they re­ceive the lu­bri­ca­tion needed to free you from the slav­ery that is im­mo­bil­ity.

Ed­u­cate your body to move in all its in­her­ited de­grees of free­dom. Change it from a land-con­fined ve­hi­cle to an air­borne jet.

Al­ways make sure you are con­nected to the di­vine in you. Your breath is an in­di­ca­tor of where you are in your train­ing and life, and it will help you get to where you want to be.

Fi­nally, un­der­stand that fear, com­plex­ity and stress are not en­e­mies but al­lies on the journey to­wards health and fit­ness flow.

Vir­ginia Woolf once said ‘I am rooted, but I flow’. It is my in­ten­tion that over the five ar­ti­cles you have be­came rooted in the idea that there is so much more to you than what you are now. The best of you is yet to ap­pear and the world is wait­ing, I am wait­ing for you. All you need to do is be brave enough to start or restart the journey. Once you’re on that path then your whole life will fol­low suit.

I wish you a healthy Eid Mubarak filled with love, com­pas­sion and flow. Un­til soon, Wael.

Many live too SIM­PLY and deny them­selves the plea­sure of adapt­ing to HIGHER fre­quen­cies of EN­ERGY. This sad­dens me, like the sight of a boat that has NEVER seen wa­ter

The right stress is good for health

SPINAL ROCK BA­SIC

STEP 1 Be­gin in a seated po­si­tion with back straight and feet flat. Keep hands on knees or shins. Ex­pand your chest, drop your shoul­ders down.

STEP 2 Tuck the tail bone as you roll back to­wards the ground. Just like a rock­ing chair, your back roll should be smooth. Once your lower back is flat, roll back­wards on to mid-back, pulling knees to chest.

STEP 3 Ex­tend hips up and for­wards as you curl the back of your knees around an imag­i­nary mon­key bar en­gag­ing your core. Roll back to lower back be­fore re­turn­ing to seated po­si­tion.

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