SWEDISH STRENGTH

Men's Health (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Cross­Fit ath­lete and per­sonal trainer Daniel de Sanctis shares about what it takes to go from reg­u­lar gym junkie to an elite-level com­peti­tor.

Be­hind Daniel de Sanctis’ pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion in help­ing his clients get in shape, is his de­sire to be as strong and fit as he can pos­si­bly be. From early as­pi­ra­tions of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional ice hockey player, to com­pet­ing at a na­tional level in Cross­Fit, the TripleFit trainer shares how he achieved his su­per fit body.

When you think of Swe­den, you may think of IKEA, H&M, and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic. But it’s not just af­ford­able fur­ni­ture (and meat­balls), cheap clothes, and cocky foot­ballers that rep­re­sent the Scan­di­na­vian na­tion. Cen­turies ago, there were the fear­some Vikings of lore – tall, strong, and bearded. And although Daniel de Sanctis may be miss­ing the fa­cial hair, he cer­tainly fits the bill when it comes to be­ing tall and strong.

No one will blame you if you feel a lit­tle in­tim­i­dated by Daniel when you first see him. Stand­ing at 1.90m tall and weigh­ing around 95kg, the Swedish-born trainer from TripleFit is every bit as pow­er­ful as he looks, yet as pa­tient and nur­tur­ing as you can ex­pect as a trainer. Just don’t ex­pect any easy work­outs.

But the 38-year-old wasn’t al­ways at the peak of phys­i­cal fit­ness. In his teenage years, Daniel har­boured am­bi­tions of go­ing pro in an­other sport al­to­gether. “I wanted to be a pro­fes­sional ice hockey player, so I took it se­ri­ously be­tween the age of 15 and 16.”

PATH TO ELITE FIT­NESS

As many reg­u­lar guys would at­test to, teenage dreams don’t al­ways work out, and the idea of ice hockey came and went. It wasn’t un­til af­ter Daniel com­pleted mil­i­tary train­ing when he was 21 that he started to get more se­ri­ous about get­ting in shape, and 2011 was the turn­ing point in Daniel’s fit­ness jour­ney. “A col­league of mine had re­cently started Cross­Fit and got strong re­ally fast so I thought I’d give it a try. The first time I did it, I to­tally got my a** kicked. Ap­par­ently I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!” Daniel ad­mits.

Cross­Fit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glass­man and Lau­ren Je­nai, and since then, it has ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity all over the world. Fa­mous for its harsh and pun­ish­ing work­outs of the day (WODs), the sport in­cor­po­rates moves from var­i­ous ex­er­cise dis­ci­plines such as Olympic weightlift­ing, cal­is­then­ics, and high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing.

As tough as the train­ing was, Daniel didn’t let that dis­cour­age him. Once he got se­ri­ous, it didn’t take him long to start com­pet­ing in ma­jor Cross­Fit events like Torso Twisted in Swe­den and the Asia Cham­pi­onships af­ter four to five years of train­ing.

“Torso Twisted is con­sid­ered to be one of the tough­est and heav­i­est com­pe­ti­tions in Swe­den with nine events in three days,” Daniel re­calls. “To be able to han­dle that gave me a big boost that I was do­ing the right thing in my train­ing!” The Asia Cham­pi­onships was also his first in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, and it gave him a taste of the level of com­pe­ti­tion the re­gion had to of­fer.

“I learned that the qual­ity of ath­letes here in Asia is very good as well. I fin­ished in 2nd

place at the Sec­tion­als (semi­fi­nals) and was happy with it,” Daniel says. “It also re­minded me that I needed to work more on my en­durance!” Com­pet­ing in such in­tense com­pe­ti­tions means that Daniel has to train right and eat right to be able to per­form at his best. It may sur­prise some that the per­sonal trainer doesn’t ex­actly watch what he eats.

“I’ve never counted macros in my life,” Daniel re­marks. “One of the good things about do­ing high level Cross­Fit is that you can al­most eat what you want.”

“Lead­ing up to a com­pe­ti­tion I try to eat a lot but also choose food with high qual­ity. It all comes down to fu­elling your work­outs with good nu­tri­ents,” he adds.

Due to the gru­elling na­ture of Cross­Fit work­outs. Daniel also takes a few dif­fer­ent sup­ple­ments to help with re­cov­ery. His picks are vi­ta­min D to help with bone den­sity and his im­mune sys­tem, omega-3 fatty acids for his joints, and mag­ne­sium for mus­cle re­cov­ery.

GO­ING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

So, how does one get from Cross­Fit novice to go­ing headto-head with some of the fittest guys around?

“There’s a big dif­fer­ence from an av­er­age gym-goer to how a Cross­Fit ath­lete trains,” the Swede ex­plains. “As a Cross­Fit ath­lete, your train­ing vol­ume is re­ally big and with a pur­pose. You work mostly by fol­low­ing a pro­gram from a coach that has pe­ri­odiza­tion and cy­cles with a spe­cific goal in mind. “At the same time you are con­stantly work­ing on the holes in your game! In broad strokes it’s a lot of strength, en­durance and gym­nas­tic work,” he adds.

Ev­ery­one needs to start some­where, and to Daniel, get­ting the right start in Cross­Fit is as sim­ple as train­ing at the right place with the right peo­ple. “My main ad­vice to some­one who wants to start with Cross­Fit is to join a Cross­Fit gym. It’s re­ally im­por­tant to be taught by peo­ple who can show you the right way to do the dif­fer­ent move­ments,” he em­pha­sises.

Even though Daniel will be hit­ting 40 in the near fu­ture, he has no plans to stop com­pet­ing.

“I’m plan­ning to wait un­til I’m 40 in or­der to be in the 40 to 44 age bracket. But un­til then, I wouldn’t mind do­ing team com­pe­ti­tions!”

“I TRY TO EAT A LOT BUT ALSO CHOOSE FOOD WITH HIGH QUAL­ITY. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO FU­ELLING YOUR WORK­OUTS WITH GOOD NU­TRI­ENTS.”

DANIEL AT AGE 18, 75KG.

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