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Sport & Issue 14

Official magazine of

training tips

Battle the bulge Prepare for Ramadan

Euro 2012 Preview The lowdown on the biggest football event of the year


sticking to the Game Plan “How I lost 20kgs and a wardrobe!” Member’s success story


NEW LOOK AND FLYING HIGH! WELCOME to the new look Sport&Fitness, the official magazine of Fitness First. We want you, the members, to feel that this is your magazine and over the coming months we’ll be keeping you up to date with everything that’s going on across Fitness First’s rapidly expanding network of Middle East gyms as well as publishing your various adventures and achievements. In this issue we’ve got the amazing story of diving instructor Marion Wagg who suffered a stroke-like injury during a dive off the coast of Dubai but, with the help of Fitness First, is fighting her way along the road to recovery. Marion’s a real inspiration and living proof of what you can do when you put your mind to it. We’ve also got a report from the wonderful trip to a yoga camp in Goa that 28 Fitness First members undertook along with instructor Peewee Sanchez, as well as details of an exciting new ‘Anti-Gravity Yoga’ class that is set to launch in Fitness First. The new look Sport&Fitness also features more training tips and advice from the experts at Fitness First than ever before. Ramadan is getting ever closer and it’s a common misconception that you can’t train if you fast during this period so check out our guide to preparing properly and maintaining your progress. We’ve also decided to let you in on the secret of how to eat your way to the perfect six pack, while Fitness First’s Corporate Wellness Manager Hisem Hagras brings you the lowdown on the benefits of adding swimming to your training schedule. As the region’s No.1 sports publication we’ll continue to bring you more exclusives with the world’s top stars than you can shake a stick at. Anybody who was lucky enough to witness the phenomenal motocross riders performing at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai during the recent X-Fighters event will have been blown away by their outlandish tricks and we got some amazing pictures of the action. It was the latest in a long line of world class sporting spectacles that we’ve been treated to in the region since the tail-end of last year. As the weather heats up attentions will turn to the international sporting calendar and it would be fair to say that there’s more than enough on the horizon to keep you occupied! Football fans will be interested in our guide to the action for EURO 2012 and our Q&A with England’s midfield dynamo Steven Gerrard. Most observers of the game have already handed the Cup to Spain but then who’d have thought that both Barcelona and Real Madrid would go crashing out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage? Football certainly is, as they say, a funny old game. I tracked down our cover star, British tennis sensation Andy Murray, for an exclusive chat in Barcelona ahead of the most important stretch of tournaments in his career which takes in three Grand Slams, with the small matter of the Olympic Games sandwiched between them. Andy sometimes gets accused of being ‘boring’ or ‘miserable’ simply because of his laid back tone during interviews but I found him to be a really interesting and engaging guy with much more to say and more humour in him than many top sports stars. Another fascinating person is Luci ‘Steel’ Romberg – a lady who earns a living throwing herself off buildings or underneath moving cars as a Hollywood stunt double. We caught up with Luci who revealed that her real passion lies in the fast growing sport of Freerunning. Finally, if you think the Personal Trainers at Fitness First give you tough training programmes, just take a look at our rundown of the world’s most gruelling races and you’ll realise how easy you’ve got it! We hope you have as much fun reading the magazine as we’ve had creating it.

Richard Bevan Editor


CONTENTS REgulars P6-11 Scene spectacular images from the sporting landscape p13-18 fitness first news a round up of what’s been happening in the region’s no.1 gym network p19 global news a concise look at recent happenings around the sporting globe p20-21 sports calendar WHAT’S AHEAD ON THE SPORTING HORIZON p57-71 health and fitness get the perfect 6-pack, prepare for ramadan and much more

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Features P25-31 Euro 2012 preview WE LOOK AHEAD TO THE SUMMER SHOWPIECE P32-33 Steven Gerrard the lionhearted liverpool captain targets england glory P35 37 THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST RACES FOR SOME PEOPLE A MERE MARATHON IS NO LONGER ENOUGH.. P38 - 45 cover story: Andy murray the british no.1 gears up for three career defining months P47-51 X Fighters DUBAI THE GIANTS OF MOTOCROSS DESCEND UPON JUMEIRAH BEACH p53 -55 behind the stars ONE OF THE WORLD’S FOREMOST SWIMMING COACHES talks about his life p72-77 LUCI ROMBERG AN EXCLUSIVE CHAT with the freerunning hollywood stuntwoman p79-80 leryn franco the sport of javelin never looked so good



earth Xavi Galindo shows he definitely doesn’t find motocross tiresome in Sibiu, Romania.





Picture by: Mihai Stetcu




ice Iouri Podladtchikov performs his gold medal run during the Men’s Superpipe Finals at the World Snowboarding Championships in Oslo, Norway.





Picture by:




air Red Bull’s King of the Rock isn’t your average streetball tournament – the US event takes place in famous Alcatraz prison while this international version saw competitors battle it out in the former Elwe prison in Kassel, Germany.






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John Abraham Thrills Fans at Fitness First Burjuman FITNESS First Burjuman Club received a surprise visitor recently – Bollywood superstar John Abraham. In Dubai to promote his home production ‘Vicky Donor’, Bollywood star Abraham visited Fitness First to showcase the film to members of the club. A diehard fitness enthusiast, he also took the time to talk about his personal fitness routine and offered tips on adopting an easy-to-practice régime. Joining the star was Ayushmann Khurrana, the lead actor in the upcoming film. Praveen Bhatnagar, Chief Executive

Officer, Fitness First, welcomed Abraham to the club. During his interaction with the members, he said: “Fitness features at the top of my agenda. It’s not just about looking good. Maintaining a healthy physique is a sure route to having a healthy mind, a reason why I am very conscious about getting the balance right with my diet and workout regime.” The two actors signed autographs to the delight of club members and were in turn presented with goodie bags from Fitness First.

THE Fitness First Facebook page now has almost 21,000 ‘likes’. The page has become a great platform for members to communicate and give their feedback on their experience at Fitness First. Here’s a selection of your comments: Finish the sentence: After every workout I feel ____________________. Answers: Ramona Bragdon Oswald…like a new woman! Thank you for such an incredible fitness centre. Janat Javellana Elcullada…sexy and awesome!!! Nouf Subah Extremely…happy and proud of myself X Gita Murdoch….like having a sauna and shower b4 taking on the day! Heart Stoler: Awesome place to work out. Love you FITNESS FIRST XXX see u in the evening at Bur Juman center Misses Khan: Found a great tip worth sharing with all ladies suffering with stretch marks at Fitness First Middle East. I found it useful hope it works for you as well. If you have stretch marks and find that cocoa butter isn’t working for you then try Vitamin E oil, it’s proven to be much more efficient in removing stretch marks and scars.

To join Fitness First’s rapidly growing Facebook page visit fitnessfirstme and click ‘like’



Celebrate Life with Dance – Strictly Successfully

More than 1,000 enthusiasts enjoy dance event FITNESS First hosted an event, ‘Celebrate Life with Dance,’ in the last weekend of February and it was a resounding success – almost on the lines of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing. More than 1,000 people of all ages and backgrounds took part. Fitness First’s two hour dance display featured a variety of GX routines, including Bodyjam, Zumba, Latin, Hip Hop and Freestyle. There were awards for ‘best male’ and ‘best female’ dancers as well as ‘most enthusiastic dancer.’ The winners received a trophy and an exclusive goody bag from Fitness First containing a Palmers gift hamper, Jabra headset and a one-month Fitness First membership. Fitness First member Myleen Ferrer commented: “The whole event was really fun and very well organised. It was something new and quite unique to do on a Friday afternoon. I had a fantastic time.” The fun-filled day concluded with a grand finale featuring the Fitness First Middle East GX Team in a ‘never-seen-before’ act. The skilfully performed piece was aimed at inspiring everyone to embrace dance and get fit while having fun.

Fitness First Swimming Academy Powered by Desert Sport Services

Swimming lessons available for adults and children Registration free until September 30 THE Fitness First Swimming Academy offers programmes based on the coursework of Desert Sports Services. Catering to adults and children, the programme includes four stages of learning: Beginners; Learn to Swim; the Stroke Development; Competitive Squads. The Academy also runs bonding classes for parents and toddlers. All course instructors are STA qualified and you can register free until September 30. Upon registering online at, individuals are assessed to determine their level of familiarity with the sport by qualified instructors who will then allocate groups. Members of Fitness First Swimming Academy will be required to pay a course fee. George Flooks, Chief Operating Officer, Fitness First Middle East, said: “At the Fitness First Swimming Academy we prioritise the grasping ability, as well as the growth and development needs of different age groups to ensure that the sport becomes a way of life for the individual. Designed for all ages and ability levels, the academy will provide a comfortable and stimulating environment to enable individuals achieve their swimming goals, whether it’s introducing their baby to the water, teaching their child to swim, or learning to swim and improve their swimming ability. We are confident this added incentive from Fitness First will motivate more members to focus on their personal and family well-being!” Swimming as a sport demands and develops a degree of discipline that is useful in all aspects of life. In addition, many experts agree that swimming is the very best form of physical exercise. These swimming programmes aim to provide a nurturing environment to enable each swimmer to achieve their potential by pushing the parameters of their comfort zone and stimulating continuous progress and achievement.






New Partnership for adidas and Fitness First Middle East

adidas becomes Official Outfitter for Fitness First Clubs


itness First Middle East have completed a comprehensive five-year agreement with adidas for the leading global sports brand to become their official outfitter. The agreement, which runs until 2016, extends to over 28 clubs in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. As the official outfitter to Fitness First Middle East, adidas will supply innovative performance sportswear to personal trainers, GX Instructors and club staff. “We are proud to announce a continuation of our partnership with Fitness First Middle East, an organisation that shares our commitment to help people across the Middle East push themselves to new limits and achieve their fitness objectives,” said Jad Chouman, Head of Marketing, Emerging Markets, adidas. “Fitness First is a leading brand recognised globally for its world-class facilities, services and innovative concepts that make it an ideal partner.” Speaking on the new agreement, Mark Botha, Sales and Marketing Director, Fitness First Middle East said: “We welcome the long-term support of adidas, a global leader in sports products and a company with a proud heritage in helping athletes reach their full potential

with performance technologies. This agreement symbolises the mutual respect and future ambition of adidas and Fitness First Middle East. Our collaboration will offer the very best training experience for fitness enthusiasts across the Middle East.” The announcement coincides with the adidas launch of training-specific products that have been developed and tested in collaboration with worldclass athletes to provide comfort, functionality and style in performance. adidas is set to launch its women’s and men’s training spring/summer 2012 collection across the Middle East. The women’s collection focuses on dance-inspired ClimaCool training, featuring the leading body temperature control technology ClimaCool® to provide outstanding breathability and moisture management. This season, both the women’s and men’s training collections focus on boxing-inspired training apparel

and footwear. The collections are also supported by the adizero range of lightweight footwear, which includes breathable sprint-web technology that moves as part of the athlete’s body in motion. Jad Chouman added: “Our association with the largest fitness chain in the region at a time of rapid growth will allow us to further strengthen and extend our market leadership in training. adidas is continuing to set new standards in innovative and groundbreaking performance products. It is, therefore, fitting that the professionals from Fitness First will be able to train while wearing the latest range of performanceenhancing adidas products.” The Fitness First agreement builds further upon the commitment of adidas to the Middle East through a range of local partnerships as official suppliers to regional athletes, clubs and sporting events that include Al Jazira FC UAE, Al Hilal KSA, the Dubai Standard Marathon and RAK Half Marathon – Esport/ Clark Francis Academy, UAE, Aviation Club UAE and MeFit Pro UAE, to name but a few. As part of its expansion plan, Fitness First Middle East aims to increase its network of branches to 34 clubs across the region by July.

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Fitness First Launch Community Clubs FITNESS First has announced the launch of Fitness First Community clubs. The addition of Fitness First Lakes, Fitness First Meadows, Fitness First Town Centre and Fitness First Al Manzil has added a new dimension to the brand’s health and fitness offering. Offering something slightly different to their current portfolio, these clubs are family focused – targeting the communities they are located in and offering a full-service health club for the communities to enjoy a social and fitness hub in their communities. Fitness First Community Clubs are located at key locations in the Emirates Living Area, as well as the nearby neighbourhood of Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai Internet City, TECOM Buildings, Al Barsha and Downtown Dubai. With their geographical spread these clubs are easily accessible for families in the Dubai area. Each club is unique with a different design and has an array of facilities to offer full-service health, fitness and leisure options.

Fitness First Lakes

Fitness First Lakes club hosts an impressive mixed gym area with best-in-class cardio, weight, strength training and freestyle equipment. To add to the fitness facilities the club offers an array of group exercise classes in the first-class group exercise and mind and body studios. The club features a sprawling lawn area that overlooks the lake as well as the beautiful leisure and children’s pool that is bordered with sunbeds, mattresses and umbrellas and a spa pool. Leisure facilities include two indoor squash courts while the outdoor leisure section is complimented with a volleyball area as well as two outdoor tennis courts. A specialised children’s play area is located outdoors to keep your children active and healthy offering something for all the family. Separate male and female changing rooms with steam rooms are also available to help you unwind after a long day at work or a strenuous workout. Members are invited to relax by the pool or enjoy a scrumptious meal at the Lakes Restaurant.

Fitness First Meadows

Fitness First Meadows club has the unique offering in the form of a multi-purpose 14,900 square foot indoor Sports Hall area with a seating capacity of 500 people. This offers sports activities including Basketball, football, badminton, tennis and much more. Also on offer is a mixed gym area that is fully equipped with best-in-class cardio, weights, strength training and freestyle equipment. To add to the fitness facilities we offer an array of group exercise classes in our first-class group exercise and mind and body studios. The club features a beautiful leisure and children’s pool that is bordered with sunbeds, mattresses and umbrellas with beautiful views of Dubai’s skyline. For leisure activities there are two indoor squash courts and two outdoor tennis courts. Specialised work out sessions designed to get your bodies burning calories will be held in the GX studios and their RPM room. Separate male and female changing rooms, steam rooms and wonderfully relaxing cold and hot spa pool as well as a separate locker area are available.






Fitness First Town Centre Fitness First Town Centre club houses a stunning 25 metre lap pool bordered by sunbeds and umbrellas perfect for competitive swimming. The Spa pool and the children’s pool compliment this half Olympic length pool. There’s also a mixed gym area that is fully equipped with state-of-the-art cardio, weights, strength training and freestyle equipment. An array of group exercise classes are offered in the first-class group exercise and mind and body studios. For leisure activities there are two indoor squash courts and two outdoor tennis courts. Separate male and female changing rooms, steam rooms and wonderfully relaxing Spa Pools are also available to help you unwind after a long day at work or a strenuous workout.

Fitness First Al Manzil

Another big mixed gym area with all the latest equipment forms the nucleus of the Al Manzil club while a beautiful leisure pool provides just the setting to unwind after your workout. You’ll find plenty to keep the little ones occupied at the Al Manzi club too with a kids pool and children’s play area. Squash lovers are again catered for at Al Manzil with an indoor court while there are changing rooms and steam rooms for both males and females. To add real value to the fitness experience there are also two GX studios on offer. Fitness First Al Manzil is the latest Platinum Club in the Fitness First Middle East portfolio.

Over the course of the year there will be a host of fun family activities available to engage and build the community spirit through these innovative new clubs. Follow us on for news of new membership options coming soon!



Fitness First Marks 28th Club in GCC Region with Opening of Rabwah Club THE opening of the Rabwah Club at Sitteen Street in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has taken the total number of Fitness First clubs in the Middle East region to 28. Part of Fitness First’s expansion plans in the Middle East, the gym offers first-rate amenities within a 2,300 sq. metre floor area, and includes a GX studio as well as the latest innovations in freestyle training and TRX workouts. The Rabwah Club can already be deemed an immense success, having drawn more than 350 members’ registrations ahead of the official opening. The Club is fitted-out with an exclusive members-only lounge, offering free internet access. With 13 personal trainers, as well as its luxurious sauna, steam and relaxation areas that have come

to be regarded a standard for Fitness First clubs. George Flooks, Chief Operating Officer, Fitness First Middle East, said: “The Rabwah Club comes on the back of the phenomenal success Fitness First has experienced in the Saudi Arabian market. Our growth is testimony to the seriousness with which Saudi nationals are taking towards adopting a healthier lifestyle. “The opening of the Rabwah Club also takes us a step forward in our over-arching growth plans for 2012. We are keen to mark a wider presence this year across the GCC region and thereby cater to an increased clientele base through offering the latest innovations in training and a gym that helps members stay fit.”

Mixed Club at Deira City Centre FITNESS First Middle East has opened its latest mixed club at the Deira City Centre as part of its strategic expansion plan in the Middle East. The brand new club, conveniently located adjacent to the metro station, features an impressive 2,000 sq. metre workout floor for men and women with free weights and strength areas. The club also houses the best-in-class exercise machines from industry-leading manufacturers. Group exercise with over 100 certified instructors affiliated with the world famous Les Mills programmes including BodyPump®, BodyCombat®, BodyBalance®, BodyAttack®, BodyStep® BodyJam® and the popular Zumba fitness routine are drawing an increasing number of new members to the club. Yoga Alliance certified instructors across several disciplines of yoga including Hatha, Iyengar, and Power Yoga, as well as the Fitness First’s exclusive Dynamic and Gentle Flow Yoga feature as an integral offering of the club. Members also have the option to take oneon-one training with internationally accredited leading fitness professionals. George Flooks, Chief Operating Officer, Fitness First Middle East, said: “Fitness First was envisioned to help society adopt a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The opening of the branch at Deira City Centre reaffirms our commitment in this direction. With its ideal location in a vibrant commercial area, we hope to provide the working community with easy access to the club, allowing them to stop by on their way home from work. On a broader canvas, the rapid increase of our presence in the region allows us to continue extending the opportunity for individuals to get fit and stay healthy.” The mixed club at Deira City Centre boasts a hidden Harvia sauna in the changing area to offer members a much-needed respite from the dry heat. Audio and visual entertainment options ensure an invigorating ambience throughout the club. Furthermore, cardio machines on the mezzanine floor face the stunning creek to give members a calming effect. The lounge also serves as a great place to unwind and meet friends after a vigorous routine. Complimentary drinks and seamless WIFI access are some of the additional features that make each visit to the club a worthwhile trip.

FIRST CLUB IN ABU DHABI OPENS FITNESS First Middle East are opening of two new clubs: The mixed-club at the European Business Centre in the Green Community, Dubai, as well as a ladies-only club at the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. The European Business Centre is an excellent 1,000 sq. metre facility, while the Marina Mall ladies-only club is an impressive 1,160 sq. metre facility that marks Fitness First’s arrival in Abu Dhabi. Both clubs boast dedicated freestyle, free weights, strength, and cardio sections as well as Group Exercise (GX) studios, stretch zones and personal training areas. It also features the everpopular members’ lounge and sauna-equipped changing rooms. Additionally, clubs at Ibn Batutta, Burjuman Centre and Dubai Media City have been extensively renovated. As part of the refurbishments, brand new equipment has been installed at all locations as well as new freestyle areas allocated. The club facilities have also been rearranged in fresh and convenient layouts and the walls painted in refreshing hues. The makeover comes as part of Fitness First’s commitment to its members to offer the best facilities and enhance the overall member experience. Another accomplishment for Fitness First includes the upgrade of the DIFC Club to Platinum status, which was effected with enhancements such as a new RPM studio and ‘Core’ juice bar.






UAE AND UK PAIRED IN OLYMPIC DRAW THE UAE were handed a tough qualifying draw in the London 2012 Olympic men’s football tournament when they were drawn against host nation the UK, Uruguay and Senegal in Group A. “Playing in the same group (as Team GB) will keep our players under the spotlight and we need to make the maximum benefit of the opportunity,” said the President of the UAE Football Association’s interim committee Yousuf Al Serkal. “We are confident that our Olympic national team have gained enough experience and are capable of facing the upcoming challenge. The national technical staff has been doing a great job and knows how to handle the affair in the light of the great experiences which they have gained in the qualifiers. The UAE FA will dedicate all of its resources to support the boys in white in their campaign. “ The national team will play Uruguay at Old Trafford in Manchester on July 26 before taking on the hosts at Wembley in London, with the final group stage match against Senegal at the City of Coventry Stadium on August 1.

RIGHT DECISION MADE SAYS BAHRAIN BOSS BAHRAIN International Circuit boss Zayed Alzayani believes that the fact the Bahrain GP took place without the expected drama at the end of April is proof that the right decision was made for the race to go ahead. “I think we have proved to the world that whatever is happening on the political scene has nothing to do with what is happening on track,” Alzayani said. “Life goes on, and hopefully this will be a catalyst on the government and the opposition to sort out whatever political differences they have and move forward. “Holding a race is not something new to us. We have done seven Grands Prix before this one, and I think we have been victimised over the last year. Hopefully by next year when we have the race, all of this will be behind us. “I am glad it happened and I am glad it went well, and glad that everybody finally saw that the threats, and the talk of bombs and sabotaging the race, did not happen.”

WIMBLEDON PURSE TO RISE THE organisers of Wimbledon have announced that the prize money at this year’s event is set to rise by 10% to £16.1 million. A record £1.15 million will be awarded to the men’s and women’s singles champions but the biggest increases will go to those players finishing lower down the field. First round losers will get 26% more – £14,500 instead of £11,500 – while those losing in the Wimbledon qualifying event will receive 21% more. “We must help players meet the rising costs of professional tennis,” said All England Club Chairman Philip Brook.

20 MAY


May 1-5 Squash Asian Team Championships, Late Sheikh / Salem Al-Sabah Int’l Squash Complex, Kuwait May 5 Football The FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London, England

May 17 Cricket England V West Indies Test Match Series, Lords, London, England May 24 Golf BMW PGA Championship Wentworth, Surrey, England

May 11 Athletics Diamond League meeting, Doha, Qatar May 11 – 13 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix Montmelo, Spain

May 19 – 22 Special Olympics Football MENA 11-a-side Unified Middle East Cup Dubai, UAE May 25-27 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix Monte Carlo

May 17 Golf Volvo World Match Play Championship Finca Cotesin, Andalucía, Spain

May 25 Cricket England V West Indies Test Match Series, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England

May 25 – 30 Balbak Sports Camp Special Olympics Lebanon Centre, Balbak, Ras El-Ein, Lebanon The second edition of the Sports Camp of Balbak will include Cycling, Roller Skating, Soccer, Tennis and Bowling.

May 27 - June 10 Tennis French Open

May 3 – 5 Motor Sport Jordan Rally Amman, Jordan. The Jordan Rally joined the FIA World Rally Championship in 2008 with Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen taking the chequered flag. In 2009 it didn’t feature on the FIA calendar but it was re-instated in 2010 with Frenchman Sebastien Loeb finishing on top of the podium. Last year another Frenchman prevailed with Sebastien Ogier taking the honours. May 26 – June 8 Motorcycling The Isle of Man TT races Isle of Man



June 7 Cricket England V West Indies Test Match Series, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England





June 22 Cricket England V West Indies One Day International Series, Headingly, Leeds, England June 23 Mixed Martial Arts UFC 147, Chael Sonnen vs Anderson Silva Joao Havelange Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 24 Cricket England V West Indies International Twenty20 Match, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England

June 14 Golf US Open Championship, Olympic Club, San Francisco, United States The cream of the golfing world descends on the west coast of the USA to compete for the US Open, one of the four Majors of the season. Defending his crown will be Rory McIlroy who cruised to an incredible 8-shot victory last year in Washington DC. McIlroy made it back-toback victories for Northern Ireland as had Graeme McDowell claimed the title in 2010 at Pebble Beach. June 16 Cricket England V West Indies One Day International Series, The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, England June 19 Cricket England V West Indies One Day International Series, The Kia Oval, London, England

June 24 Formula 1 European Grand Prix, Valencia, Spain

June 25 - July 8 The All England Lawn Tennis Championships, Wimbledon, London, England. June 29 Cricket England V Australia One Day International Series, Lord’s, London, England

June 30 – July 22 Cycling Tour de France, France

June 8 – July 1 UEFA Euro 2012, Ukraine & Poland – co hosts Every four years UEFA host their European Championships and this year Poland and the Ukraine take centre stage as joint hosts. Defending champions and current World Cup holders Spain are the strong favourites but a resurgent Germany, the strong Dutch and the steady Italians are ready to make their challenges. The English, much fancied after an unbeaten qualification campaign, will have work to do after the shock resignation of former manager Fabio Capello in February and Roy Hodgson’s late appointment in April.





Feel chic and fashionable on the move with Reeboks’ EasyTone collection THE Sport of Fitness has certainly arrived and whatever exercise routine or fitness level you’re working towards, international fitness experts and creators of The Sport of Fitness brand campaign, Reebok, have used their innovative technologies to develop the ultimate range of athletic footwear. If you are just starting out on your first fitness quest, or a regular face at the gym, check out the new Reebok EasyTone, RunTone+ and SlimTone spring / summer 2012 collections, with footwear ranges specifically designed to suit all fitness levels and available in a variety of chic styles and colours, you will find the perfect footwear partner to achieve your fitness ambition. New for SS12 the EasyTone+ Vive and EasyTone+ Reecrave Lo combine Reebok’s propriety Moving Air Technology and 3D Ultralite sole with high performance mesh for maximum comfort and ventilation. Also new to the collection is the EasyTone Pride, featuring a cushioned midsole and molded sock liner

for even more support and comfort, great for turning walking into a workout. In addition to the EasyTone range, women can get a lighter supportive run with the new RunTone+ Direct, the first from the RunTone collection to incorporate 3D Ultralite technology. This pure performance sneaker features an athletic, breathable mesh for added comfort and a lighter ride compared to the original RunTone making it perfect for fitness enthusiasts. For everyday walking, women need look no further than Reebok’s SlimTone Edge. The lightest in Reebok’s EasyTone collection, this low-profile shoe features foam balance pod technology. Inspired by the sleek design of racing shoes, the SlimTone Edge provides a cleaner, sleeker look for the style-conscious woman. Women around the world have embraced EasyTone footwear since its launch in 2009. The EasyTone SS12 collection is now available at Reebok stores and leading sports retailers across the Middle East.


Euro 2012 Preview


Kings of Europe waiting to be crowned UEFA PRESIDENT Michel Platini is confident that this summer’s UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine will be a “magnificent celebration of European Football”, and with a quick look at some of the qualified nations along with some of the players due to lace up at the tournament he surely can’t be wrong. The two host nations have transformed their existing stadia into state-of-the-art facilities worthy of hosting such a tournament. Holders Spain are the clear favourites having won Euro 2008 and the FIFA World Cup two years ago, but the likes of Germany and the Netherlands are two teams that are maturing together nicely while Italy, France and England can not be overlooked either. In its history there have been some huge shocks, including as recently as 2004 when Greece overcame the odds to triumph with a gritty 1-0 win over hosts Portugal in the Final. The 1992 tournament was made famous when Denmark, who had only been handed a place in the event 10 days prior to kick off after the expulsion of the old Yugoslavia, went on a mazy run that saw them conquer France and the Netherlands before despatching a shell-shocked Germany 2-0 in the Final. The football world is currently witness to some of the finest talent that the game has ever seen. Portugal Captain Cristiano Ronaldo has just passed 100 goals in Real Madrid colours in just 92 appearances while Spain can almost field a team of UEFA Champions League winners thanks to a squad littered with talent from Madrid and Barcelona. World Cup finalists two years ago, Germany’s squad has grown together with young starlets Mezut Ozil (Real Madrid), Thomas Mulller (Bayern Munich) and Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund) each graduating through the youth teams and into the first team while the Netherland’s new golden generation which features the likes of Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Raphael Van Der Vaart are all hitting their peak. All the ingredients are there for this to be one of the most engrossing tournaments in recent history. Game on!




EURO BEST: Group stage (2008) Manager: Franciszek Smuda All time leading scorer: Włodzimierz Lubański (48) Current leading scorer: Ebi Smolarek (20) Qualified: As host nation Key players: Robert Lewandowski (fw), Wojciech Szczęsny (gk)

EURO BEST: Winners (2004) Manager: Fernando Santos All time leading scorer: Nikos Anastopoulos (29) Current leading scorer: Angelos Charisteas (25) Qualified: Winners Group F Key players: Giorgos Karagounis (mf ), Theofanis Gekas (fw)

World Cup semi-finalists in 1974 and 1982, Poland had to wait until 2008 before they qualified for the European Championship for the first time but exited at the group stage as they had done at the World Cups of 2002 and 2006. The Polish team of the mid 70s and early 80s was one of flair and industry and no one player typified their ethos than striker Grzegorz Lato. The nippy frontman is the only Polish player to win the Golden Boot at a World Cup (1974) and in 2008 he was elected President of the Polish FA where he hopes to oversee another Golden era of Polish football. The hosts will be looking to impress the watching world.

Greece were unbeaten in their qualifying campaign thanks to a series of narrow victories which was in keeping with their success in EURO 2004 when their emphasis on team ethic due to a shortage of star players saw them beat Portugal 1-0. In their defence four years ago they were eliminated in the group stage after three losses. Aside from their win in 2004, Greece have never been past the group stage in any of their appearances in a major championship. They have qualified for two World Cups (1994, 2010) but failed to progress.




Czech Republic

EURO BEST: Winners (1960 – as Soviet Union) Manager: Dick Advocaat All time leading scorer: Vladimir Beschastnykh (26) Current leading scorer: Roman Pavlyuchenko (20) Qualified: Winners Group B Key players: Roman Pavlyuchenko (fw), Igor Akinfeev (gk)

EURO BEST: Runner-up (1996) Manager: Michal Bílek All time leading scorer: Jan Koller (55) Current leading scorer: Milan Baros (40) Qualified: Via play-off Key players: Tomáš Rosický (mf ), Petr Cech (gk)

Semi-finalists in 2008, Russia approach EURO 2012 confident after topping a major tournament qualifying group for the first time in five attempts. Dick Advocaat’s side conceded four goals in 10 qualifiers but it was their attack that illuminated EURO 2008, and Captain Andrey Arshavin in particular. Suspended for the first two games, he returned to lead them out of their group and then past the Netherlands. Eventual winners Spain put an end to their progress.

The Czechs finished second behind Spain in their qualifying group and just ahead of Scotland after a topsy-turvy campaign. They were drawn to face Montenegro in the two-legged play-off and won 3-0 on aggregate to qualify for EURO 2012. The National side has undergone a lot of changes in the last two years and coach Michal Bílek admits his side are not one of the front runners. In 1996 they were the beaten finalists at Wembley as Germany won with a goal from Oliver Bierhoff in extra time and in 2004 they were beaten at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Greece.

Euro 2012 Preview




EURO BEST: Winners (1988) Manager: Bert van Marwijk All time leading scorer: Patrick Kluivert (40) Current leading scorer: Ruud Van Nistelrooy (35) Qualified: Winners Group E Key players: Robin Van Persie (fw), Arjen Robben (mf )

EURO BEST: Winners (1992) Manager: Morten Olsen All time leading scorer: Poul Nielsen, Jon Dahl Tomasson (52) Current leading scorer: Dennis Rommedahl (21) Qualified: Winners Group H Key players: Christian Eriksen (mf ), Nicklas Bendtner (fw)

The Netherlands stormed through qualifying and only dropped points in their final game when they were already guaranteed top spot. In 2010 they were defeated in the World Cup Final for the third time in their history and if they get through this ‘Group of Death’ they will be much fancied to go far this year. Raphael Van der Vaart has been in inspired form for Tottenham Hotspur this season as has goal machine Robin Van Persie for their North London rivals Arsenal. Arjen Robben is one of the deadliest wingers in the game while in central midfield Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder and Manchester City’s Nigel De Jong add stability and composure.

Denmark shocked the footballing world in 1992 when they won the European Championships after replacing Yugoslavia just 10 days prior to the tournament. They qualified this year at the summit of Group H, which included Portugal and Norway, and Manager Morten Olsen, who has been in charge since 2000, will be hoping his young team can summon the spirit of 20 years ago and pull off another unexpected win.





EURO BEST: Winners (1972, ’80, ’96) Manager: Joachim Löw All time leading scorer: Gerd Müller (68) Current leading scorer: Miroslav Klose (63) Qualified: Winners Group A Key players: Mezut Özil (mf ), Miroslav Klose (fw)

EURO BEST: Runner-up (2004) Manager: Paulo Bento All time leading scorer: Pauleta (47) Current leading scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (32) Qualified: Via play-off Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Meireles

Germany became the first side to qualify for the finals after eight successive wins saw them top the group with two matches to spare. They won their remaining two matches to win the group 13 points clear of Turkey. Chief goal-getter Miroslav Klose is six goals shy of breaking the all-time scoring record, currently held by legendary poacher Gerd Müller. Defeated by Spain in the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, this young German side is getting better and better as they grow and play alongside each other.

Portugal replaced former coach Carlos Queiroz with Paulo Bento just two games into their qualifying campaign after one loss and a draw. The new boss turned around their fortunes, culminating in a resounding 6-2 aggregate play-off triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani can win games virtually on their own and on their day the 2004 finalists will be a match for anybody.




EURO BEST: Winners (1964, 2008) Manager: Vicente del Bosque All time leading scorer: David Villa (51) Current leading scorer: David Villa (51) Qualified: Winners Group I Key players: Iker Casillas (gk), Xavi Hernandez (mf )

EURO BEST: Winners (1968) Manager: Cesare Prandelli All time leading scorer: Luigi Riva (35) Current leading scorer: Alessandro Del Piero (27) Qualified: Winners Group C Key players: Giorgio Chiellini (df ), Andrea Pirlo (mf )

Spain will be looking to do what no other international team has ever done before – win three major tournaments in succession. After decades of being perennial nearly-men Spain finally broke their drought with victory at EURO 2008 beating Germany 1-0 in the Final and two years later in South Africa they clinched World Cup glory with a gutsy 1-0 win over a feisty Dutch side. The dazzlingly talented Spanish side won eight matches in a row to qualify for EURO 2012 as group winners and are strong favourites to defend their title this summer.

Italy qualified for EURO 2012 with the meanest defence of all as they were unbeaten in Group C with just two goals conceded. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon earned his 110th cap in the final qualifier against Northern Ireland, taking him to fourth on Italy’s all-time appearance list and it is he and his back line who are responsible for keeping the opposition at bay. Often criticised for being too workman-like, they do have flair players like Riccardo Montolivo, Mario Balotelli and Giuseppe Rossi pulling the strings in attack.



Republic of Ireland


EURO BEST: Group stage (1988) Manager: Giovanni Trapattoni All time leading scorer: Robbie Keane (53) Current leading scorer: Robbie Keane (53) Qualified: Via play-offs Key players: Robbie Keane (fw), Shay Given (gk)

EURO BEST: Quarter-Finals (1996, 2008) Manager: Slaven Bilić All time leading scorer: Davor Šuker (45) Current leading scorer: Eduardo (22) Qualified: Via play-off Key players: Luka Modrić (mf ), Ivica Olić (fw)

The Republic of Ireland are making just their second appearance at the Euros after overcoming Estonia in a play-off. Italian Giovanni Trapattoni took the reigns in 2008 and his team were dealt a cruel blow two years ago when Thierry Henry’s handball in extra time robbed them of a chance of appearing at the World Cup in South Africa. This year there was no play-off heartache as they despatched Estonia 5-1 on aggregate. In their group they lost just one match – to group winners Russia 3-2 – and veterans Robbie Keane and Shay Given were in top form throughout.

Bayern Munich star Ivica Olić proved the catalyst for Croatia’s twolegged play-off win over Turkey to qualify for the Euros after he made his first competitive start in 13 months in the first leg and scored after just two minutes. Coach Slaven Bilić will be hoping the midfield mastery of Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka Modrić and Niko Kranjcar and the forward presence of Olic and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Eduardo can propel them through this difficult group.

Euro 2012 Preview




EURO BEST: Debut Manager: Oleh Blokhin All time leading scorer: Andriy Shevchenko (46) Current leading scorer: Andriy Shevchenko (46) Qualified: As hosts Key players: Andriy Shevchenko (fw), Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (mf )

EURO BEST: Semi-final (1992) Manager: Erik Hamrén All time leading scorer: Sven Rydell (49) Current leading scorer: Zlatan Ibrahimović (29) Qualified: Best runner-up Key players: Zlatan Ibrahimović (fw), Sebastian Larsson (mf )

Ukraine reached the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals in their only other previous major tournament appearance since independence in 1991 and as co-hosts this year they’ll be looking to go even further. The pressure will be on with coach Oleh Blokhin having set his team a target of reaching the knockout stages from their group – a tough ask considering their opponents.

Sweden’s passage to Euro 2012 was secured as the best runner-up from all the groups as they finished Group E with 18 points, clear of Portugal and Croatia who only managed 16 points in their groups. The Swedes have an experienced defence with the likes of Olof Mellberg and Daniel Majstorović both approaching 35 but in attack players with the talent of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Sebastien Larrson and Johan Elmander are more than capable of masterminding a victory.





EURO BEST: Winners (1984, 2000) Manager: Laurent Blanc All time leading scorer: Thierry Henry (51) Current leading scorer: Karim Benzema (13) Qualified: Winners Group D Key players: Karim Benzema (fw), Samir Nasri (mf )

EURO BEST: Semi-finals (1986, 1996) Manager: Roy Hodgson All time leading scorer: Sir Bobby Charlton (49) Current leading scorer: Wayne Rooney (28) Qualified: Winners Group H Key players: Wayne Rooney (fw), Scott Parker (mf )

France left it late to qualify for EURO 2012. They needed a late penalty from Samir Nasri to earn a 1-1 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina in their final game to seal their place at the top of Group D. Laurent Blancs’s team had spent the majority of the campaign at the top of the group despite a shock opening round defeat at home to Belarus. They will be looking to bounce back from a humiliating outing at the World Cup two years ago where player mutiny and poor tactics from previous coach Raymond Domenech saw them exit bottom of their group with one 0-0 draw and two losses.

England qualified with an unbeaten record from Group H but were rocked when head coach Fabio Capello resigned in February after the FA stripped the captaincy of Chelsea centre half John Terry. The surprise appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager should provide some much needed stability but despite his wealth of experience he hasn’t got much time to get to grips with the job. Experience and leadership on the pitch shouldn’t be an issue with the likes of Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry each with 70+ caps but the fact that attacking talisman Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two fixtures could cause England a real problem.

Euro 2012 Preview

ones to watch


Mario Gotze (Germany)

Luka Modric (Croatia)

Nineteen-year-old Mario Goetze recently signed a new five-year deal at Borussia Dortmund to fend off interest from European giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Arsenal. The mercurial midfielder is rated by the German Football Association’s technical director Matthias Sammer as “one of the greatest talents that we’ve ever had.” Short, difficult to knock off the ball and with the vision and technical ability that defies his age, Gotze is set for a huge career.

Tottenham’s chief string-puller for the last few years has been play-maker Luca Modric and the little Croatian has excelled both domestically and in Europe, impressing during Spurs’s Champions League debut two seasons ago. The diminutive midfielder has the vision and ability to pick a pass and has the engine to play anywhere in the midfield. Give him the ball and good things will happen for the Croats.

Pedro (Spain)

Robin Van Persie (Netherlands)

You could pick just about any player as posing a threat from Spain’s all-conquering national team – Xavi and Iniesta would top many lists – but Pedro’s adaptability makes him Spain’s real dangerman in attack this summer. Pedro opened the scoring in the 2011 Champions League final for Barcelona against Manchester United and is no stranger to the big occasion. Drifting in from the wings he has the positional sense to cause unrest against any defence in the world.

The figurehead of the Dutch attack, Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie has had a sensational season, scoring 37 goals in all competitions and winning both the PFA and Football Writer’s Player of the Year awards in England. The 28-year-old is in the prime of his career and the development of his game has seen him become one of the world’s top players. Can he inspire his international teammates as he does for Arsenal? Time will tell.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Ashley Young (England) Manchester United’s Ashley Young has had a tremendous debut season for the Red Devils and has successfully transferred his domestic form to the international arena. The tricky winger has quick feet and is usually deployed on the left of an attacking trio to cut inside and bend his crosses and shots towards goal. Without Wayne Rooney in the opening two games, Young’s attacking input will be crucial to England’s chances of progressing.

Officially the deadliest European striker on the planet, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring exploits over the past 12 months have only been overshadowed by his fierce Barcelona rival, Argentina’s Lionel Messi. Ronaldo is the all-round footballer and is a constant headache for defences. With blistering pace, balance, unrivalled strength and stamina and stunning deal ball capabilities, Portugal’s captain will send spectators into raptures this summer.

Karim Benzema (France) It’s hard to steal the limelight from Cristiano Ronaldo in Real Madrid’s current forward line but Frenchman Karim Benzema is giving it his best shot with plenty of goals for himself in La Liga’s new league Champions. Benzema won’t have Ronaldo setting them up for him for Les Blues this summer but he can rely on the likes of Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri and Mathieu Valbuena to provide plenty of goalscoring opportunities to feast on.

Key Fixtures: Opening match: Poland v Greece, Sat June 9 Group fixtures: Sat June 9 – Tues June 19 Quarter finals: June 21 – June 24 Semi finals: June 27 & 28 Final: July 1, Kiev

Daniele De Rossi (Italy) Roma’s Daniele De Rossi is one of the finest midfield generals of his generation. The 28-year-old anchorman has made over 70 appearances for the Azzurri and is approaching 400 club appearances in what has been a remarkable career. He has that natural ability to drift into goalscoring positions while is strong in the tackle and has an engine which puts most midfielders to shame. Comparrisons with former Republic of Ireland and Manchester United Captain Roy Keane aren’t far wide of the mark as De Rossi too has the desire to take any game by the scruff of the neck and turn it to his favour.

THE FINAL Venue: Olympic Stadium ; Kiev (UKraine). Also stages 3 Group D matches, one quarter final Capacity: 65,720

Euro2 012



Steven gerrard AS part of England’s so called ‘Golden Generation’ along with the likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, which promised so much but has ultimately flattered to deceive, Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard knows that EURO 2012 may well represent his last chance of success at international level. He was captain of the Three Lions two years ago in South Africa as they crashed out of the World Cup with the ignominy of a 4-1 defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Germany the midfielder is desperate for a better showing in Poland and the Ukraine this summer.

SFME: This could be your last major international tournament, after so many frustrations, how satisfying would it be to go out on a high if it were to be your last? SG: If you put things into perspective, we’ve only been successful at one tournament ever and that makes you realise just how difficult it is to be successful at this level. But it would be nice, if this is to be my last tournament, to get to a semi-final or a final rather than come away disappointed like we have been previously. Going into any tournament as a player, you always take it as your last because you never know what could happen two years down the line. But I’m 31, I’ll be 32 by the time EURO 2012 comes around, so, whatever happens, I’ll be treating it as my last one. SFME: It’s a big blow to England not having star striker Wayne Rooney available for the first two group stage games after he was red-carded in the final qualifier against Montenegro. Do you still think he warrants a place in the squad despite the fact he may only play one game? SG: I watched the Montenegro game at home. I got a few mates and my brother round and we just watched it. It was a shame for Wayne and I know that will have hurt him very much. No one will be feeling that disappointment more than he will. We’ve now got to get out of the group and hope that he’s fit, fresh and available for us as we hopefully go further on into the tournament. If it was my decision, then I’d certainly take him but it’ll be up to the manager. He’s a player of such great ability and you can’t leave him out. We’re assuming we’re going to progress past the group stages and then you need players like Wayne Rooney in your team if you’re going to have a successful tournament.

SFME: There’s a lot of competition for places in England’s midfield. You’ve often been played out wide on the left or in the hole behind the striker, which you could be asked to do again in Rooney’s absence. Would it bother you if you weren’t in your favoured position in the middle of midfield this summer? SG: All through my career I’ve played in different positions and given it my best and I’ll do the same again if asked to. I like getting forward, getting into the box, scoring goals and setting goals up which is a big part of my game. SFME: What have you made of the emergence of Scott Parker in the midfield? SG: Scott has done fantastic. I think he’s used the disappointment of not getting into squads in the past to really drive him on and improve his game. I think that’s showing in his performances. He was probably one of England’s most consistent players over the course of qualification and certainly deserves his place in the team. SFME: Were you surprised by Fabio Capello’s exit? SG: Yes, I was surprised, of course. I thought he would stay until the end of the summer, until the end of his contract and then move on, so it was a bit of a surprise. SFME: You know Roy Hodgson from his time at Liverpool, what do you think of his appointment as England manager? SG: I’ve worked with Roy. He’s a good man and a good manager. It’s important he’s given a chance and I’m looking forward to working with him again.

*Value 8,595 AED



Ready, Set –


FOR some people a quick kick-about with the kids in the park or a nice 9-hole stroll around the local links might be enough exercise on a weekend...but then there are those who require something a tad more challenging. The human body is capable of great things and pushing it to the very limits of its endurance is something that athletes and fitness fanatics have been doing since the dawn of time. Our instinct to explore new things and new places has given birth to some incredible events in some of the most beautiful and hostile environments on the planet. Whether on foot or on skis, SFME looks at some of the most gruelling races in the world.

Arctic Circle Race Mental strength, good physical fitness and a taste for adventure are the most important qualities required for skiers who partake in the Arctic Circle Race in Greenland. Racers sleep in tents in the middle of the wilderness with temperatures plummeting and during the race itself they are accompanied by dogsleds for safety reasons. A route of 160km must be navigated over a threeday period and the way is pointed by bamboo sticks with the occasional signpost telling you how many kilometres to the next drinking station.

The Primal Quest

Marathon de Sables The Marathon de Sables is run over six days on a course through the Sahara Desert in Morocco which measures roughly 255km. The race is broken down into five stages per day and there is one rest day before the longest single stage (the longest in race history was in 2009 – a 91km trek). Around 1000 runners, up to 200 members of the press and a support team of around 400 set off annually into vicious terrain and soaring temperatures. As organisers say, the race, like the runners who tackle it, is “special and idiosyncratic.�

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Set in the glorious Alps mountain range across France, Switzerland and Italy, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a single-stage ultramarathon which takes place once a year. There is no prize money on offer and participants can choose to hike or run the circuit which loops around Mont Blanc after starting and ending in the village of Chamonix. The circuit is 166km with a total altitude gain of around 9,500m. Participants are encouraged to carry equipment for safety reasons, including a waterproof jacket, warm clothes, food and water, a whistle, a survival blanket and a head lamp. Widely regarded as the toughest foot race in Europe, the UTMB takes between 20-45 hours to complete.

Taking place over various locations across Western America, The Primal Quest stands out from other endurance races in that it lasts up to 10 days. The race started in 2002 in Telluride, Colorado before heading to places like Lake Tahoe, Montano and the last edition in 2009 was held in Badlands South Dakota. After a three-year hiatus The Primal Quest is set for a return in 2013 and will again be set somewhere in western USA but details are yet to be confirmed. The race sees teams of four undertake a nonstop 10-day route across a 600km+ course which requires trekking, mountaineering, canyoneering, mountain biking, horseback riding, white-water swimming and day and night navigation. All members of the team must finish together to officially complete the race. Sound gruelling enough? It can be worth it. The winners of the take home prize money of $150,000 between them.

Namibia 24-hour Ultra Marathon



The Ironman Series began as a small challenge between a group of Navy Seals but has since grown into one of the world’s most recognised endurance events on the planet. What was originally a combination of the Waikiki Rough Water swim, the Around Oahu Bike Race and the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii, an Ironman event now consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. The Ironman qualifying series includes 28 events throughout the world and those who qualify from these events will compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. For the truly hardy there is the Triple Ironman – a 7.2 mile swim followed by a 336 mile cycle followed by a 78.6 mile run.

The Namibia 24-hour Ultra Marathon is a combination of three marathon runs (totalling 126km) in the space of 24 hours in various conditions across the Namib Desert, situated towards the southern westerly tip of Africa. Runners are completely self-reliant from the start to the end and must carry food, equipment and fluids on their backs but water stations and medical tents are provided at 21km intervals along the route. The desert stretches out as far as the eye can see and marathoners run with the sun on their backs during the day and often under the light of a full moon at night with temperatures ranging from 5˚c and up to 36˚c.

Spartathlon The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the following day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by this report from the Greek historian five officers of the British Royal Air Force, who were also keen longdistance runners, travelled to Greece in 1982 to see if it was possible to cover the 250 kilometre trip in one and a half days. They found, much to their surprise, that the report from Herodotus was very plausible. Two years later the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded and it has continuously organised the race each September. Forty eight hardened souls signed up for the first event in the early 1980s and this year over 350 people have lined up to take part.

Badwater Ultramarathon Originally run between the lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States – Badwater, Death Valley (−282 ft) and Mt. Whitney’s summit (14,505 ft), the Badwater Ultramarathon is held every year and is one of the toughest land races of the lot. The two points are just eight miles apart on a map but the land route between them measures 148 miles around lakebeds, salt flats and over mountain ranges. The route was first mapped out by Stan Rodefer and Jim Burnworth from San Diego in 1969 before Al Arnold attempted to run from point to point unsuccessfully in 1974 and 1975 before he finally completed running the course in 80 hours in 1977. Ten years later it became an official, organised footrace. There’s no course support en-route – people dishing out water etc – but year after year people rush to take part in this gruelling race.

ready to do the

Business British tennis No.1 Andy Murray talks exclusively to Richard Bevan about his preparations for the biggest three months of his career and reveals the real story behind the new haircut.



S significant periods in the career of a sportsman go, they don’t come much bigger than the one Andy Murray is currently standing at the precipice of. The 24-year-old Scottish tennis ace is approaching the peak years of his career. He’s now consistently producing a high level of performance in all of the Grand Slams and last season became only the seventh player in the Open era to reach at least the semi-finals of all four in one calendar year. He continued the trend at the Australian Open earlier this year where his thrilling semi-final five-setter against eventual winner Novak Djokovic could easily have gone the other way. Murray is closer than he’s ever been to ending Britain’s 66-year wait for male Grand Slam winner and with a mouth-watering schedule of French Open, Wimbledon, Olympics and US Open about to commence the World No.4 knows now is the time to make his mark.

BEST CHANCE “With the guys that I’ve got around me and the amount of work I’m doing – I’m doing everything I can to give myself the best possible chance,” says Murray. “It’s down to me to show I can play my best tennis at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open this year as well as the Olympics. As long as you keep working hard and doing the right things you’ve got to believe in the process.” With a sport as physically and mentally demanding as tennis, it’s all about preparation – rest and recovery are just as important as practice when the tournaments are coming thick and fast and Murray stresses the importance of getting the strategy right that will enable him to perform at his best in each event. “From the end of May through until the end of August/early September is going to be a pretty intense stretch,” he says. “There’s going to be a lot of big tournaments and not much time off in between. But there’s enough time off that you have to think, ‘how much am I going to rest and how

much am I going to train for the next event’. It’s about getting the balance right but it’s something that’s going to be hard for everybody.” Murray believes the addition of the Olympic tennis tournament this year, three weeks after Wimbledon finishes, has really spiced things up, taking place as it does, on the same grass courts of SW15 on which the famous English Grand Slam is held. “Normally after Wimbledon everybody goes away, takes a break and starts practicing on a hard court for the US Open. But this year after Wimbledon finishes, what are guys going to do? Take a break then start practicing on grass for the Olympics or are they going to get some hard court practice too? After the Olympics finishes on the Saturday there’s a hard court tournament starting in Toronto on the Tuesday so there’s no time to adjust to the different surface. The US Open will only be a few weeks away so guys will be going into it having not played on hard court since around March time, which is quite a long period for us. “When the Olympics came around last time, it was on a hard court so it made it much easier. Because it’s on grass this time it’s very different. We’ve got a plan of what we’re going to do, where we’re going to train and how we’re going to get ready for each event. “But things can change pretty quickly in tennis because you never know how you’re going to get on in each tournament so it’s going to be quite interesting.” Murray has long been regarded as one of the most technically gifted and tactically intelligent players on the ATP Tour as well as one of the best counter-attacking players in the game. With 22 titles to his name, his ability to win tournaments

“The game over the past few years has got so physically demanding. If you’re not in good shape you really can’t be at the top of the game so that’s something you need to work on a lot. It’s something that I think has definitely changed even since I joined the Tour and it was something that I probably struggled with early on but now I feel a lot more comfortable that, even if I’m behind in a match, I can still come back.

has never been in doubt and outside of the Grand Slams he’s got a great record against each of the top three players in the world – Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. But in years gone by he often struggled against the top guys when it came to the Majors. Some might say it is unfortunate that Murray is playing the game in an era where Federer and Nadal, and now Djokovic – three of the greatest players of all time – have raised the bar and changed tennis so significantly. In any other era he would surely have made his Major breakthrough already. But there’s now a far greater emphasis on power, strength and stamina than in years gone by and if you’re lacking anything physically, you’ll get caught out against these monsters when it comes to the potential five-set slugfest of a Grand Slam.

BIGGEST TOURNAMENTS Murray made the decision a few years ago to rebuild his physique so that it could withstand the demands of the world’s biggest tournaments and his hard work looks to be paying dividends. Since reaching his first Grand Slam final in 2008, when he was beaten in straight sets by Roger Federer at the US Open, he’s reached at least the last four of eight Majors and was a finalist at the Australian Open in both 2010 and 2011. With each passing Slam he looks more comfortable and more capable of taking the final step up to victory as he showed when he matched old friend Djokovic, winner of four of the last five Majors, blow for blow in Melbourne in January, displaying a more powerful and aggressive approach than ever before. “I think physically at the start of my career I struggled against the big guys,” says Andy. “The game over the past few years has got so physically demanding. If you’re not in good shape you really can’t be at the top of the game so that’s something you need to work on a lot. It’s something that I think has definitely changed, even since I joined the Tour, and it was something that I probably struggled with early on. But now I feel a lot more comfortable that, even if I’m behind in a match, I can still come back. “A five set match has a lot of ups and downs. If you get off to a great start it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to go on and win the match. Whereas, in the best of three set matches on the Tour, you can start well, go a break up and the match can be over in an hour and ten/hour and 15 minutes. But now, to win against the top players in the Grand Slams, the matches are lasting about 5-6 hours. It’s a very long time so you need to make sure that you’re prepared for that.” Murray has tackled the physical challenge by



embarking on annual ultra-intensive winter training camps in Miami to ensure that he’s in prime condition for when the Tour gets underway in January. “For the past three years the physical aspect is something that I’ve concentrated a lot on,” he says. “Again, it’s about striking the balance between playing enough tennis but also spending enough time in the gym building your legs and your stamina up with running, biking and all sorts of stuff. It’s about making sure you do all of those things properly because, if you do, you can win matches even if you’re not playing well just based on being fitter than the guy you’re playing against. Equally, you can lose matches, even if you’re playing well, if you’re not fit because you get tired. So it’s a very important part of the game. “It’s very hot and humid in Miami so the conditions compare with those in the Grand Slams and it’s a great place to train. Australia can get very, very hot but it’s not as humid as it is in Miami; the US Open is the only other one that can get very hot whereas at Wimbledon and the French Open it’s not so bad. As long as you’re training in conditions that are as tough or tougher than where you’re going to be playing it makes the matches feel much easier.”

GYM WORK Murray goes about his training in an extremely regimented manner that would be more commonly associated with an Olympic athlete than a tennis player. “I think you need to be (regimented),” he says. “If you get up early you can fit quite a lot into a day. Whereas if you’re lying in, starting late and just sort of dozing around and not really taking it seriously or following a plan you can miss out on things and it just doesn’t work as well. I’ve tried over the last few years to get better at that – to plan things out in advance, make sure I’m getting up at the right time, eating at the right time and making sure I fit all of the work that I need to do in.” As well as gym work, cycling, running and tennis practice, Murray also tries to make sure he follows a diet that will best complement his training. “It’s another thing that I’ve tried to improve on over the last year,” he says. “I do food intolerance tests. I have blood tests every five or six months and we change my diet according to what the results are. I don’t follow any particular diet like gluten free, no carbs, high protein or anything like that. It’s just based on what I can and can’t eat. I try to have a balanced diet – I wouldn’t have chicken four or five days in a row, or fish four or five days in a row – I try and have steak one night, chicken one night, fish one night and just try to mix it up a bit.” Murray’s performances in all four of the Grand Slams last year have given him the belief that he now has the game and physical makeup to win on any surface, unlike earlier in his career when the hard courts of the US and Australian Opens, and to a lesser extent the grass of Wimbledon, looked more suited to

Andy has enlisted eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl in his bid for Major glory this year.

his big serving, counter-attacking style. “Up until last year clay would have been the surface that I’d have been most worried about, but I had a good run on the clay last year,” says Murray, who reached the semi-finals in three of his four outings on the surface last year including his French Open defeat by clay king Nadal, which occurred while he was carrying an ankle injury. “I only play around four tournaments on clay all year so it takes me a bit of time to adjust to the conditions. But providing I practice properly I should be OK. For instance, after the Barcelona Open I stayed on in Spain to practice rather than going back to the UK where I can’t really practice on clay. Things like that are going to help me and hopefully give me the best chance at Roland Garros.” The Scotsman recently enlisted eight-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 Ivan Lendl as his coach in his bid to capture one of tennis’s Big Four events and despite the partnership still being in its infancy Murray believes it’s already getting results. “We’ve only been working together a few months and during that time you’re also playing competitions so you’re not working on too much whilst you’re playing tournaments,” he says. “But we spent three or four weeks actually training together and it’s been good. There are things he picks up in matches that I need to work on and then also just things on a day to day basis – your training or the way you’re preparing for a Grand Slam or a big match. Technically he’s also very good and you would expect that – he won over

1,000 matches in his career, so he understands how to win.” When Murray walked onto the court at the Monte Carlo Masters sporting a new Lendl-like super-short haircut, many believed it was a move instigated by his new coach to make him look and feel more aggressive during play but sadly, it was a good old case of reporters not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. “No, that wasn’t the case,” smiles Andy. “Normally I always cut my own hair but in Monte Carlo the razor that I used wasn’t my own personal one, it was my fitness trainer’s which happened to have a blade that was much tighter than the one I usually use! It’s grown back a bit now but there was nothing behind it – it wasn’t an intimidation thing!”

SCARY HAIR Scary hair or not, there’s no doubting that Murray is primed like never before for a tilt at Major success. Following the French Open he’ll begin his preparations for Wimbledon when the British nation will once again work itself into a frenzy in its eagerness to see a British man crowned as a Grand Slam champion for the first time since Fred Perry won the US Open in 1936. But, like Tim Henman before him, Murray is well used to the added pressure of performing on home soil and believes it actually gives him an advantage over his rivals. “At the start of my career it was quite challenging but now it’s not really something that I worry about too much,” he says. “I think it’s something that people exaggerate a lot as well because in every sport, everybody pretty much agrees that home advantage is a huge asset. In football, basketball, hockey, American football – the teams always play 4

The Scotsman’s mother Judy (pictured middle supporting Andy at Wimbledon) has been a guiding force throughout his career.

better at home than they do away. If you look at Tim Henman’s results – his game was suited to grass – but if you look at his results at Wimbledon and compare them to his results in other Grand Slams, he was just so consistent at Wimbledon. It actually helps having that support once you get onto the court – it’s more the build up that can be quite tiring. Providing you plan that out well and you don’t get bogged down by doing extra stuff, it’s an asset.” Murray will again have the home advantage when he lines up for the Olympic Games tennis tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis Club on July 28 and after his experience four years ago in Beijing, where he suffered a humiliating first round exit at the hands of Taipei’s Lu Yen-Hsun, he’s determined to give a good account of himself this time around in an event he considers the best of the lot. “I’m going to try my best to do that (make up for Beijing),” he says. “The last time I went to the Olympics it was one of the best experiences of my life – as a sportsperson but also as a sports fan. I was just disappointed with the way I prepared for it. It’s different in tennis, I was playing a tournament in Cincinnati four or five days before the Olympics started in Beijing. “Whereas with the track and field athletes it’s four years in preparation – I went into it a bit under-prepared and I was so disappointed with myself. This year I want to make sure that the period between Wimbledon and the Olympics is done properly and I’m as best prepared as possible because for me it’s the biggest sporting event by a mile. “Being on home soil and also with it being played at Wimbledon it’s going to be extra special. Seeing everyone on court but not playing in all-white – they’ve lifted that rule from the club for the Olympics – it should be great.” When tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988 after a 64-year break it was an event that many of the game’s biggest players chose not compete in, interfering as it does with the Grand Slam schedule, but things couldn’t be more different now according to Murray. “When it first started not everyone was playing

but now no-one wants to miss it,” he says. “It’s a huge competition. Any tournament is judged by the quality of the competitors so if everyone’s playing that tends to show how important it is. “Just being around the team and the other athletes sets it apart. I guess for track and field athletes they’re always around people from other sports whereas as tennis players we pretty much spend all of our time amongst each other so it’s nice to be able to be part of a team and be part of something other than just a tennis tournament. Getting to watch some of the other athletes preparing for their events but also playing for them as teammates, it’s just a bit different.” With mixed doubles being included in the schedule for the first time this year there is a possibility that Andy could be playing for three medals at London 2012 and, although it’s not yet certain which events, other than the singles, he’ll compete in, it would appear highly likely that he’ll line up alongside older brother Jamie in the doubles. However, he doesn’t believe his own status or the sentiment of family ties should be a factor in who is selected. “I don’t know (which events I’ll play) yet,” he says. “I’ll definitely play two but I don’t know which ones yet or who I’ll be playing with. I don’t know if I’ll be playing all three – it’s going to be quite tough and also they need to pick the players who have the best chance of winning medals. If that means me playing one event or three events, I’ll do it.” Andy Murray has come a long way from the quiet streets of Dunblane in Scotland, where he grew up being guided through the ranks under the watchful eye of mother Judy, herself a former professional player and now a renowned coach. His achievements have made him Britain’s most successful tennis player of the modern era but he won’t happy until he’s put his name on one of the game’s biggest trophies. They say good fortune comes at the crossroad where preparation and opportunity meet. Murray is now standing at that crossroad – he’s fully prepared for Major glory and ready to do the business over the next three months. n

andy murray


Pictures by: Joerg Mitter, Balazs Gardi, Predrag Vuckovic, Jorge Ferrari

High Rise Adrenaline



Dubai Motocross fans were given a treat when the X-Fighters rode into town with Levi Sherwood coming out on top after a thrilling performance.

Australia’s Josh Sheehan performed a dazzling show jump in front of the 828-meter high Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building, to kick off the new season for the Red Bull XFighters World Tour.

NEW Zealand’s Levi Sherwood won the 2012 season opener of the $1 million X-Fighters World Tour with a brilliant performance in front of 20,000 spectators on a stunning dirt track set up on the white sands of Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach between the city’s glittering skyscrapers and the Gulf’s turquoise water. Kicking off the six-month long season with its six stops on four continents, Dubai gave Sherwood his fourth career victory and first since triumphing in London in 2010. Australia’s Rob Adelberg was a surprise second while Javier Villegas of Chile got his first podium with a third place finish. It was a night filled with upsets as defending World Tour champion Dany Torres of Spain and Norway’s Andre Villa, a leading title contender, were both knocked out in the quarter-finals, finishing eighth and fifth, respectively. Villa had earlier wept with tears of joy after taking second in Qualifying, overcome with emotion that he was able to ride well again after suffering a leg injury last season. Sherwood was clearly on top of his game in the sweltering heat of Dubai, able to once again display his incomparable flexible and fluid style in the world’s most prestigious freestyle motocross competition that will have a total purse of $1 million based on performances and appearance fees. “It means a lot,” said a beaming Sherwood, 20, after celebrating with the spirited crowd that savored the spectacle with riders jumping up to 12 meters high and 20 meters in distance on their bikes. “I didn’t have much confidence coming into it,” added the friendly kiwi. Villegas was thrilled to get the first podium. “After years of sacrifice, I finally made it,” he said. “I’m not going to stop here. I want to be on the podium all season.” Red Bull X-Fighters has become the biggest and most respected freestyle motocross tour on the planet since it was created in 2001 with the best FMX riders anywhere battling for championship points at six stops on four continents.

Results: 1. Levi Sherwood (NZL), 2. Rob Adelberg (AUS), 3. Javier Villegas (CHL), 4. Josh Sheehan (AUS), 5. Andre Villa (NOR), 6. Todd Potter (USA), 7. Edgar Torronteras (ESP), 8. Dany Torres (ESP), 9. Mat Rebeaud (SUI), 10. Eigo Sato (JPN).

High Rise Adrenaline



Defending champion Dany Torres of Spain rode his bike on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab prior to the X-Fighters event.

Pictures by: Joerg Mitter, Balazs Gardi, Predrag Vuckovic, Jorge Ferrari

High Rise Adrenaline


BEHIND THE STARS In the second installment of our ‘Behind the Stars’ feature we talk to Olympic Swimming Coach Rohan Taylor. The Australian has coached many an Olympic medallist throughout his career, including Leisel Jones, who won Gold in the 100m breaststroke in Beijing four years ago, and is current coach to British hopefuls Ellen Gandy and Kate Haywood.

BEHIND THE STARS SFME: What is your background and how did you get into coaching? RT: I was born in Australia but grew up mostly in the USA. I started swimming when I was 8 and competed at a National Level in California. In 1985 I went to the Australian Institute of Sport on a 12-month scholarship and I then attended the University of Las Vega, Nevada on a swimming scholarship and transferred to California State University Northridge to continue swimming. My coaching started when Dave Salo at Irvine Novaquatics offered me casual coaching just after University, I took the role as a job while I decided what I was going to do. I loved coaching and never looked back. To find a way to do this for a living I decided to move back to Australia in 1994 to start a swim school and develop athletes to the highest level – this was my goal. I founded the Rohan Taylor Swim School in 1995 and by 1996 had 500+ children in my ‘Learn to Swim’ programme and 100+ in my squads programme. From there I have been holistically involved in running a Learn to Swim business and overseeing coaching and performance squads. I currently work as the High Performance Coach for Nunawading Swimming Club in Melbourne and my wife is part owner of a swim school in Melbourne. SFME: What has been your involvement over the years with the National Team(s) in Australia? Throughout your career you seem to have had a lot of different roles at different organisations – is it a difficult juggling act? RT: My first National Team was the 1999 World Short Course in Hong Kong, I have been Head Coach of the Oceania Team in 2000, a number of World Cups and a team coach on the 2005 World Championships, the 2006 Pan Pacifics, 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 Worlds, 2010 Pan Pacifics, 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2011 World Champs. My additional roles within Swimming have been with the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ascta), I have been a director since 1997 and served as President from 2005 to 2010. This role has seen me involved with Swimming Australia on the High Performance Committee as a member looking at all areas of HP and reporting back to the SAL and ascta boards. I have found that being involved in all of these areas is very rewarding and provides plenty of motivation to work towards making The Australian Swimming landscape better. SFME: Who has been/is the best swimmer you’ve coached? RT: Leisel Jones. SFME: You coach British hopefuls Ellen Gandy

Leisel Jones

into the competition, we look at the total volume, number of sessions and load (intensity) of sessions and modify that to ensure the athletes do not become fatigued going into the meet. The aim is to sharpen their skills and speed with a peak on the day of the targeted competition.

Leisel Jones

and Kate Heywood at the Nunawading Swimming Club in Melbourne, how often do they train with you and what goes into a typical coaching session with these Olympians? RT: They do 8-10 swim sessions in the pool each week which vary in length between 1.5 hours – 2 hours. In addition they do 3-5 gym and dry land sessions a week. All of their sessions are with the Nunawading Squad or the Victorian Institute of Sport Support Staff (strength and conditioning) and I attend them all and run all the swim sessions. The main emphasis of their training is on improving efficiency in the water, swimming as specific to their event as possible and working on strength and functionality in the gym and dry land sessions. SFME: Explain how the structure of training goes in the lead up to a big event like the Olympics and what ‘tapering’ is? RT: I tend not to use the term ‘taper’, my term is ‘fine tuning’. This takes place the 3-5 weeks leading

SFME: What sort of work should swimmers do in the gym to prepare for competitive swimming? RT: Olympic lifting, trunk work (functional core work) and running and cycling to build endurance. SFME: What about nutrition – what sort of diet should people who want to progress in swimming be following? RT: It’s all about fuelling the body with what is required before, during and after the session for preparation, performance and recovery. The type of session determines the type of food and fluid taken on. Each athlete has access to a sports dietician to work out their individual needs. SFME: How well have preparations gone for the British pair ahead of London 2012 and how confident are you that they can take home a medal each? RT: Both Ellen and Kate are back into full training and look fit and healthy which leads to the ability to build another layer of specific conditioning and skill improvements that will lead to a peak performance. In saying that I believe that both have a lot of room to improve and that will give them the best chance of a medal in London. The one area they cannot control is their competitors so if they swim their best the rest will take care of itself.

55 SFME: Ellen admitted that she was slightly disappointed with the way she raced in the 200m when she qualified for London 2012 in March due to nerves. From your point of view how could she have done better? RT: Ellen probably allowed herself to take her mind off the process that would give her the chance to post a fast time. She went out a bit too fast and paid the price in the last 30 metres, controlling that first 100 will be important for her to bring the race home strong.

Ellen Gandy

SFME: Is there as strong a rivalry between British and Aussie swimmers as there is in topclass cricket and do you feel strange coaching Brits!? RT: There really isn’t a specific rivalry with GB – it is mostly with the USA. I don’t feel strange coaching Ellen and Kate, they are professional athletes and are a pleasure to work with. SFME: Aside from Leisel Jones’ Gold Medal in Beijing in 2008, what were the other highlights for you at the Olympic games? RT: My highlights from 2008 were the 4x200 relay, I was looking after two of the girls who swam in the final so that was a buzz. Generally it was being a part of the event and getting to watch the best go for it. SFME: What kind of advice do you give your swimmers on the day of their races – be it a qualifying heat or a major Olympic Final – to ensure they get the best out of themselves when it counts? RT: Their training is all about preparing for the progression from heats to semis to finals and in that is the process of the race, I just remind them of this and keep it simple. They need to own the race. SFME: Ellen has talked about working on the mental aspect so as not to ‘burn out’ before a competition. Along with the physical aspect of swimming, how can the mental side be improved and what practises do you implement in order to help swimmers with this? RT: I really push the outside development for each athlete in that they should have a balanced life, give them space to do something else that supports swimming by giving them an outlet. This allows them to rest up and come back with more energy and focus. SFME: Of all the swimmers you’ve coached, whose achievements are you most proud of? RT: Sarah Katsoulis who I’ve coached since she was 12 till now. She’s 27 and I have worked with her through her first national age group medal,

Ellen Gandy World Short Course Medallist, Commonwealth Games Medallist, Pan Pac Medallist and World Championship Medallist. She’s the current Australian and Commonwealth Record holder for the 50m breaststroke, the second fastest Australian of all time in the 100 and 200m breaststroke but she’s never made the Olympic Team as she finished third in the 2004 and 2008 trials! She’s one of the most consistent female breaststrokers behind Leisel. What I am most proud of with Sarah is that she completed a University Degree and is currently engaged to be married. She’s a great person.

SFME: What are the most enjoyable aspects to the various coaching roles you have and are there any elements you dislike? RT: I like making a difference and helping someone achieve their goals, working out the pathway and challenging them to take the steps to improve. Meeting so many good people who are willing to work hard for a result that only lasts for a brief moment. What I dislike is seeing talent not reaching its full potential because of someone not willing to do the work required. SFME: What is it about swimming that makes it such a good form of recreational exercise? RT: It’s non impact on the body and it provides good cardio conditioning. It’s one of the best allround exercises you can do. SFME: What are the benefits of regular swimming? RT: It helps not only in building fitness for health and wellbeing but it is perfect for recovery from a long day, the increase in blood flow will ensure that muscles receive oxygen for repair. n

Along with Aussie superstar Leisel Jones how many other Olympic medalists have you coached and what are their key achievements? Shane Reese: 2004 Athens Olympics 4x200 relay swimming, 2008 Beijing Heat Swimmer 4x100 free and 4x100 medley, 2005, 2007 World Champion 4x100 free relay. Danni Miatke:

2005 World Champion 50 fly, 2007 silver medal 50 fly.

Sarah Katsoulis: 2009 Bronze Medal 50 breaststroke. Michael Klim:

Comeback attempt 2010 – 2012.

Ellen Gandy:

2008 and 2012 Olympian, 2011 Silver medal 200 fly World Championships.

Kate Haywood: 2012 Olympian.









No pain, plenty of gain… Go swimming. Swimming can be a great way of keeping fit and doesn’t pose the same risk to your joints and bones as some high impact sports can, as Hisem Hagras explains… Q: The summer Olympics are coming soon and there is an exercise vibe in the air. I often hear that swimming is really good for your body and a great way to achieve fitness goals. How true is that? A: Swimming is a good fitness choice for just about everyone, especially those who have physical limitations or who find other forms of exercise painful. It is a good, whole-body exercise that has low impact for people with arthritis, musculoskeletal or weight limitations. The impact of land exercise can lead to stiff joints while fragile bones are at risk of injury. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest,

its 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%. Athletes use water to rehabilitate after injury or to cross-train. People with arthritis or other disabilities use water to improve fitness and range of motion and to relieve pain and stiffness. Not only is swimming easy on the body, it’s a great way to get fit. Q: What are the fitness benefits of swimming? A: Swimming recruits all the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. And because water affords 12 times the resistance of air in every direction, it really helps to build strength. It is cardiovascular and strengthening at the same time and not many workouts have that. Q: Can swimming help you lose weight? A: While research has shown that other forms of exercise can be more beneficial for weight loss swimming is nonetheless effective if you follow the same principles as with any other exercise and challenge yourself.

A: How do I get started? If you’re ready to get started, experts recommend getting a swim coach or joining a swimming group (you can register for the Fitness First Swim Academy at Getting the rhythm of the strokes and the breath can be overwhelming at first. Coaches break it down and take you there slowly, practicing one part at a time. If you’re a beginner, start slowly. Try to swim for 10 minutes. Build up to a 30-minute workout, three to five times a week. Include a warm-up and a cool-down, and, in the middle, challenge yourself by working on endurance, stroke efficiency, or speed. There’s more than one way to tackle swimming. Before you feel comfortable putting your face in the water, you can practice drills with a kickboard, or even walk the length of the pool. Q: What about all the necessary gear required? A: A comfortable swimsuit and a pair of goggles are all you need to start.You don’t even need the goggles until you’re ready to put your face in the water. Once you get your earplugs in and your swim cap on and you begin to swim, it’s just you and the water – all the stress of everyday life just fades away, making swimming a great form of relaxation as well as exercise.







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SMOOTHIES are a great way of fueling your body for a workout, providing the perfect blend of protein, carbs and vitamins which are absorbed quickly without leaving you feeling bloated. Naveen Bahri, Brand Manager of the Core Juice Bar, has provided this recipe for the perfect pre-workout smoothie. You will need: 100 gms low fat yogurt or Greek Yogurt 120 ml 1% milk or skimmed milk 2 teaspoons peanut butter smooth 1 medium banana 60 gms frozen unsweetened strawberries I scoop whey-protein powder 4 ice cubes, crushed Directions: Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend for 30 seconds – 1 minute until a smooth consistency. Why is this ideal pre-workout? This smoothie is great for pre-workout as it gives you the carbs from the banana to push yourself further while the protein helps muscle growth and fights fatigue. Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt and is now used more in smoothies as it gives it a more creamy texture while peanut butter is a great powerfood when used in moderation – full of protein and monounsaturated ‘good’ fat, helping to build muscle and burn fat. The Strawberries are rich in antioxidants and rich in Vitamin C.



get ready for Ramadan Wellness THE period of Ramadan poses an added challenge in maintaining your fitness goals but staying on track is easily achievable with a little planning. Follow the SFME guide to training during Ramadan and you won’t go wrong.

Q: Can I exercise during Ramadan? A: Yes – absolutely. Ramadan is an ideal time to start an exercise regime. Having said that it is critical that you exercise in moderation. Q: Is the club open at different times during Ramadan? A: Yes, we have Ramadan Operational hours of 6.00am – 12.00pm Sunday -Thursday and 7.00am – 9.00pm on Fridays. Q: What are the best foods to eat to maintain my energy levels? A: The best foods to eat to maintain your energy levels are foods with a low Glycaemic Index (GI). These foods release energy slowly and therefore keep you fuller for longer. For example, oats, beans, lentils, rice, whole wheat, vegetables and dried fruit. Q: What time should I exercise in Ramadan? A: Give yourself an hour between your last meal/snack before you plan to do exercise. If you exercise before you break your fast only do a moderate exercise routine.

USE RAMADAN TO KICKSTART YOUR TRAINING n Ramadan is actually the best time to lose weight and start getting fit but it is critical that you ease yourself into the exercise regime. We always advise our members to start off the exercise at least two weeks prior to Ramadan. n If you start your fasting and your exercise all on day one of Ramadan you may find it too much to cope with if you lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle and will be much more likely to fall off the wagon. Be kind to yourself and your body. n If you are a heavy smoker and a coffee or tea addict, then start to ease off one cup and one cigarette a day. Start off your exercise routine with 30 minutes in the first week and build up to 45 minutes in the second week. n Another critical point to remember is that whilst working out, moderation is the key. Do not try and achieve all the results in one week. Pace yourself and, of course, remember to take a healthy drink with you to the gym. n Speak to our instructors who will give you more expert advice on exercise programmes to use during Ramadan.

Q: What is the most important thing to remember while exercising? A: Keep hydrated. When fasting all day it is important to re-hydrate yourself at Iftar by drinking as much water and freshly squeezed juices as possible so that your body can adjust fluid levels. Take an electrolyte drink with you while you workout.

Ramadan is also a great opportunity to try one of many GX classes. Yoga: If you’re looking for a great workout option this Ramadan, consider the ancient art of yoga. Unlike other forms of exercise, yoga actually restores your energy and vigor while at the same time keeping you fit and healthy. Instead of feeling drained after a yoga session, participants feel energised but calm and ready for anything.

Remember, stay healthy and well during Ramadan. Speak to one of Fitness First’s instructors for more expert advice.

Pilates: Pilates is an ideal gentle exercise class to take regularly during Ramadan. A safe and sensible exercise system using a floor mat that will help you look and feel your best. Pilates improves core strength, flexibility and agility.

Ramadan Kareem

BodyBalance: This yoga, tai chi, Pilates workout that builds flexibility and strength and leaves you feeling centred and calm will be highly beneficial to your relaxation during the Ramadan period.

Eat healthy during the Holy Month of Ramadan

During Ramadan, our diets change. Our food intake happens in the mornings and evenings, with nothing in between. During this month, our diets should be as simple as possible. For those of us who want to lose weight, there is no better time to drop those pounds.


Say to: n Complex carbohydrates with low GI (glycemic index) at Iftar and Suhoor. These are foods that get digested slowly, making you less hungry, while providing a constant level of energy. Some examples: grains, seeds, barley, wheat, oats, semolina, beans, lentils and rice. n Dates. They are an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium. Four to six dates each day are ideal. n Almonds. They’re rich in protein and fibre, with less fat. Eat a small handful at Suhoor. n Bananas. They’re a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates, and keep energy levels up. n Balanced meals. Incorporate foods from each food group, such as fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. n Smaller meals. Try shifting your regular routine of five meals a day from daytime to night time. n Suhoor. Never miss your morning meal. n More fluids. Drink plenty of water and fresh fruit juices between Iftaar and Suhoor so that your body can maintain its fluid levels. n Fruits before meals. This helps you get your required intake of vitamins and minerals.







The key to staying healthy: eat as much as you would on any normal day while including foods with higher fibre content to provide fuel for most of your day, and plenty of liquids to stay hydrated for as long as possible. And of course, avoid oily, fatty, fried foods and sugary sweets. Follow all these tips, and you’re certain to have a healthy Ramadan.

Ramadan Recipe Ideas Ramadan Date Bars Keep these handy for when the energy levels are sagging. Especially before a workout these bars will provide the boost of complex carbs your body will require prior to the exertion. You can experiment by adding different nuts and seeds to get your Omegas in between Iftaar and Suhoor. Ingredients • 100 g low fat butter or margarine, softened • 1 cup brown sugar or half a cup of honey • 1 egg • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence • 1 cup self-raising flour • 1 cup roughly chopped dates • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) Directions • Preheat oven to 350 F. • Cream the butter and sugar together. • Beat in the egg and vanilla essence. • Fold in the flour, mix well. • Add in chopped dates and walnuts. • Baked in a greased 9x13 pan for 20 - 25 minutes • Cut into bars or squares when cooled and store in airtight box Armed with these recipes and tips, get out there and get prepared for this month of spiritual and physical cleansing!! Ramadan Kareem!!

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup


Say to: n Fried and fatty foods. These contain very little nutrition and are high in cholesterol and saturated fats, which boost blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease. n Foods containing too much sugar. n Over-eating, especially at Suhoor. n Too much tea at Suhoor: Tea makes you pass more urine, taking with it valuable minerals and salts that your body would need during the day. Water is best. n Skipping meals. n Smoking. If you cannot give up smoking, start cutting down gradually a few weeks before Ramadan begins

This healthy soup is enjoyed throughout the Middle East, and although simple in preparation and ingredients, is a soup full of flavour. Lentils are considered a main dish because they are so filling, and the soup is usually eaten with pita bread and lemon on the side. You may need to adjust water and ingredients as well as cooking time, depending on the size of your lentils. You may add veggies such as diced carrots, celery etc, but this is how it is enjoyed traditionally across the Middle East. It’s great during Ramadan as it provides the proteins and carbs required to keep the energy levels going by replenishing the body with important nutrients. Ingredients • 8 cups water • 1 1/2 cups small red lentils • 3 Maggi chicken cubes • 1/2 cup finely diced onion • 1 garlic clove (grated) • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh parsley • 3/4 teaspoon cumin • 1/2-1 teaspoon turmeric Directions • Wash and drain lentils. • Using a large pot, combine all the ingredients. • Bring to the boil, then let simmer on medium/low for about 35minutes. • Make sure to stir occasionally to avoid the lentils burning or sticking to the pot. • Serve with lemon wedges, on the side.



ENJOY swing Yoga

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FITNESS First Middle East has launched an exciting new form of yoga which has been taking the world by storm. Swing Yoga is all the rage in Europe, America and Asia and Fitness First members can try it out in the new Motor City club and the soon-to-open Beach Park Plaza club. SWING Yoga uses a piece of equipment called the ‘yoga swing’ which makes it much easier to get in and out of poses, especially those which require you to be upside down, allowing much more freedom of movement and providing a unique way to tone and stretch the body. The swing, made by industry pioneers Gravotonics, is created from a comfortable nylon parachute with three handles at varying heights, making it possible to achieve almost any conceivable posture, angle, movement, stretch or exercise. Hanging upside down can alleviate muscular tension and pain as well as promoting increased joint mobility and flexibility, energy levels and circulation of the blood. All of these in turn promote good health and wellbeing whist SwingYoga is also great fun at the same time.

“We’re very excited to be bringing the Yoga Swing to Dubai and hopefully throughout the Middle East,” says Gravotonics founder Kerrie Neal. “Fitness First members will find that the Yoga Swing takes their yoga practice to a new level. The unique design allows you to move into a range of yoga positions both in the horizontal and vertical planes. “The muscles of the body, the skeletal structure, brain function and the internal organs all benefit from the use of the Yoga Swing. “Through use of the Yoga Swing in the classical poses as set by Patanjali, it will enable users to unlock areas of their practice, strengthen and most importantly realign. “Yoga practice can take on a new depth with the Yoga Swing as a support and open it to a new deeper experience within Asanas with its use.”



THE four-day yoga retreat in Goa for Fitness First’s UAE-based members, featuring rejuvenating sessions on Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation, was a fun excursion which is likely to be repeated in the near future. Twenty-one members from the huge network Fitness First clubs in the UAE enrolled for the off-site programme. Flying out on February 29 from Dubai, the participants converged at the Shushumna Yoga Retreat in Goa from March 1-4. The programme, which catered for varying fitness levels with beginners, intermediate and advanced categories, included a three-day itinerary of therapeutic sessions including yoga and ayruvedic massages. Fitness First members rounded off their stay in Goa with a visit to the beaches and flea markets on the final day. Fitness First Yoga Manager, Peewee Sanchez, said: “As a yoga practitioner for more than 20 years and a Yoga Master for more than 10 years, I can easily say that learning to breathe properly has a





UAE Club Members travel to Yoga Retreat in Goa profound effect on an individual’s health. Keeping this principle in mind, we created a programme that allows participants to acquire guided breathing techniques that they can adopt as a way of life. “Judging by the phenomenal success of the Goa initiative, Fitness First aims to continue hosting customised classes and retreats to help individuals stay healthy in mind and body.” Fitness First’s fun-weekend concluded with a group lunch on the beach where they shared stories of their yoga journey and the benefits it has made to their lives. They had a great time and really valued the chance to practice yoga with a group of like-minded people in beautiful surroundings where the practice of yoga began thousands of years ago.

66 Fitness First Member Testimonial

Adam D’Ambrosio Dubai Festival City member since September 2011


“I’ve been training at Fitness First Festival City for just under six months with Chris Lim, during which time I’ve lost an incredible 20kgs. Chris keeps training interesting and fun with varied workouts such as weight training, boxing, resistance and cardio. His nutritional advice has not only helped me lose weight but keep it off. I’ve joined many gyms during my lifetime but never saw real results as I didn’t have the motivation or knowledge to achieve them. With Personal Training, I have Chris to keep me motivated and teach me the right way to exercise and stay fit...and the results have been amazing. Now I look forward to going to the gym. I can’t thank Chris enough for everything he has done for me. “The only negative is the money I’ve had to spend on new clothes!”

Chris Lim, Fitness First Personal Trainer: When Adam started he was new in Dubai, new to the gym and had bad eating habits including eating fast food and eating late at night. The first step was to reduce the junk food and lower the amount of carbohydrates he was eating, especially the late night ones. I began by giving Adam a low intensity Cardio workout with an introduction to weight training, focusing on endurance and conditioning his body. We would train three times a week together, working the full body with resistance and free weights, concentrating on compound exercises. Full body workout - 3 sets of 15 reps Bench press Lat Pulldown Leg Press Incline Chest press Bent Over Rows Shoulder Press Bicep Curls Tricep Extension Leg Curl Abs (eg - Crunches, Leg raises) After this workout out, he would walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. In addition to this, on the days he did not workout with me, he would do cardio work on his own in gym.

After two months, we increased his workout to four times a week and also raised the intensity. Split Workout - 3 sets of 15 Chest and Biceps Back and Triceps Shoulders and Traps Legs We increased the weights after every two weeks and moved to two days a week of cardio instead of three ensuring he was using a variety of machines. To ensure Adam did not get bored with his training, I recently changed his workout to being more functional, using TRX, ViPR’s, boxing pad work and circuit training.





Diving Tragedy Leads to Unlikely Friendship



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One Woman’s Determination to Overcome the Aftermath of a Gas Embolism (Stroke Injury) WHEN 57-year-old UK National British Sub Aqua Club Dive Leader Marion Wagg headed for a dive off the west coast of Dubai last August there was no warning of the events that unfolded. Marion, with more than 20 years experience diving, encountered some issues during the dive that her body could not deal with. Gas bubbles in a blood vessel – similar to a blood clot – in Marion’s brain led to her suffering a stroke-like injury that left her significantly debilitated. “The Dive followed a sensible profile and good practice, but occasionally some divers get injured, even though they have not broken any rules – it was just bad luck,” she explains. The brain injury she suffered from the dive affected her eyesight, balance, coordination and memory. She has trouble walking up and down stairs and on uneven surfaces, although her legs are in good condition – she can walk four or five kilometres at a stretch. She still experiences weakness on the left side of her body, particularly her left arm and although she can use her right arm, it is still quite weak. This is not a tale of tragedy however, but a story of how one woman’s journey to empower herself once again has led to an inspiring – if unusua – relationship between her and Fitness First. It is a lesson in how corporate social responsibility can truly transform and positively impact people’s lives. Getting back in shape has been a constant struggle for Marion, who is a trained diving instructor with around 2,000 dives under her belt, and has instructed several hundred students. She found a perfect and unlikely training partner in Fitness First. “Most of my symptoms are improving slowly and steadily, but I need to work harder,” says Marion, who was also an avid swimmer and snorkeler before the accident. After learning of Marion’s accident and subsequent day-to-day difficulties, Dusko Skecik at Fitness First’s DIFC Club wanted to see

“Unfortunately due to additional how the health club could help and “The marriage problems with arms (frozen play an active role in her recovery. between shoulders) I have not yet been “The marriage between Marion’s Marion’s rehabilitation needs, and Fitness rehabilitation able to obtain full utilisation of the cross-trainer,” she says. First’s wealth of expertise in helping needs, and George Flooks adds:“More injured athletes and active people Fitness First’s than the equipment and the back to their former peak, is a wealth of fitness advice that we give, it’s compelling story. expertise in “It goes to show that ours is much helping injured absolutely mind-blowing how dogged persistence on both ours more than a gym but a complete athletes and and Marion’s part has helped her health and wellbeing environment active people discover abilities she perhaps that enriches people’s lives,” says back to their thought she never had in both George Flooks, COO, Fitness First. former peak, Realising that it would be difficult is a compelling mind and body.” “I don’t know how I got this far for Marion to regularly visit the story.” into my recovery,” says Marion, “but health club, Fitness First took the I know it would have been that unusual step of bringing all the much harder without the love and equipment she would need in her support of my friends and family rehabilitation to her, free of charge. during this difficult period. I can gladly say that Fitness First did not, however, leave Marion to people like Dusko along with the equipment her own devices. provided by Fitness First has improved my The health club’s top fitness experts have quality of life.” been there every step of the way during her Marion has now started Personal Training recovery, offering her practical tips and advice at the DIFC club with a rehabilitation qualified to help her reach her fitness goals. trainer to further add to her recovery. Marion is grateful for this act of generosity:



6-PACK ON A PLATE GETTING that perfect 6-pack isn’t just about building muscle. In fact, the more important part is stripping away fat – we’ve all got abs somewhere it’s just a matter of uncovering them. What you eat can have a dramatic impact on your body’s ability to burn fat and how you eat also plays its part.


Fat Burners

Eating less makes you lose fat

It’s a common misconception that in order to burn fat you should starve your body of calories. This can actually have the opposite effect – when your body thinks that it’s not getting enough food it goes into survival mode, slowing down your metabolism to store as much fat as possible in order to keep you alive. So your body readjusts in line with your calorie reduction and in a sense, you’re back where you started – except that you’ll find yourself hungry all the time and will eventually gorge, but now your metabolism will be slower so you’ll do even more damage and will end gaining rather than losing weight! The trick is to eat the right kinds of foods which fire your metabolism and to do so in the correct way. Your metabolism also has peaks and troughs throughout the day and to stop yourself having a metabolic dip you need to keep yourself from feeling hungry. Instead of eating three large meals, eat 5-6 smaller meals spread throughout the day, some of these may just be healthy snacks which keep you going and help you resist the urge to overeat at mealtimes.

The foods you eat should be rich in fibre and lean protein and low in saturated fat and sugar. Garlic is one of the most effective fat burning foods. It contains the element allicin which has anti bacterial effects and helps reduce cholesterol and unhealthy fats. Apples contain a great deal of pectin. A study conducted which compared people who went on a diet but ate apples to a group on the same diet that did not have apples showed that the group which did eat apples lost considerably more weight. Low Fat Dairy Products have been shown to cause the body to secrete more fat. Eating more low fat dairy products can add up to a few extra pounds of fat loss a year. Red chillies and foods containing chillies are are great fat burners. Chillies contain capsaicin which helps in increasing the metabolism. Cayenne pepper also provides a short-term metabolism boost. Celery is considered a fat burning food as it is supposed to require more energy for digestion than the calories it contains. Grapefruit is rich in pectin which breaks down fat cells. It is also rich in galacturonic acid which is a natural cholesterol and fat fighter. Cold water – A great trick is to drink your water cold. This forces the body to expand calories to heat the water you drink to body temperature, giving you a nice bonus calorie burning boost. Secret Weapon: Natural Peanut Butter Not as crazy as it sounds, yes, peanut butter is high in calories and you shouldn’t eat too much but it’s full of ‘good’ monounsaturated fats which keep your heart healthy and boost testosterone levels, leading to muscle growth and fat burning! Try a small amount on an apple or a stick or two of celery as a snack. Muscle Growth, Health and Energy Also pack your diet with beans, turkey and lean meats, green vegetables, oatmeal, wholegrains, berries and olive oil to help build muscle, stay energised throughout the day and to give your body the vitamins it needs to aid recovery after workouts and stay healthy.

Huevos Rancheros Go Mexican! Huevos Rancheros is a great breakfast dish to get your metabolism fired up and burning fat from the start of the day. Each serving contains around 21g of protein, an ideal amount for keeping you feeling full throughout the day, and also features fat burning ingredients such as chillies, garlic and pepper along with healthy beans, tomatoes, coriander and wholemeal tortillas.









Freestyle Training at

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Rather than focusing on one specific movement at a time, freestyle training gives you the freedom to mimic natural forms of movement in all directions. You can jump, leap, bend and twist your way to fitness. Freestyle helps improve mobility, flexibility, balance and strength and reduce injuries and joint pain.

TRX Suspension Training

TRX Suspension Training is a bodyweight exercise that includes a variety of multi-planar, compound exercise movements. These are done with the aim of developing strength, balance, flexibility, and joint stability simultaneously. Suspension Training can also be considered as resistance training. It is a highly effective way to work multiple muscle groups in the body and to change people’s body shape.

Bosu Balls

The bosu balls regime provides an unstable environment for performing a variety of core exercises. Instability requires your core muscles to work far harder than usual – especially compared to performing similar exercises on the floor. Bosu balls are also used as stretching aids, balance-training equipment and rehabilitation kit, and even as strength-training and plyometric training tools.

Power bags

(ViPR) Vitality, Performance and Reconditioning

ViPR integrates seamlessly into any fitness programme such as group exercise and sport-specific workouts, as well as reconditioning and personal training sessions. The revolutionary training system embodies new movements and is created to blend strength training with functional training and movement.

Power bag training is an innovative form of strength and core stability training. It shapes your legs, glutes, shoulders and triceps. Power bags are suitable for all ages, fitness levels and training goals.


Kettlebells are used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. They build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.








Nathan Brown Group GX Manager

SFME: What made you get into fitness? NB: My career started in the fitness industry almost 25 years ago in a little town called Whakatane, in New Zealand. Nothing actually got me into fitness as most kiwis are generally addicted to exercise. This starts from school and obviously my parents, who were also great athletes in their time, were very supportive to my two sisters and me as well. I was actually a chronic asthmatic at a young age and despised running which was part of the sports culture in all schools. I decided to take up a martial art that was based upon our Maori cultural philosophies, with a focus on ground wrestling, kickboxing, boxing and karate all in one. This is now commonly   known as mixed martial arts. I joined the whanau (family of fighters) called Rangataua O Aotearoa (Warriors of New Zealand) in 1983. The foundation and grounding this gave me was to help me become successful as a fitness professional years later. A few years later, my sister who was one year older than myself, died at age 20 from a severe asthmatic attack. Her death was a real wake up call for me and after achieving my Black Belt honours in 1987 I presented my belt to her and lay it on her grave. It made me realise how important exercise and good nutrition are and my asthma has never been a contributing factor for excuses any more.   SFME: Are you involved in any new innovations in the fitness industry? NB: I conceptualized and launched a programme called Futuro TUFF in October last year. It uses interval max training, meaning you work out for longer periods with less recovery time, guaranteeing that you burn 800 calories in every 45-minute class. I’m also developing some motivational fitness videos which we distribute to our members through our social media channels – Facebook and Youtube. This is the ideal way to make expert fitness advice more accessible to our members and to allow them to watch from the comfort of their own home and learn about expert tips, new training methods and advice. My aim is to inspire our members to try something new, to push their fitness goals and to feel comfortable to come into our clubs and not feel intimidated to get on new piece of equipment or try out a new GX class. SFME: What’s the No.1 thing you like about being fit? NB: Fitness is not just about a cosmetic cream, where you wipe on and then wipe off after you’ve finished. It’s about being in tune with your body which equals: PHYSICAL, MENTAL and SPIRITUAL, this allows my entire body to function to enjoy life at any given time!

Nathan is a former four-time New Zealand Kickboxing Champion who got hooked on teaching group fitness classes back in the 1990s. He’s been based in the Middle East for 11 years and is almost as passionate about motivating people to achieve their goals through fitness and diet as he is about golf…almost! Quickfire Favourite workout activity? 45 minute interval max training Favourite exercise? Futuro TUFF. Favourite time to workout? Prefer mornings. How many workouts per week? 10. Whenever I don’t workout I feel… Moody! Best body part? Legs. Greatest accomplishment? Winning my first New Zealand Kicking Boxing title in the early 90s. Guilty pleasure? Fish and chips. Favourite workout music? Anything with a motivational beat.


LADY OF IF you’re a movie lover, the chances are you’ll have come across Luci ‘Steel’ Romberg at one time or another but you wouldn’t recognize her if you walked past her on the street. That’s because Luci works as a Hollywood stuntwoman, earning a living by throwing herself off buildings or rolling under moving trucks. She’s appeared in countless films, TV shows and commercials with credits such as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Green Lantern, Zombieland and True Blood to her name. But while stunt work is a fun way to make a living Luci’s real passion lies in the burgeoning sport of freerunning – a form of acrobatics that sees athletes use the urban landscape as an obstacle course which they move their way around in as creative a manner as possible. She’s the only female member of the highly regarded Team Tempest – a freerunning group which travels the world doing film and TV work, exhibitions and competing in events. Here Luci talks exclusively to Richard Bevan about her work as a Hollywood stunt double and her love of freerunning.

SFME: Tell us how you became a stuntwoman? LR: I was a national champion gymnast in college and I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated. A good friend and teammate of mine, Natascha Hopkins, is a few years older than me and was out in LA doing stunts and acting. She came back to visit for a gymnastics meet in my senior year and pretty much convinced me to move to LA and pursue stunts so that is exactly what I did. 

SFME: Which movie stars have you doubled for? LR: There are too many to list but a few are – Lili Taylor, Abigail Breslin, Rachael Harris, Chloe Moretz, Pamela Adlon and Mary Lou Retton. SFME: Do you get a lot of work playing non specific characters who get blown up etc?  LR: It is a bit more difficult for a female my size (I’m only 5’1”) to get the non-descript roles, but I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to play myself a lot. SFME: You mentioned your height, which is fairly short in comparison to many Hollywood actresses, does this affect the stunt double work you get or is there still plenty out there? LR: It does make it a little harder being short, but I don’t harp on that. I work hard, train hard, and do the best job I can do when I get the opportunity to work.  SFME: It sounds like a great way to make a living – I imagine your day to day work is very varied? LR: There is no such thing as a typical day for me. It is cool because each day is different and exciting. I’m very fortunate to be in the position that I’m in. I owe so much to so many people. I would not have had the opportunity to work on film and TV without the help and support of my family and friends.  SFME: What’s the most challenging / dangerous stunt you’ve had to do? LR: I would have to say the most dangerous was barrel rolling with another stunt woman (Jen Caputo) under a jack-knifed semi truck that was going 30 miles per hour.  SFME: It’s a very dangerous career choice, have you always been a bit of a daredevil or a tom boy and do you ever get scared that something might go wrong? LR: I was a tom boy growing up. My parents were both collegiate tennis players and so athletics have been a huge part of my life. My parents have always been very supportive of anything my brother, sister, and I wanted to try.   I don’t consider myself a daredevil. All the stunts I do are well thought out and calculated. It doesn’t mean the things we are doing are not dangerous but if you are doing a dangerous stunt, there is always a team of experienced stunt people behind you to help keep you as safe as possible.  SFME: What are the main injuries you’ve suffered during your career and how did they occur? LR: I’ve been very fortunate thus far. The only injuries I’ve suffered on set have been bumps and bruises. I’ve been injured training (broken jaw, broken fingers, broken rib) but nothing too serious. 

SFME: It’s a very physically demanding job – what’s your training regime like? LR: It’s important to stay in shape. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to get injured. I do martial arts three times a week but 90 percent of my workouts are freerunning. I either go to the Tempest Freerunning Academy and train for several hours a day or I go outside and train freerunning around the city. To me, working out shouldn’t be a drag so I just go to the gym and play around and I get a great workout all at the same time. SFME: Do you follow any special diet?  LR: I don’t have a specific diet, but I do eat healthy. A lot of salads, grilled chicken, veggies, etc. I also don’t deprive myself either. Everything is about moderation.  SFME: Tell us about your background. You competed in gymnastics and soccer to quite a high level didn’t you – did you considering pursuing either of those as a career? LR: I loved being active from an early age and wanted to participate in every sport that I possibly could. Up until the age of 12 I competed competitively in tennis, gymnastics, soccer, softball, diving, and volleyball. As you get older and better, each sport requires more time so my mom said I had to pick. I chose soccer and gymnastics because in high school they are opposite seasons from each other. My goal for a long time was to do two sports in college and I was fortunate and worked hard enough to achieve my goal. SFME: Does the development of modern technology in the movies, CGI etc, mean that stunt doubles get less work and what does the future hold for the industry? LR: With the advancement of CGI, in my opinion, it does mean less stunt work but at the same time we still have jobs because with the computer generated humans, it lacks the weight of a real person and in a lot of cases it is more expensive to go the CGI route. I think stunt work is going to lessen as technology gets more advanced but for now, we will still have work. It’s sad to say but, in my opinion, stunt work will very much dwindle down in the future.  SFME: Is it strange starring in movies and yet not really being recognised when you’re out and about?  LR: It isn’t strange for me at all. Stunt people are kind of the unsung heroes of movies and most of us like to keep it that way. I have no desire to be famous or recognisable. I want to be able to leave work at work and not have to carry it around with me everywhere I go.  SFME: Which of the movie or TV work that you’ve done are you most proud of? LR:It’s hard to say as I’ve been fortunate to be

a part of many amazing projects but I would have to say the Incredible Edible Egg commercial back in 2008. It was a great opportunity to show what freerunning is and what I can do. SFME: What are your ambitions within the industry? Would you ever like to become a fully fledged movie actress? LR: I just want to continue to work for awesome people and to do exciting, new projects. As far as acting goes, it is a very difficult craft and takes years of practice. I don’t have the passion for it like I do stunts. I like the physical acting.  SFME: What advice would you give to people interested in becoming a stunt double? LR: I would tell them to be patient and to work hard. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of investment and I would tell them to never give up. Don’t compare yourself to others. Each person has their own path to follow.  SFME: For those who don’t know could you explain a little about what freerunning is?  LR:Freerunning is using your body to overcome obstacles and it’s about being creative and choosing your own path.  SFME: What’s the difference between parkour and freerunning? LR: Parkour is about efficient movement. Getting from point A to point B as fast and efficiently as you can. Freerunning is adding style and creativity to that movement such as flips for example.  SFME: Tell us about Team Tempest – what’s the story behind the team and how did you become involved? LR: Team Tempest is a group of friends and likeminded people who share the same passion about the art of freerunning. I’m so fortunate to be on Team Tempest as they have changed my life in every way. It started out with four guys (Paul Darnell, Victor Lopez, Rich King, Gabe Nunez) who were all pursuing a career in stunts. They discovered they all had something in common – their love for freerunning, so they started a team. They were looking for a girl to add and I came along at just the right time. I was working on a film with Paul and Rich called The Changeling and I saw the crazy roof gaps and jumps they were doing and was incredibly inspired. I wanted to be taught immediately. Around the same time my good friend, Natascha Hopkins, was being trained by Victor for Paul Blart Mall Cop. Natascha asked Victor if I could join their training sessions, so I did, and the rest is history... SFME: What sort of things do the team do? LR:: We pretty much do it all. Film, TV, commercials, competitions (Red Bull Art of Motion), life shows, and high school tours. We do anything we can to inspire people to live their dream and to do what they are passionate about. 

SFME: How do freerunning events work? LR: With the Red Bull Art of Motion competitions there are usually 25-30 athletes invited from all over the world. It has become a lot more popular in the last year or so, so it is difficult to get invited. Each athlete gets a one minute run to do anything they want to do on the course that has been built. There are four judges and each judge has their own category – difficulty, style, execution, and creativity. Then each judge gives an overall impression score and the high and low are dropped. They then add the scores together and the top eight go on to finals. It took a little while to dial in the judging format but this is the way we have been doing it for the last several competitions. The competitions are so much fun because you get to see and train with your friends from all over the world. It’s not about beating or comparing yourself to everyone else it’s about reaching your potential as an athlete and doing the best that you can personally do. 



SFME: You must be quite proud to be the only woman in Team Tempest – do you feel any pressure to prove that you’re a match for the boys, and does this equally apply in your stunt work? LR: I don’t really think about it as being the only girl. The guys are my best friends and we get along so well I forget I’m the only girl. I just try to push myself and to reach my personal potential as an athlete. The guys inspire me beyond belief but by no means do I feel I need to match them. That’s what is so great about freerunning. You choose your own path and there are no rules. Whatever you want to do with your body is what is right. The guys have taught me to never sell myself short and that I am capable of so much more than I thought I was. As far as stunts go, just like freerunning, it’s male dominated but I don’t let it get in my way. I train hard and prepare myself and I am ready for any stunt or any challenge that comes my way. Females are just as capable as the guys except instead of long sleeves and pants, we’re doing the same stunts in tank tops and miniskirts. SFME: It’s a fast growing sport around the world – why do you think freerunning appeals to people? LR: I think it’s because people can be real life superheroes. I mean, who doesn’t want to be Jackie Chan? It also gives people the freedom to be creative and explore what their body is truly capable of.  SFME: How do you see freerunning developing in the future – could it be an Olympic sport for instance? LR: I personally don’t see it going the Olympic route. I see it more as an X-Games style sport. My hope is that it continues to grow and more and more kids as well as adults can enjoy moving. I truly believe it could change the obesity rate around the world and my wish is that people continue to try it and fall in love with it. It’s also an incredible sport because you don’t need any expensive equipment. All you need is a pair of shoes and even then, I see people training barefoot.   SFME: Do you have any signature moves that you’ve invented? LR: I’m sad to say but I haven’t invented any moves.  SFME: If free running continues to grow into a widely followed sport do you see yourself ditching the stunt work and focusing on freerunning – where does your future lie? LR: Although I love stunts, freerunning is my true passion. I want to be involved with it for the rest of my life. Even after I can’t physically freerun anymore, I want to continue to be involved in the community. I would love to be a motivational speaker and I would love to be able to hire athletes from all over the world so they can fulfill their dream of being professional freerunners.  SFME: Have you ever done or would you like to do freerunning in Dubai, we have a lot of exciting structures either already built or in development so it would make a good place to do an event? LR: I’ve never been to Dubai but I would love to go. Any chance I get to travel I jump at. I would love to train and check out some of the cool spots in Dubai. A competition there would be really cool!








JAVELIN thrower-turned model and TV personality Leryn Franco of Paraguay attracts more attention for her stunning looks than her ability to throw a long pointed stick across a field, which is, quite frankly, not surprising… South America isn’t exactly renowned for its javelin throwers and while the 30-year-old beauty hasn’t set the world alight on the international stage of track and field, she’s the national record holder and holds the top ranking in her country. However, like Anna Kournikova in the world of tennis, you somehow get the impression that where Leryn is concerned, her results just don’t really matter too much. She competed at both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics where, despite finishing 42nd and 51st, respectively, the former Miss Paraguay runner-up made javelin converts of thousands of hot collared men around the world. When she lines up for the Paraguay team in London this summer she has little hope of adding to her country’s single Olympic medal but you can bet she’ll do more to raise the profile of javelin than any other athlete before her. SFME: How special will the 2012 Olympics be for you despite, realistically, having little chance of getting on the podium? LF: For Paraguayan athletes to qualify for the London Olympics is already a medal. There is a lot of pressure but it’s a nice pressure, lots of adrenaline. The beauty of this Olympic dream is that it motivates me every day and gives me a lot of strength and energy to continue doing what I love. SFME: How did you become involved in the javelin? LF: I’ve always loved sports so I started at school with my friends just for fun! SFME: What’s the most memorable moment of your career? LF: This sport had given me so many memorable moments. When I set the record for Paraguay, the two Olympic Games I’ve competed in – even when I get hurt, you always remember the good and bad things… it’s the life we choose and I love it!

SFME: It’s quite unusual that you manage to balance a career as a TV host and model with being an Olympic athlete. LF: My career is media – people can turn on the TV or look at a magazine and see me. Not many other athletes in South America have another career alongside their sport but those who do are usually physical education teachers or coaches. SFME: What in life is most important to you? LF: The most important thing is to keep enjoying what you do and to have the support of family, friends and people around you. SFME: If you could spend the rest of your life any place in the world, which would you choose? LF: Home! SFME: Name three things you just can’t live without. LF: My cellphone, my car and the internet.

Leryn set pulses racing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Sport and Fitness Issue 14  

The MIddle East's number one sport and lesiure magazine. Official magazine of Fitness First. Blending global and regional sports features wi...

Sport and Fitness Issue 14  

The MIddle East's number one sport and lesiure magazine. Official magazine of Fitness First. Blending global and regional sports features wi...