Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Local Experts – Candice Howe, the fittest woman in Asia and co-owner of CrossFit LifeSpark Dubai

This is the first of a new section where I will ask Dubai-based fitness experts some questions, which I hope will provide you with some tips, motivation and an insight into their methods and personalities.

I’m over the moon that Candice Howe, winner of the Reebok 2011 CrossFit Asia Regionals, and co-owner and trainer at CrossFit LifeSpark (http://crossfitlifesparkdubai.com) has taken some time out of her manic schedule to answer a few questions.

FiD: What does your weekly training regime look like?
CH: CrossFit (http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-crossfit.html) training is constantly varied, so I do something different every week. I train 5-6 times per week for about 60 to 90minutes. Each session includes a strength piece – usually a power or Olympic lift, and then the WOD (workout of the day) which will generally be between 5 and 20 minutes in length and a couplet or triplet (2 or 3 movements) to be completed at high intensity. Today for example, I will warm up then work up to 3x100kg deadlift, followed by deadlift maximum repetitions at 85kg. My WOD is 2 couplets with 5 mins rest in between: 9-6-3 (9 reps, then 6 reps then 3 reps) power clean at 40kg and 15-12-9 push ups. Then the 5 min rest, followed by 9-6-3 power snatch at 30kg and 15-12-9 box jumps on to a 24 inch box. Finally I will accumulate 2 minutes in a handstand before a cool down and stretch.


FiD: What are the staples in your diet and supplementary intake?
CH: I follow the Paleo diet – fruit, veg, seeds, nuts, and protein (meat, fish, poultry) – no processed food, legumes, grains or diary. No, it’s not as restrictive as it sounds! The upside for me is that as long as I eat Paleo I don’t suffer from muscle soreness after training! I don’t take any supplements, and try to get everything I need from whole foods.

FiD: How do you keep yourself motivated?
CH: Right now, with the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games finals (FiD: taking place on 29th – 31st July at Home Depot Center in Carson, California http://games.crossfit.com/) coming up that is all the motivation I need. When I don’t feel like training or fancy a cheat meal I think to myself, ‘What would the other girls be doing right now?!’ That helps keep me on the straight and narrow and helps me dig deep to push through even the toughest days! Moving forward I want to get to the Games again next year, so the hard work for that starts now! The beauty and beast of CrossFit is that we pull from so many disciplines, so there are always things to work on – having constantly evolving goals and varied programming keeps it fresh and interesting!

FiD: What’s the worst fitness/sporting mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
CH: Hmm… stopping sport! Between the ages of 15 and 17 I did very little exercise. The school I was at had no PE programme, and being a teenager I didn’t bother going out to look for an alternative to nothing! As a result, when I went back to sports some gymnastics induced injuries arose (they had never manifested as I always had enough muscle to support my joints). Two years of no training and I developed hip issues due to hypermobility and a lack of muscle to support my joints. It took me a long time to come back to any intense or high impact exercise. So my biggest mistake was going cold turkey on exercise for two years and then expecting to be able to pick up where I left off with no issues – even as a teenager this was not the case!

FiD: What fitness/sporting achievement are you most proud of?
CH: Winning the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Asia Regional! (FiD: checkout the hard earned medal!) I entered the competition in order to build community and spread the word about CrossFit in Dubai – so to have made it to Regionals was amazing – winning was incredible! Having the opportunity to progress to the Games is once in a lifetime.

FiD: What can someone expect from a session at CrossFit LifeSpark?
CH: A tough workout and a great community! The beauty of CrossFit is that everything is scalable. This means that all classes are mixed ability and each person’s fitness level determines the workout they do. We follow a similar structure in class to the one I use – each session includes a comprehensive warm up, a skill or strength piece and the WOD. The group dynamic in the box (gym) is great, people cheer each other on, help each other out and really work and grow together. You can expect more than just a great workout!

FiD: What’s the best piece of fitness/sporting advice you’ve been given?
CH: “Take a deep breath… now do it again,” is my coach’s motto! (FiD: I remember hearing that one few times!) At the moment with all the training I am doing for the Games it is very apt! In general: ‘If you aim at nothing, you hit nothing’ – you need to come at everything you do with a goal, otherwise you don’t know what you are working for or towards. It’s advice that was given to me in a very general context, but something that influences everything I do.

Thanks Candice, good luck in LA! We'll all be rooting for you, I'm sure you'll do Asia proud! CrossFit LifeSpark is based in Star International School, off Al Wasl Road, Dubai. For more information about CrossFit LifeSpark, go to: http://crossfitlifesparkdubai.com/ or email Candice at candice@lifesparkcoaching.com

Fitness in Dubai features reviews of all the latest fitness programmes and local gyms, such as The Circuit Factory, 24 Fitness and CrossFit LifeSpark, as well as reviews of fitness fads, fitness tests and fitness equipment, from Vibram Five Fingers barefoot running shoes to VO2 Max testing. Ultimately, this fitness blog - as featured in Good Taste, Men's Fitness, Time Out and Shape magazines - contains everything you need to know about fitness in Dubai, UAE, in the Middle East. Bookmark it now.

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