Khaled Al Shehhis has helped steer Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club to the finals of the Jiu-Jitsu Presidents Cup. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Balancing fitness goals and fasting can be a challenge for athletes during the Holy Month of Ramadan. But the UAE jiu-jitsu team faces this challenge head-on as they prepare for upcoming national and international competitions. Fasting from dawn to dusk, these athletes are striking a perfect balance between a testing training regime and their fast during the Holy month.

In the first week of Ramadan, various Emirati athletes performed brilliantly at both the Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament in Dubai and the Jiu-Jitsu President’s Cup in Abu Dhabi. Now, as they prepare for this weekend’s Jiu-Jitsu President’s Cup finals, they have spoken about their preparations during Ramadan and how the Holy Month has only made them more motivated.

Light meals

“The effect of fasting on my physical condition was reduced by making slight changes to the training programme in the month of Ramadan,” said Khaled Al Shehhi, a winner of multiple medals at various local and international competitions, including gold at the 2018 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Sweden. “By taking light meals and adjusting exercise routines before and after Iftar, I have successfully managed to reduce the potentially tiring effects of training and fasting simultaneously.”

Al Shehhi’s planning paid off as he helped steer Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club to the finals of the Jiu-Jitsu President’s Cup at Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi.

Abdullah Al Kubaisi, a player for Al Wahda Club, said on the side-lines of the President’s Cup that he too feels he has benefitted from fasting, noting a stronger commitment to his preparations.

“My training has gone well during the past few weeks of Ramadan, where I prepared with my teammates with full force in order to achieve our goals,” he said. “During the day in Ramadan, I engage in more mental exercises than physical ones, while in the evening, the exercises are more physical. I always take care not to waste too much energy and fluids from my body and I feel this approach enhances my chances of winning.”

Mental strength

Shamma Al Kalbani, another UAE national member and multiple medal winner, has also experienced similar sentiments during Ramadan. “Fasting requires a lot of mental strength and resilience,” she said. “As athletes, we need to be mentally prepared to overcome the challenges of fasting and training and need to have a positive mindset and focus on our goals. Only this way can we stay motivated and achieve success. It’s not easy to train while fasting, but it’s a challenge that we are ready to accept. The key is to manage our time effectively and plan our meals accordingly. We need to make sure we eat the right food that provides us with the required nutrition to keep our energy levels high throughout the day.”

“Fasting requires a lot of mental strength and resilience," says Shamma Al Kalbani, another UAE national member and multiple medal winner. Image Credit: Supplied

“Ramadan requires us to make some adjustments to our daily routine,” added the 22-year-old, who made history at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama last year, by winning two bronze medals. “For me, training during Ramadan is all about finding the right balance. Before starting my training, I make sure to hydrate well and avoid the hottest hours of the day. I also modify the intensity of my training to avoid over-exerting myself. That seems to work well for me.”