The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

Archive for the tag “Olympics”

Exercising fasters

Today was a bit different. The plan was to film with Muslims who are fasting and exercising. I had got permission to film with a gym in East London, dedicated to training wrestlers but runs classes in other disciplines. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

The gym is called the Legion gym, named after the infamous French fighting force, known for it’s sheer toughness. The gym is run by Dr Amir Islami, a half Iranian half Uzbek origin British GP. His father was in the 1970s the national wrestling champion for Britain and Iran. Those were the golden days of wrestling in the UK. It was not just all about Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy. The amateur circuit was a different bag.

So today I went to this Rocky-style gym – it had opened up this evening to allow for an extra training session in the evening before fast opening. People came for a wrestling training session one hour before Maghreb – the sunset prayer and the time for opening the fast. Today was also the hottest I believe all year. It was certainly very warm. One of the wrestlers was a British man of Chechen origin, who also had won a Bronze medal in the Olympic pre-trials – but sadly had not been selected for paperwork reasons to be allowed to represent the UK at the Olympics. He took the warm-up. I was astounded by what I saw. At least 7 of the 10 men were Muslims who were fasting – but by the effort they were using in their warm up of amazing acrobatics and contortionist neck exercises you would never have been able to guess who the fasters and non-fasters were. Even the father Dr Amir was there – now 75 years old, fasting and still thrashing himself around the gym, training and wrestling with young men – some 3/4 his age. At a break in between training, the coach suggested those that could drink, go for a sip of water, but I noticed no-one left the room. Some default abstinence there I believe. It’s that respect thing again.

I went off and ran on a treadmill for about 15 minutes, did some weights and then cycled on an exercise bike. I was exhausted and very hot. More than a drink I wanted to just jump into an ice cold swimming pool. At the end of the training session, it was time to break the fast. Fasters and non-fasters alike shared dates and water bottles. One the guys training, another son of the now 75 year old wrestler is a personal trainer – he had been doing his job of personal training today and had then come for the training session. It was immense. I have no idea how. When he broke his fast, he spoke about the blessings of being to have water to drink when other’s out there don’t have any.

Then the fasters gathered next to the boxing ring on the mats for the sunset prayer of Maghreb and those that were not Muslim hung around chilling out on the mats, drinking water.

If you want to know more about the Legion Gym – grab a look here:

I left the gym to attend the taraweh prayer – but as I left it I read the quote on it’s walls:

‘Champions are not born but carved from stone.’


Another fasting Olympic story

Another fasting Olympic story

….but this one looks at those who have fasted. it also looks a little into scientific opinion on how fasting affects athletes. Best of all it talks about how one of my local mosques, East London mosque, held huge iftars to which Olympic athletes attended!


No Break From Fasting for Algerian athlete Mohamed Khaled Belabbas

Mohamed Khaled Belabbas fasting during the Olympics

BBC article on Olympic athletes fasting in Ramadhan

BBC article on Olympic athletes fasting – a lovely piece

Catching Up….

So the diary suffered a little over the last couple of weeks. There has been a lot going on and time has slipped. I have also learnt that keeping a blog requires discipline and I’m afraid I am not the most disciplined person I know. Far too much of a free spirit. But as the days rolled by unwritten I kept everything logged in my head – my thoughts were with the blog on a daily basis although I didn’t get to physically connect. 

What’s going to happen now is me filling in the gaps from the last time we met. There have been a variety of things going on such as fasting, making meals to break the fast for the family, massive huge family rows resulting in near dis-ownership – yes, I know it’s not what we are supposed to be doing in Ramadhan but family stuff happens despite ourselves – and lots and lots of tests for potential kidney donor screening for my brother. 

Oh I also moved to a room near to the hospital where I work. It took a few days to get used to the quiet and the routine of living on my own again but I have settled in now. Hence that’s me back to writing.

The Olympics have left London and the Paralympice have not yet bsgun. I totally loved how London became a cool friendly place to be. I am on the Underground tomorrow – I wonder if the fantastic atmosphere and the smiling policemen will still linger? Will let you know.

To Fast Or Not To Fast…That Is The Question

To Fast Or Not To Fast…That Is The Question

The UAE team qualify for the Olympics – this article looks into the issue of fasting whilst competing at Olympic level

Day 5 It’s Rather Hot.

I know we are missing day 4, but I will get that up soonest. I just wanted to update on today so far. I had my meeting with my business consultant from a government triggered initiative to support ex-service personnel start their own businesses. It was a rather positive experience. Now I know writing and trying to make films from my borrowed bedroom in my mum’s house has its perks, there are times when you just need that creative space and to feel more than just another hopeful. So this meeting was the first step in projecting a more focused and professional plan in my ambition to set up my own functioning media production company. They are going to teach me how to write a business plan which is going to be so helpful. When you really have to think through the fine details it’s actually quite tough. Up until now I have largely been depending on my creative spirit but it’s time to grow up.

I think Remi was wondering why I didn’t want anything to drink and I almost tried to explain that I was fasting. But what I hate is making people uncomfortable or awkward because they are drinking or eating in front of me. So I just said no thanks and instead talked about my business plan. It felt like being on Alan Sugar’s Apprentice!

The meeting took place in the Institute of Directors – just a five minute wander from Liverpool Street. I love the area actually-with Spitalfield’s around the corner, the heart of the financial body beating just beyond the station and a link should you need to the rest of London via the tube. I love it most because I can get to it from where I live without having to get onto the tube. I hate London Underground. Sorry but I do. It smells and I always feel ‘grimey’ when I emerge into the daylight like a mole.

So tell me when did it get so hot? I mean it is boiling out there. The announcer over the train was sensibly telling us all to carry a bottle of water. My sister is working at the Olympics as a Games Maker. Yesterday she described the anti-climax of it all being in the Olympic VIllage. She’s a GP registrar and was employed as someone to security check bags. She is fasting and said that she had never felt so thirsty in the whole of her life. She didn’t mind the role given to her if that’s what it was going to take to be part of the London Olympic family-but she’s just not feeling it yet.

There are signs up at the train station welcoming people to the Olympic city, and people taking photos of themselves next to them. A small group stood cheering and posing, with one member wearing pink T-shirts that said ‘Ceremonies’-in the Olympic logo jagged edge style. Lucky bloke. Watching the ceremony on TV is just not going to feel the same. I wonder if I stand in my back garden will I be able to hear faint sounds of the score ordered by Danny Boyle? I remember being about 9 years old and standing on top of the desk in my bedroom looking out of the top window to see fireworks going off somewhere near Canary Wharf at a Jean-Michel Jarre concert. Might be doing the same all these years on. I failed in my resolve to get a ticket to the opening or closing ceremony. Ah well-there’s always Brazil to try.

Once I would have wilted in this heat-not sure how hot it exactly is but let’s say very. But after Tataouine (Tunisia not Star Wars) last year and it’s scorched earth policy, I feel as if I have built a lifelong tolerance to extreme heat. I don’t like it but I don’t feel ill in it. And I was fasting last year too in 45 degrees heat. Now that’s when you are going to feel thirsty!

I think I am devoted to my blog and almost slightly addicted. I rushed home to write. It’s so exciting to see my network expanding-yesterday we had readers from the US, UK, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Canada, EU, Singapore, Norway, France and today we have the UAE, Indonesia and Jersey added to the list. I remember sailing our boat , complete with a skipper to Jersey on our way to Saint Marlo when I was a Sandhurst cadet. I was on my Competent Crew course. I vomited all the way there from the Isle of Wight. It was an awesome trip.




Travel Chaos Coming

Daily Mail on Olympics, Ramadhan and Traffic!

The Daily Mail has a good point! East London during Ramadhan is a pretty exciting place to be if you are a Muslim faster in the capital. It’s vibrant, full of atmosphere in the evenings and essentially a good place for congregational prayers. But this year it’s going to coincide with the Olympics. the already predicted travel chaos is going to be that much more interesting.

Muslim athletes and the Olympics-there’s more!

Muslim athletes and the Olympics-there’s more!

More on Muslim athletes fasting during the Olympics or the acceptance of the allowances to not fast. This time it’s an Aljazeera English piece.

Fasting and the Olympics

Fasting and the Olympics

There is a lot out their on this issue! It’s obviously causing a little bit of a stir. There a differing schools of thought and all are being aired and practised. I am loving the way the media are wondering how Muslim athletes are going to manage to fast and compete. It is totally hardcore and I’m impressed.

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