Fahad Al Abri: Handstand around the World
“For me, the handstand is the best symbol where the physical and the mental meet in one move – it is very powerful.” – Fahad Al Abri
Being able to do a handstand is a great achievement as it requires immense strength, flexibility, concentration, and determination. In today’s interview we speak with Fahad Al Abri, an adventurer who is determined to perform a handstand in every city he visits. Fahad believes that his movement can inspire and motivate people to look at the world from a different perspective.
ub-cool: Have you always been interested in sports and the arts?
Fahad Al Abri: I’ve always been passionate about art, training, exercise, fitness, and wellness.
ub-cool: At what age did you become a professional athlete and trainer?
Fahad Al Abri: I was a competitive athlete from the age of 16, and during university moved to becoming a professional trainer. I was brought up between two environments: one of them is artistic and the other one is physical; I was also always very competitive playing different sports competitively.
Discovery of Sports and Music
Playing numerous sports at a young age and earning a brown belt in karate, Fahad played football professionally in Oman during secondary school until he discovered Gaelic Football in his early 20’s. The Irish sport was present in Oman because of the Irish expat community living there. For Fahad, Gaelic Football intrigued him because it looked like a mix of rugby, football, and basketball, it was team oriented, and it had full-body contact – he really wanted a sport where he could engage his hands! Fahad excelled in the sport and was rewarded with the opportunity to play professionally in Ireland. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) held its inaugural World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2015, in which Fahad participated. Last year, in Dublin, teams from 20 countries competed in the World Games speaking to the international popularity of the sport.
This impressive fitness side of Fahad is balanced equally by his passion for the arts. It was his close friend, a well-known music composer, Ahmed Al-Musawi, who introduced Fahad to music. Beginning with the guitar, harmonica, and ukulele, Fahad’s interest in music grew and he began teaching himself how to play. Today, you can find Fahad usually playing the ukulele either for himself or performing when asked.
Becoming a Trainer
While in Dublin for his studies, Fahad accepted an offer from the GAA to attend a course about field and tactical sports, and physical movements; this was his introduction to the professional side of being a trainer. From there his passion grew and, after returning to Oman, together with his friend Steph McQuaid, Fahad joined a community called Oman GAA who have participated in tournaments in the GCC region. In 2015, Fahad was selected to compete in the GAA World Games and was designated the All Star as the best defender in that tournament. His passion for sports kept him going and lead him to receive his fitness instructor certification.
ub-cool: Do you prefer training indoors or outside in the fresh air?
Fahad Al Abri: I am more of an outdoor adventurous person… I am not a big fan of being indoors. Although, I can’t ask for much; I am also happy to work in environments like gyms because I am a very active person.
ub-cool: How did you transition to becoming a ‘movement coach?’
Fahad Al Abri: I started to see the artistic side of fitness where simple poses or moves can really represent symbolic concepts. Moves like handstands and la planche are known in many different methods such as gymnastics and yoga, and also find their roots in the Greek world of calisthenics – the art of strength. Every time I do a pose, I feel I am expressing myself towards it. This then drove me to be more interested in becoming a movement coach and a trainer. I wanted to break away from the repetitiveness in the fitness industry.
The Handstand Movement
ub-cool: What inspired your ‘Handstand Movement’?
Fahad Al Abri: I decided to give to myself a goal that I am passionate about and share it with everyone. So I chose a move that I really love and which resembles me a lot: the handstand. For me, it symbolizes the meaning of the mind and the body together and expresses freedom, strength, standing differently, and fitness and wellness of the mind and body.
Performing a handstand requires a lot of mental effort: determination, not giving up, and will power. It also requires the strength aspect of building your upper-body strength which needs both patience and gaining a better understanding of how your system works together. For me, the handstand is the best symbol where the physical and the mental meet in one move – it is very powerful.
ub-cool: Did you learn to perform the handstand as a child?
Fahad Al Abri: Actually, I learned how to do a handstand only a year and a half ago.
ub-cool: What is your message behind your ‘Handstand Movement’?
Fahad Al Abri: The reason for this movement, where I handstand in every city, is to encourage everyone to stand differently and view the world from a different perspective. I want people to break through cultural norms, stereotypes, and ideas and view them from a different perspective – I want people to stand for this. It is not easy to stand on your hands, but it is also not hard to; it means everything requires effort.
ub-cool: Your Instagram account has stunning photos of you doing handstands in many different cities and in fascinating outdoor landscapes. Where are you going to handstand next?
Fahad Al Abri: I just came back from London, and at the end of the month I am going to Spain and Switzerland; I want to try to cover all the countries next to them. In the long term, I want to cover most countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Later, in September, I am going to the United States as well.
ub-cool: Who is your biggest supporter and motivator?
Fahad Al Abri: That’s a difficult question…. I like to challenge myself but the biggest external support would be my close friends, who I often call family, and my girlfriend. They have supported me a lot and are the reason I keep going.
Most Outrageous Experience
ub-cool: What is the most outrageous or adrenaline-driven experience you’ve ever had – something you would never do again?
Fahad Al Abri: One of the craziest things I’ve done happened recently. I went to London to attend Ido Portal’s three-day workshop but… I didn’t book any accommodation. After receiving an invitation via social media from Portal to attend his ‘movement workshop’, I quickly went to London without planning anything – this is Conor McGregor’s trainer! I had to grab this opportunity but didn’t realize London would be fully booked….. I was almost going to sleep on the street!
ub-cool: Where did you end up sleeping?
Fahad Al Abri: In the end, I was lucky because a friend was also in the workshop and his hostel had space for one more. Next time, in London, I will not do this again. Looking back, I now ask myself: why did I do this to myself? Would I really regret not going to the workshop? The answer is… yes; I would regret it if I didn’t attend that workshop – I would regret it so much.
ub-cool: It must have been an honour to train with Ido Portal – the man who trains the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, Conor McGregor. What aspect of this experience appealed to you the most?
Fahad Al Abri: To me, Portal has reached the ultimate level in ‘fitness understanding’ and ‘movement understanding’. Also, he agreed with many things I believe in: the mind and body together, and how to express the way you move. I really learned a lot from him in this three-day workshop! He showed us not only McGregor’s training, but also his own ideology, philosophy, and how he sees things. This technique takes a person’s movement from ordinary to extraordinary.
ub-cool: We heard you are going to the United States to compete in the Spartan Competition soon.
Fahad Al Abri: Yes. I am representing Oman at the Spartan World Championship at Lake Tahoe in September, and I am running The Beast.
ub-cool: That’s a great accomplishment to represent Oman. When did you run your first Spartan Race?
Fahad Al Abri: Last year.
ub-cool: Do you have any advice for beginners who want to try to run the Spartan Race for the first time?
Fahad Al Abri: Yes – believe in yourself.
Lessons and Training Schedule
ub-cool: Tell us more about your personal training schedule.
Fahad Al Abri: Basically, another reason that I really like the handstand is that I can do it anywhere. I don’t need any equipment for it. It is very efficient. I am training my entire body in one pose without much movement.
Now, I do a lot of body-weight exercises. If you develop the quality of your movement that means you are engaging more muscles in your system; therefore, you burn more calories. I am putting more effort in 15-20 minutes of movement exercises than 45 minutes of walking. It is very intense; but, also, it is easier, if you manage to maintain the standards.
ub-cool: How many hours of the day do you train?
Fahad Al Abri: Actually, every day I train 6 to 7 clients, which includes the classes I offer as well. There are some days that there is little time for my own personal training regimen; but, I always find time to train myself because I have to be an example for my clients. If I have a morning shift, then I train myself in the evening; if I have an evening shift, then I train myself in the morning. But, my training is always around improving my skills.
ub-cool: Do you follow a particular meal plan?
Fahad Al Abri: My food schedule is simple so I don’t stress myself at the work. I follow the Paleo diet where you eat things that are less processed. Also, I try not to eat anything sweet after 6 PM; that is the best advice I can give anyone – no sugar after 6pm.
ub-cool: What type of classes do you offer at the Wellness Centre in Muscat, Oman?
Fahad Al Abri: I offer Queenax and Circuit Prama classes, and will now be offering Animal Flow, a new technique that I learned in Milan from its creator, Mike Fitch. This new method of training is similar to a combination of yoga and calisthenics. I am now the first ‘animal flow’ coach in Oman, and the second coach of this method in the Middle East.
Follow Fahad Al Abri and his ‘Handstand Movement’ @cavemangram