Best of the Maldives: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Hard Rock

Various martial arts provide not just a form of fitness to train the body, but also a discipline which trains the mind as well as a provide a range of skills for self-defence. One is particularly timely for the global “Black Lives Matter” movement which has been catalysed by police violence to minorities in recent times. All sorts of political pundits and advocates have weighed in with their analyses, but I was particularly impressed with Sam Harris’ proposition that a large part of the problem is due to inadequate training of officers. In this recent “Making Sense” podcast, “Police Training & Police Misconduct” he talks to Rener Gracie is a third-generation member of the legendary Gracie Family credited with creating the self-defense system known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu about how the discipline can transform policing. 

The art is perhaps also appropriate in the destination of the Maldives where the citizens are of a smaller stature.  BFF is distinctive in its ability for a smaller person to neturalise a larger adversary.  Jiu-jitsu came to international prominence in martial arts circles when Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Royce Gracie (Rener’s uncle) won 3 of the first 4 Ultimate Fighting Championships fighting against mostly larger opponents proficient in other fighting styles.  BJJ has since become an core aspect o Mixed Martial Arts.

I had never heard of Brazilian Ju-jitsu (or “BJJ”) until I visited Hard Rock Maldives last year and saw “The Red Mat” facility. It is a training area specifically for the BJJ training they have brought to the resort. It was introduced to Hard Rock by its General Manager Tolga Unan who studied the discipline in China. Offering daily jiu-jitsu sessions for staff and guests, Hard Rock is the first 5-star jiu-jitsu resort in the world. All resort instructors are purple belts. If you’re a member of a jiu-jitsu Certified Training Center, then Hard Rock has a special discount package offer.

Hard Rock - brazilian jujitsu

Best of the Maldives: Fitness Centre Glass Floor – LUX North Male Atoll

LUX North Male Atoll - gym glass floor

I’ve been comprehensively cataloguing glass floors in the Maldives for years, and LUX North Male Atoll’s is the first I’ve seen in a fitness centre. Years ago, all fitness centres were stuck away in some remote, claustrophobic centre of the island making one’s effort to work off last night’s pina colada binge all the more excruciating. More recently, top resorts have moved their gyms to a pride of place with an ocean view with the spectacular vista as inspiring as any video on a little screen. LUX provides not just views of the sea beyond, but also the marine life below (or the gives the fish below a framed shot at the fit bodies above, depending literally on your point of view). And it is not just a token little portal, but an expansive area that covers the entire entry area to the centre.

Best of the Maldives: Push Sled – One & Only Reethi Rah

One & Only Reethi Rah - push sled

The trend in fitness to HIT conditioning takes me back to the old school days when training was basically moving heavy objects like barbells and medicine balls. One & Only Reethi Rah has introduced a workout that takes me back to my high school and college football days – the Power Sled. Designed for linemen like me to strengthen their ability to push opponents off the line of scrimmage. You can see one in action at the 1:00 mark of the introduction sequence to the USA TV show “Ballers” (great series starring Dwayne Johnson). This picture features Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri on holiday, but keeping up her fitness regimen.

Best of the Maldives: Natural Weights – Joali

Joali - wood weights 2

Looking for an all-natural workout. Joali features possibly the most natural workout equipment I have ever come across. In the Maldives or elsewhere. No plastic or metal (!), just wood. It has a real Flintstones vibe. If the Swiss Family Robinson ever opened a fitness centre on their castaway island, this is what it would look like. And yet, free weights are free weight. Plenty of heft for good workouts.

I’m a big aficionado of woodwork (admiring, not making) and I’m surprised I don’t yet have a “Wood” tag for all the features using this rich, natural material (but I do now).

Joali - wood weights 3

Joali - fitness

Best of the Maldives: Fitness Tree – Cocoon

Cocoon - tree of well being

Cocoon not only brought the inside…out, but it also made its outdoor workout facility more like the outdoors itself. Its “Tree of Well Being” is not just a functional fitness apparatus for body-weight training, but also provides a striking sculptural aesthetic as well

  • ·The Tree of Wellbeing is provided by MyEquilibria, a ground-breaking new concept of physical fitness based on instinctive body movements. At first glance, Tree of Wellbeing looks more like a work of art than a place for exercise. Engineered around the biomechanics of instinctive training, the Tree of Wellbeing was created by innovative designer Vito Di Bari.”

See the video below for a video demonstration of one of the exercises.

This is just the latest of a number of activities brought outdoors in the sun-soaked landscape so I’ve now added a new tag “Al Fresco” for things conventionally done indoors that resorts have taken outdoors.

Best of the Maldives: Outdoor Fitness Centre – AaaVeee

AaaVee - outdoor gym

People question why you would want to sit in a gym when you have travelled thousands of miles to be in a natural paradise. I was one of those guys who would do workouts on my Maldives holidays. I wanted to keep momentum in my training, I could get great sessions in because I was eating and sleeping extra well, and the general enthusiasm of the whole holiday gave me an extra boost. I did appreciate when resorts made an effort to bring the outdoors in with big picture windows and well situated views. But AaaVeee’s fitness center goes a step even further. Bringing the inside…out. Their gym is fully outdoors. It does have clear wind/rain sheets to lower during inclement weather. It is so outdoors, that it even has a palm tree going in the middle of it through the floor.

Best of the Maldives: Water Rower – Hurawalhi

Hurawalhi - water rower

One of my other hobbies (with accompanying website) is rowing. Small-world coincidence, one of my fellow coaches at Marlow Rowing Club, Imogen Walsh, was one of the first rowing coaches in the Maldives stationed there for a year to help develop the sport. One of my first “Haven’t Seen Yet” items is finding a resort with a sculling boat (and there still are none). But the Life Fitness “water rower” at Hurawalhi is designed to most closely simulate the action of rowing in the water with a slider seat the resistance is actually created by a small tank of water at the foot of the apparatus. State-of-the art rowing training with a striking large window view of the nearby ocean to provide that extra aesthetic water feel.