• Two Nutritionists, Lulwa AlArmali and Nasser Alawadh on Kuwaiti Food, Macros, Instagram Credibility of Nutritionists, and Food for Athletes

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps: 0:51 – Nassar is a dietician and the only health-related podcaster with a show in Arabic. He and Lulwa (The Functional Nutritionist) discuss their opinions of “research” being passed around on Instagram.

    4:47 – They agree that using data or explaining how the researchers came to those specific conclusions provide validity and credibility to the source.

    9:20 – While Nassa attracts individuals who are Level 0-1, Lulwa’s clients are usually Level 2-3, but they are all looking to level up.

    9:38 – They discuss ways they know that someone on Instagram is full of baloney, including contradictions, not knowing your audience, claiming that “this is the best thing,” or not including practical application or experiences.

    18:32 – When it comes to the biggest pitfalls of Kuwaiti weekend consumption, there is a social aspect to be considered which sometimes makes people feel pressured into eating foods that are not good for them. However, over the past few years, there has been a mental shift where families and friends are more accepting of people not wanting to eat certain foods.

    25:45 – Lulwa and Nassa provide some valuable insight into the types of typical foods that are best for you to eat as well as some tips for keeping everyone happy while not compromising your commitments.

    28:48 – Mahdi asks about what types of foods an athlete should gravitate towards in a traditional spread.

    32:54 – Stews may be a good food to consume, but it is important to consider the sodium factor.

    36:36 – Nassa describes the differences between old Kuwaiti cuisine and its modern equivalents and the the sources of each.

    39:45 – He continues by talking about how dates used to be eaten in comparison to the modern way of preserving them in molasses. It is best to eat them right off the tree because you are able to eat more than you should of the ones preserved in molasses.

    44:29 – Lulwa weighs in on what a good sugar intake would be for the average person without insulin resistance.

    48:55 – The old way of thinking encourages athletes to eat carbs, pasta, and dates.

    50:19 – Nassa explains that a prevailing thought in Kuwaiti culture right now is that you don’t need to work out or eat healthy at all, and this is resulting in weight gain.

    51:42 – They touch on the problem of food bullying or shaming and the importance of knowing yourself and ignoring the bullies. This is your own journey and it may look different than other people think it should.

    55:36 – In closing, the Kuwaiti cuisine is actually not as unhealthy as people might think. It is important to be open minded and eat intentionally.


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  • Entrepreneur and Fitness Guru Abdullah Al-Askari Discuss Fitness and Health-Related Businesses, Start-Up Cost of Gyms, Copycat Business Models, and The Future of Trainers and Gym Owners in Kuwait

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:35 – Abdullah Al Askari is an entrepreneur and fitness guru who is involved in many fitness and health related businesses.

    2:55 – He says that the biggest problem in Kuwait’s gyms is the service.

    3:45 – The biggest problem with coaches and trainers at gyms is that the owners feel pressure to have “big name” coaches at the expense of having a variety of trainers for all levels of clients.

    5:31 – Gyms fall into the trap of being overly concerned about making money and not concerned enough about providing great service.

    7:11 – In terms of trends, he encourages proprietors and clients alike to know their specific needs and not get too caught up in the next big thing.

    9:37 – In the future, Abdullah expects the training industry to become more regulated, but it will likely be a while.

    11:31 – Liam says that he sees trainers at the extremes: either having a ton of certifications and experience but no talent or no certifications but being great coaches. It’s important to find one in the middle.

    12:57 – High level trainers also need to have a good personality and the ability to coach their clients.

    15:25 – Abdullah says that from a gym’s perspective, having a trainer on staff who is an influencer is seen as a necessary risk.

    16:25 – Abdullah’s ideal gym experience, from the front desk interaction to the workout area.

    21:05 – Liam says that while some gyms are popping up for one specific purpose, the most versatile gyms have multiple modalities in one place.

    22:54 – The start up cost for a 500 square meter gym space is about 120-150 KD in Kuwait because of the high rent.

    24:30 – Mahdi and Liam talk about their experiences at old school basement gyms.

    28:45 – There are a lot of consumers out there who are buying the trendy fitness tools but lack the education about what they really need to be doing.

    30:40 – Abdullah talks about the dynamics of gyms that are not innovating, what can cause them to succeed or fail.

    32:29 – Abdullah stays in shape by having no social life and getting to the gym every morning at 5:00am.

    33:11 – He talks about shifts in bodybuilding over the years.

    36:55 – Liam describes the difficulty of his clients getting contradictory information from multiple sources which impacts the effectiveness of their training. There are not enough legitimate sources out there, but physicians can give you the proper tests and sample dosages.

    40:38 – These days, the trainer also serves as the steroid dealer because the clients put pressure on them to deliver results. This comes with many additional challenges.

    44:48 – Abdullah talks about 70/30, a meal prep service that he started in November 2018. They work with clients and trainers to personalize their meals to their specific needs based on their preferences and their planned workouts for each day. There are four packages: Shred, Fuel, Build, and Bulk.

    49:18 – Kuwait loves the copycat business model, so Abdullah sees the oversaturation in the market of meal prep services right now as par for the course. Those businesses with great quality and service will outlast the rest.

    53:48 – They talk about the phenomenon of Kuwaiti owners who don’t truly take ownership of their business, which leads to their downfall.

    55:39 – There is also an influx of Kuwaiti trainers, and Abdullah says that the ones who are truly passionate about it will outlast the rest.






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  • Mahdi, Meg, and Liam Discuss The Keys to Ramadan: A Starting Point for Mindfulness, Discipline, Weight Loss and Muscle Growth

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:05 – Mahdi, Liam, and Meg find themselves talking about the “Sex With Emily” podcast.

    3:33 – Liam talks about his impression of Ramadan from a Western perspective.

    6:41 – There are certain expectations around eating habits during Ramadan, especially when you go to multiple gatherings per night, so how can you maintain a healthy lifestyle during this time?

    8:51 – People justify indulgences during Ramadan more than they probably should.

    10:31 – Meg talks about intermittent fasting and the benefit of occasionally practicing it to prepare for Ramadan fasting. Intermittent fasting has incredible health benefits if done the right way.

    13:43 – It is crucially important for you to be intentional about what you eat when you break fast every night.

    15:13 – Meg recommends bone broth and other sources of good fats rather than the traditional dates. Liam adds that you should avoid processed foods and sweets which can spike your insulin levels and cause you to store fat.

    17:45 – Mahdi talks about the effects of melatonin in terms of sleep but also appetite regulation at night. Liam says that it is important to maintain a consistent sleep pattern during Ramadan to help your body keep producing the right melatonin levels.

    21:28 – Liam recommends that you ask yourself what you are really trying to do during Ramadan. It likely comes down to discipline, so this is a great opportunity to create good habits. Meg agrees, explaining that fasting elevates your cortisol levels, but having a plan helps you avoid more stress.

    23:32 – Liam wonders how people can avoid dehydration during Ramadan, and Meg recommends that people eat watery fruits and vegetables rather than sugary items. Your last meal of the night should be heavy in watery fruits and vegetables and high fat foods.

    25:20 – Mahdi brings up the point that the food industry creates their foods to be addictive, so you will crave what you have been eating.

    28:08 – Mahdi is going to try doing strength training in the morning and cardio in the evening during Ramadan this year, which Meg affirms as a good plan. Liam says that this is a great way to retain muscle.

    31:20 – Liam wants people to understand that even though you might not have as much energy to work out during Ramadan, you will be able to do it, and you will find that working out provides your body with needed energy.

    33:04 – “A tiger never hunts when it is full.” As long as you prepare the night before by eating a sufficient meal and getting a good night’s sleep, you can find success in working out on an empty stomach in the morning.

    35:29 – Liam emphasizes that a good coach or trainer is an valuable resource in this area especially, guiding you along your workout and nutrition routines throughout Ramadan. Meg points out that it is very important that you know your body and make an effort to understand what’s going on.

    36:50 – Ramadan is the ideal time to work out because the intermittent fasting will hep you burn belly fat. 

    37:45 – Meg’s key points for navigating fitness during Ramadan are: limiting sugar intake, avoiding probiotic deficiency, eating good healthy fats, movement, mindfulness, sleep, and reducing screen time and involvement in drama.

    40:41 – Mahdi says that he is going to try the carnivore diet this year. Meg recommends the 800g of fruits and vegetables challenge, but remember that your main intention during this time is just discipline in whatever you decide to commit to.


    “The C Word” documentary: https://www.netflix.com/title/80126485 

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  • 043: Heart Surgeon Dr. Mohammed Albanna Discusses lifestyle, Potential side effects of E-cigarettes , Heart Disease Prevention, Steroids and Blood Vessels blockages, And why exercising could save your life!

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    0:40 – Dr. Mohammed Albanna is a great heart surgeon in the community who was trained in Canada and the United Kingdom.

    2:56 – He describes the condition of heart health in Kuwait based on the inactive and unhealthy lifestyles that many people live. This leads to an increased risk of coronary artery disease caused by lack of sufficient oxygen and nutrients. In fact, heart disease is the #1 killer in the world, with 17 million heart disease-related deaths every year.

    6:41 – Genetics do play a huge role in people’s predisposition to heart disease, especially for people of Southeast Asian descent like many in Kuwait. It has been found that these populations have smaller coronary arteries than people from other regions of the world.

    8:15 – The biggest key to avoiding heart disease is prevention. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of cardio every day but no more than 2 hours per day. The simple act of walking can be very impactful if the heart rate gets above 100.

    10:38 – Dr. Albanna describes athletes heart syndrome and its physical impacts on the athlete.

    13:25 – Next, he explains hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) which is like athlete’s heart but caused by a genetic mutation. He recommends that all athletes have regular check-ups including EKG testing to determine if they have this mutation.

    17:18 – Dr. Albanna emphasizes the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

    18:40 – Mahdi asks about stents and how people with stents should exercise after their procedures. Dr. Albanna recommends a cardiac rehab program for anyone with any type of heart issue but especially those who have had procedures to correct an issue.

    22:30 – Stents should be taken as a warning sign that the person needs to make some lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, developing an exercise routine, and making better food choices.

    26:21 – Mahdi points out that some athletes think that they can continue smoking if they make up for it with their workouts. This could not be farther from the truth because smoking can lead to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and so many other diseases regardless of your fitness habits.

    28:55 – E-cigarettes are new to the market and becoming trendy, but the nicotine in them is just as addictive as that in regular cigarettes, so these should be avoided. The only benefit of e-cigarettes is when someone is trying to quit smoking by intentionally choosing how much nicotine they consume.

    30:16 – Dr. Albanna says that most people should be able to take care of themselves into their 80s, so when he has surgery patients in their 50s or 60s, they are very young to be having heart issues.

    31:33 – Heart attacks have 3 causes: (1) narrowing or blockage causing the heart to not be able to keep up with demand, (2) a smaller blockage that causes abnormal matter to enter the bloodstream, or (3) vessel dissection, common with people who take steroids.

    34:49 – Steroids make the blood vessel walls thinner, so when an athlete stresses their heart during an intense workout, they are at higher risk of vessel dissection or shredding.

    36:31 – Mahdi is put at ease when Dr. Albanna tells him that he has not sustained irreversible damage from his 1-month stint of taking Winstrol.

    37:13 – People can slow down the buildup in their arteries by exercising, eating well, and having regular checkups.

    38:06 – Athletes are prone to atrial fibrillation (A-fib) or excessive electrical activity in the heart, which manifests as quivers rather than beats of the heart and can lead to blood clots. He especially advises athletes to have diagnostic tests to determine if they have A-fib.

    43:02 – Walking 30 minutes per day and eating a handfulof raw nuts in the morning can reduce your risk of heart disease by more than 40%.

    44:19 – Dr. Albanna has a personal trainer who helps him stay on track and exercise different&

  • 041: Get a Grip How to Improve Your Arms: Mahdi and Liam Discuss the Key Tips to Building Forearm Strength, the Good and the Bad of Using Straps, and Plus-size Athletes

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:34 – Liam talks about his current goal of being lighter on his feet and ready to run, and how the past few weeks of doing so has changed his perspective on size and athletics.

    4:15 – He mentions specific genetic anomalies that are smaller than their teammates but incredibly talented.

    5:05 – Liam then goes on to talk about relative strength and understanding what a body should do.

    6:45 – Liam and Mahdi discuss the importance of the people you surround yourself with and the psychological impact this can have on your training.

    9:15 – Liam mentions the concept of putting the work in to find your areas of weakness and then committing to improving. 

    11:01 – He gets into the idea that different people have different perceptions of what their normal weight should be and they often compare themselves to others in this area, which is not helpful.

    12:30 – Mahdi transitions the conversation to grip strength, which he first started learning about during his time playing baseball but he has continued to emphasize in his own workouts. Liam suggests a few workouts to improve grip strength.

    15:53 – Liam then gives recommendations for techniques for improving grip strength such as palms facing up and mixed grips.

    17:28 – Mahdi chimes in to make sure that people understand the importance of alternating different grips so you are building strength equally. Liam says that he didn’t used to alternate, and he tore his bicep as a result.

    19:51 – After Mahdi tells listeners to ditch the straps during lifting of this nature, Liam says that there is a time and place for using straps if you know how to use them properly. Mahdi talks about his experience using straps and how he realized that he was not getting the most of his workout with them. 

    23:11 – Mahdi and Liam mention some more specific exercises that are good for grip strength, such as carries, curls, and pinch grip holds. Liam says to focus on simple things first by carrying heavy things or doing a high volume of light weights. 

    26:02 – Another simple way to work on grip strength is by wringing out a wet towel.



    Muggsy Bouges: http://www.espn.com/nba/player/_/id/73/muggsy-bogues

    Allen Iverson: http://www.espn.com/nba/player/stats/_/id/366/allen-iverson


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  • 040: Mohammed Ajialabi: Physical Therapist From Bahrain Discusses Breathing, Movement and his MMA Athletes' Therapy and Recovery

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:52 – Mohammed Ajialabi is a physical therapist who focuses on elite athletes. He became interested in helping people in this way by walking with his mom through treatment and physical therapy for her back pain. After studying in Jordan and working at hospitals and sports clubs in Bahrain for several years, he decided to open his own practice focused on his philosophies and ideals of helping people. They just celebrated the beginning of their third year in business.

    5:24 – Mohammed spends some time every year helping CrossFit and MMA athletes in Kuwait. He is able to treat several athletes at the same event because he doesn’t need any fancy equipment to relieve their pain.

    6:50 – He drops some of the names of prominent Kuwaiti athletes he has treated.

    7:25 – In Kuwait and Bahrain, the most common injuries Mohammed treats are back injuries due to the lack of core activation and inactive breathing that people have. 

    9:20 – In response to Mahdi’s question about how to activate the muscles that have been inactive all day at work, Mohammed says that the key is to move often and well during work, getting up from your desk every 30 minutes and doing activating stretches and be sure to prepare before working out.

    12:45 – Mohammed says specifically that people sitting at desks all day may have weak hip flexors because their hip flexors get shorter if they are not frequently activated which can cause them to weaken. 

    15:06 – Liam, Mahdi, and Mohammed talk about the benefits and drawbacks of wearing weight belts in certain situations.

    18:25 – Mohammed says that most pain is originated from having an unstable core. A stable core promotes good joint movement and breathing, so an unstable core leads to many problems.

    20:01 – Mahdi brings up dry needling in combination with corrective movements and Mohammed affirms that this combination is helpful for the body adjusting after injuries.

    21:42 – Mohammed provides his recommendations for effective core work: learn to breathe well, switch on the brain with repetitions of lighter exercises, and consciously try to create those neural pathways.

    24:50 – Liam and Mahdi talk about their experiences with controlling breathing, from playing baseball to during a session in the ice cold plunge pool.

    28:40 – Mohammed says that Liam’s method of breathing in the plunge pool is great and he provides a warmer and drier exercise for those who aren’t as hard core as Liam. Laying on your back, bend your knees, put both hands on your chest, and breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds, vacuuming in the stomach each time.

    31:38 – Mohammed talks about common injuries sustained by MMA fighters and the different technique he uses to help them with their breathing and increase their mobility.

    35:20 – In response to Mahdi’s observation that he feels great after doing chest fly exercises, Mohammed talks about the difference between passive and dynamic movements or stretches. 

    38:45 – Liam asks if there is benefit in seeing a physical therapist even if you are not hurt. Mohammed says that it is important to have someone experienced who can watch your posture and mobility to reduce your risk of injury. 

    40:57 – Mohammed emphasizes the importance of communication between the coach or trainer and the physical therapist.

    Mohammed Aljallabi: https://www.instagram.com/mjallabi/?hl=en
    Rubens Garcia Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rmotioncoach/

    Movement Physical Therapy: http://www.movementbh.com/

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  • 039: Mahdi and Meg Discuss: What to Expect When Starting a New Workout Routine or Getting Back to the Gym, Listener Q&A, Reviews, Common Misconceptions About Gym life

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    6:25 – The most crucial aspect of starting a gym routine is an honest assessment of where you currently are and where you want to be as a result of working out. Don’t focus on what a 20-year-old you could do, but take a step back and evaluate what is feasible for you and then set off to reach your goals.

    10:15 – Mahdi talks about the importance of having a gym buddy to make it easier to just get to the gym. Once you are there, it is easy to get to work.

    12:14 – The location of your gym could be a big factor for you. If driving across town is a deterrent for you, try to find a gym closer to your house or work that will make it more convenient to go.

    15:01 – Many people, especially in Kuwait, say that they don’t have time to go to the gym because their “free time” is for dewaniya. Mahdi and Meg want to encourage listeners to think about creating a diwaniya atmosphere at the gym instead of while playing video games or watching football. 

    20:12 – If it is intimidating to go to a new gym, find ways to build your confidence, such as taking group classes or hiring a personal trainer for a while. If you want to make sure you understand how certain machines work or what certain workouts involve, check out some YouTube videos ahead of time. 

    23:16 – Beginning a healthy lifestyle does not have to be drastic. Focus on your sleep, staying hydrated, taking opportunities to walk, do some bodyweight training, and look into cross-training activities like biking or swimming.

    29:00 – Mahdi and Meg weigh in on a listener question: Is it possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? They say that is definitely is, and the key is to do strength training and HIIT types of cardio. These will give you lean muscle mass and aid in fat burning.

    34:09 – Focusing on your abs is different than focusing on your core, and one is the key to total body stability. The core contains the spine, obliques, abs, and breathing muscles, and when this cylinder is strong, you open up so much power and strength.

    38:32 – Meg talks about some of her keys to total body wellness and fitness: resistance training and good nutrition, starting with real foods and good fats. Mahdi says that creatine works well with his body to aid in burning fat, but beyond that, he doesn’t recommend any kind of “fat burning” pills or supplements.

    42:26 – Some spices or foods that you can easily integrate into your daily diet and are known for being naturally fat burning are: cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander, raspberries, high protein items like eggs for breakfast, overnight oats, and fiber.

    49:05 – The first misconception that Mahdi and Meg address in this episode is: “lifting weights makes women bulky.” In fact, women do not have enough testosterone to truly “bulk up” without significant supplemental or dietary changes to that end. Weight lifting really just changes the shape of the body, and Mahdi adds that lifting dramatically increases your confidence level in the gym. It is important to realize that you might gain some weight as you build muscle in this way, but there are much better measurements to gauge your progress.

    55:22 – The next misconception is: “Results are fast.” It is helpful to know when going into a new workout routine that results could take several months or even a year, but with consistency and effort, you can achieve the results you want. Meg adds that many&


    ATHLEAN-X: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe0TLA0EsQbE-MjuHXevj2A

    Meg’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/guthmillermeg/
    Mind Pump: https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/

  • 038: Coach Saad Discusses Movement as a Cultural Issue in Kuwait vs France, Back Pain, Anterior Pelvic Tilt and Why 8,000+ steps per day may help you feel better

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    0:49 – Mahdi introduces Coach Saad.

    1:38 – Coach Saad describes his background as a boxing trainer in France before moving to Kuwait and getting into personal training.

    3:25 – Mahdi asks about the main differences that Saad notices between his clients in France and those in Kuwait.

    4:17 – Saad says that a lot of his Kuwaiti clients are overweight and need adjusted exercise plans that are not so hard on their joints.

    5:30 – Saad talks about the cultural problem of inactivity. Even kids in Kuwait are not getting into sports and their health is not really supported at school.

    7:03 – Saad advises parents to get their kids into some kind of activity such as swimming, judo, and running.

    9:24 – Saad says that one of the main issues with kids sitting so much during the day is that they are developing a constant slouch that will impact them throughout their whole life.

    10:31 – Saad talks about how to get started in correcting your posture and becoming more active.

    12:44 – The conversation then turns to improving your walking, running, and exercising technique and gait.

    13:25 – Mahdi mentions the Exos program that helps people unlearn bad behaviors through corrective exercises.

    14:18 – Saad mentions that correcting your form and technique is not the hardest thing to learn, but it does take the longest. Specifically benchpress and deadlift. He gives specific examples of how he helps his clients.

    18:00 – Saad says that the best way to help people is by telling them where they should feel everything so they can know immediately if they are doing it right.

    19:17 – Mahdi talks about the resurgence of deadlifts and squats with the popularity of CrossFit.

    21:20 – Saad talks about the hardest part of training not being the actual teaching of the techniques but convincing the clients of the importance of proper form.

    24:10 – Mahdi and Saad transition the conversation to talk about people who spend most of their days sitting at their desks and in their cars. Setting small challenges throughout the day to stay active can make all the difference.

    26:20 – Saad discusses the importance of stretching your hip flexors, and he will put some examples on his Instagram.

    27:30 – Saad and Mahdi give some good stretching examples.

    29:48 – Saad then talks about the causes of back pain such as anterior pelvic tilt.

    31:00 – Mahdi and Saad say that people often experience pain while working out after they have been inactive all day because they haven’t warmed up.

    33:36 – Mahdi asks about the benefits of strength training versus just walking or jogging.

    35:00 – Saad says that everyone should do basic strength training either at the gym or at home just to remain active. Walking should not be considered exercise because everyone should be getting 8,000+ steps per day.

    37:30 – Saad discusses the main differences he has noticed being a trainer in the Middle East. 

    45:29 – Saad says that being consistently active during the day will also boost your workout time and he emphasizes the importance of warming up and cooling down.

    46:45 – Saad talks about your capability of doubling your calorie burning every day just by reaching 8,000+ steps per day and he give some suggestions for doing so.

    49:00 – Mahdi emphasizes the benefit to both you and your kids when you take them outside to play at the end of the day.

    49:37 – Saad says that he has had so many clients tell him how much better they feel when they are traveling because they are actively exploring a new city.

    50:17 – Saad talks about his current project, which is continuing his education and helping his clients go from injury to strength.


    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saad_wt/ 

    EXOS: https://www.teamexos.com/

  • 037: Yalla Move Kuwait a Local Event on April 12, Celebrates Diversity in Movement and Showcases Local and Visiting Movement Practitioners in an Exciting Line up of Workshops.

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Yalla Move episode - Meg & Madhi

    What is Movement and how is it different than exercising? In this episode Meg and Madhi sit with the event organizers of Kuwait’s first ever movement culture festival to answer those questions and more. Yalla Move Kuwait celebrates diversity in movement and showcases local and visiting movement practitioners in an exciting line up of workshops. We discuss the inspiration and direction of this Not for Profit and volunteer driven festival. Yalla Move and The Project share their passions of different movement styles in Kuwait and it’s impact on the fitness community. This event is open for all to move, express, explore and play.  Funds raised will be donated the charity Masaka Kids Africana - listen to the episode for all info on how this charity connects to Kuwait, event ticket details, and much more! Grab your yoga May or head out to the park while you listen!

    Instagram: Yallamovekuwait


    Tags: Movement Culture, Fitness, Kuwait, Health Wellness, events, community 

  • 036: Lulwa Al Armali The Functional Nutritionist Tells All About Testosterone, Sleep, Fat Loss, Building Muscle and Overall Health

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:47 – Luwlwa, the Functional Nutritionist, joins Liam and Mahdi again today to discuss men’s hormones. Mahdi asks about how pheromones are related to hormones and Luwlwa shares about an experiment her class did at university.

    3:25 – Mahdi reveals his “secret” that he uses women’s Secret vanilla bean deodorant because it keeps him from sweating. Liam briefly considers revoking his man card, but they move on when Luwlwa says that some men get botox or detox their arm pits to reduce sweating.

    5:13 – Mahdi has noticed in the Middle East that men are softer and have more of a female build than elsewhere in the world and he thinks it is as a result of lower testosterone. Luwlwa confirms Mahdi’s suspicions and says that men are developing more female facial features as well.

    7:06 – Kuwait was recently listed as the #2 most toxic country in the world, and while this is a big factor in hormone production, Luwlwa says that it also has to do with the fact that Kuwait is not as health-conscious in general. 

    10:22 – In addition to this constant exposure to toxicity, these health choices are causing men in Kuwait to convert testosterone to estrogen which causes them to store fat in areas where women would.

    13:21 – Mahdi asks the question that many men have probably wondered if they have ever dabbled in taking steroids: does taking steroids really cause your gonads to shrink up? Luwlwa confirms that taking testosterone replacement drugs will cause your body to stop producing testosterone, and it could have a lasting effect even after men aren’t taking steroids anymore.

    15:31 – Toxins such as BPA can be endocrine disruptors and should be avoided. BPA is used to make plastic remain rigid, and it is released when the plastic is heated up; specifically, when you are microwaving your leftovers. When ingested, BPA acts as estrogen and can be harmful to the body. Another unexpected source of BPA is receipts.

    18:08 – Mahdi and Luwlwa provide a summary of cortisol, its purposes, and its impacts on the body over a long period of time. Liam summarizes constant cortisol production to being in “sport mode” in your car all the time.

    23:13 – Luwlwa asks Mahdi and Liam about their sleeping patterns and says that if you have healthy cortisol levels, you should not have to wake up at all during the night, even to go to the bathroom. If you do not have deep sleep like this, you are probably sleep deprived.

    25:58 – Mahdi tells of his experience tracking his sleep with a smart band.

    27:00 – Luwlwa talks about REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and the importance of several REM cycles every night for the proper production of testosterone. One of the best ways to improve your sleep environment is to reduce your exposure to blue light for 1-2 hours before going to bed, either by not looking at screens or by using a blue light reducing app on your phone or computer.

    28:27 – In response to Mahdi’s question about how working out at night affects sleep, Luwlwa says that working out increases your cortisol levels which is not conducive to restful sleep. She recommends taking thianine after a workout at night to combat high cortisol levels or using a meditation app like Headspace. 

    30:05 – In addition to the Headspace app, Luwlwa recommends diaphragmatic breathing and deep stretching to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and optimize sleep.

    31:45 – Although a lot of people think that taking a hot bath or shower would be relaxing in preparation for going to sleep, the opposite is actually true. While a hot shower causes the heart rate to rise, a cold shower slows the heart rate and activates the parasympathetic nervous system instead.

    34:40 – When short-term stress turns into prolonged stress, this changes the cortisol levels in the body which can have drastic effects on the brain and even cause damage that would require regeneration. Mahdi interjects&

  • 035: The Psychology of Eating Disorders with Fatma Al-Qadfan Drama Therapist

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:57 – Fatma Al-Qadfan is a drama therapist, which integrates psychology with the theater arts as a modality of counseling. She primarily works with adolescents and adults.

    3:57 – Fatma and Mahdi attended the American University of Kuwait together, where she was more interested in sociology and theater than psychology, but her interest in psychology developed a few years after graduation. She saw a documentary called “12 Angry Lebanese” that opened her eyes to the possibilities of drama and psychology, and her life trajectory was forever changed.

    6:00 – She distinguishes between practices that are therapeutic (dealing with the symptoms) and those that are therapy (dealing with the root cause). 

    8:16 – There is a spectrum of behaviors and beliefs when it comes to eating disorders. On one end is “intuitive eating” which is healthy, towards the middle is “disordered eating” which is characterized by guilt-motivated decisions, and on the other end is “diagnosed eating disorders” such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

    10:30 – Fatma emphasizes that eating disorders are very serious because they can cause the organs to shut down and even cause death. Mahdi shares about one of his friends whose eating disorder caused her to be hospitalized.

    13:10 – It is difficult to determine or judge if someone has an eating disorder because it is a set of behaviors and thoughts more than anything externally visible. It is important to always be aware of your own cues and not be influenced by the praise or disapproval of others.

    16:15 – Liam presents a relevant scenario about the pressures of eating unhealthy foods at a family gathering, which spurs on a lengthy conversation bordering on a debate with Fatma about the best way to handle situations like this. 

    20:58 – Liam, Mahdi, and Fatma agree that when you decide not to eat the food at a family gathering, it is problematic to the relationships involved.

    23:59 – Fatma continues the conversation by explaining that being unwilling to compromise or appease the other party, this is a type of disordered eating. This could be considered orthorexia.

    24:43 – Mahdi brings up the topic of nutrition, and Fatma talks about the importance of coaches in the pursuit of intuitive eating. Additionally, it is a healthy practice to check in with yourself along the way to see what you really want.

    32:36 – Fatma strives to debunk the “myth” of addiction to sugar and talks about the pleasure center of the brain.

    36:55 – Fatma provides 3 helpful questions for listeners to consider: (1) Was there a time when you told yourself no (food item)? (2) What does (food item) mean to you? (3) Is your fear of (food item) stemming from an idea? These questions touch on the physical, mental, and emotional restrictions people place on themselves.

    40:01 – Fatma typically works one-on-one with clients or in group settings to work through their personal histories and family dynamics. These workshops and sessions vary, but can include elements of roleplay or writing plays, letters, or songs.

    47:01 – Fatma shares her perspective on social media and how she has developed a healthier relationship with herself by curating the people she follows to be more diverse and positive. One social justice movement she specifically mentioned was Health at Every Size. 

    52:20 – Fatma echoes the common saying that comparison is the thief of joy on social media. Liam asks about people who need motivation – could it be helpful to them to follow aspirational accounts? Fatma agrees but says that it depends on the person.

    57:06 – Liam brings up another hot button topic: in the context of a job interview, could the hiring manager assume that a lean and toned person is more disciplined than someone who appears to be less physically active? Fatma says that this would be discrimination and the application of an implicit bias. Liam wo

  • 034: Diastasis Recti (Ab Separation ) and how to Overcome it, Competing and Training for Health, Coaching and Developing Athletes with Haya Al-Sharhan

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Haya Al-Sharhan, a competitive CrossFit athlete and creator of “MomFit” program is back on the show to discuss the recent change in direction of the CrossFit Open and the new programs she’s creating for women through and after pregnancy. Haya and Mahdi share the best advice they received from a coach when struggling to find the hectic balance of parenting, fitness, and work and support for those with a goal of losing weight and getting healthier.



  • 033: البحث عن النجاح من خلال عالم "الكروس فت" مع بدر الخميس Bader Al Khamees Finding Success Through Elite Training (English and Arabic)

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:41 – Mahdi explains how he first met Liam and what made them want to work together on this podcast.

    3:28 – Bader’s interest in fitness began when he was in high school and he aspired to be like the guys in the Arabic World of Sports magazine. He saved up to purchase himself some home gym equipment because he was not old enough to go to the gyms in Kuwait and he practiced the exercises from the magazine. Mahdi describes how he remembers gyms being at that time: filled with old school bodybuilders.

    6:25 – When Bader was 17 ½, he asked the manager at a local gym if he could work out there even though he wasn’t 18, and that was when he really started weight lifting seriously and even getting into body building.

    9:33 – Several years later, one of Bader’s friends asked him why he hadn’t gotten into CrossFit and suggested that they go to his gym so Bader could see what it was like. After that first workout, Bader got the passion for CrossFit and he has been involved ever since. His previous objections about the risk of injury came to rest when he realized that smart programming can reduce injury as much as anything else.

    13:48 – Now a few years into CrossFit, Bader recognizes the benefits of the mobility and flexibility that are developed through CrossFit and the awareness of how the body is supposed to function during certain workouts. Mahdi mentions the fact that people do or don’t do things based on the perception quite often; for example, elite bodybuilders have been doing deadlifts and squats for a long time, but mainstream athletes had refrained until recently because of their fear of injury. Liam agrees that people find reasons not to do things and listen to the recommendations of those around them.

    16:27 – In November 2018, Bader competed in the Battle of the East, and he talks about his training regimen leading up to that competition as well as difficulties that he was having with his mobility. In June 2016, he joined Icon Athlete, which really helped him get serious about his workouts. He then started taking courses as well as teaching some, becoming full participative with the culture and mindset.

    20:14 – Bader attended an Olympic weightlifting camp in Ukraine so that he could understand the “how” and “why” of bodybuilding exercises and become more effective for the benefit of himself and others.

    25:40 – From this experience, Bader became aware of some things he needed to adjust before the Battle of the East competition, but it mainly came down to stripping away the ego and putting in the work to improve. During that 6 month period, he took a 3 month break from weight lifting so he could focus on his technique, and it worked. He also worked on his gymnastics and strongman training during that time, which served him well.

    29:00 – Bader agrees with Mahdi and Liam that moving strongman objects is easy if you know the right way to do it, which was affirmed by the strongman course he took. Liam emphasizes the importance of using the right muscles, and Mahdi brings up the importance of using your body in the right way.

    32:29 – Bader talks about the practicality and functionality of strongman exercises in everyday life.

    34:20 – In terms of gymnastics, Bader has seen many people watch moves on YouTube and start doing them in their workouts without knowing if they are really doing them properly. This can do a lot of damage to the body, as well as doing the right exercises but not providing yourself with enough rest time. Bader has also taken a course in gymnastics, which has been very helpful to his CrossFit and other training.

    37:00 – In preparation for his competition, Bader focused on conditioning for the programming of the competition and did not try to build muscle. In the last few weeks before the event, he maintained his conditioning by doing more aerobic exercises than usual.

    40:41 – Bader had some mental and physical struggles b

  • 032: Kuwait Moms Guide and Stop Crying Studios ; How to Get Yourself and Your Kids More Active

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    2:18 – Jamie talks about how the Kuwait Moms Guide started and how it has unexpectedly grown.

    3:04 – Jon P tells the story of the creation of Stop Crying Studios and his philosophy of approaching every client differently based on their background and the best way to motivate them.

    5:34 – Jamie says that it is necessary to use a similar approach in parenting and coaching kids. By having a positive vibe but still encouraging them to work hard, as well as demonstrating a healthy lifestyle by doing activities together, parents can help their kids in all aspects of life.

    8:48 – Jon uses different modalities such as HIIT, strength training, and injury rehabilitation depending on the needs and preferences of the client. With beginners, he tries to distract the clients from the actual number of sets and reps in their workout.

    10:39 – Jamie’s husband started training with Jon in fall 2018, and after Jamie injured her hip and was unable to run as she had been doing, her husband recommended that she try a session with Jon. Initially, she was intimidated because she had never been in a workout setting like that, but now she is consistently going, even bringing her daughters with her on Saturdays.

    13:06 – Mahdi asks how Jamie handles social media exposure with her daughters, focusing on health more than image. Jamie’s daughters are 7 and 10 years old, so they do not have access to social media yet and she limits their other media exposure as well. She never talks with them about diets, losing weight, or looks, rather focusing on health and being active.

    16:50 – Jon discusses how he coaches children by encouraging them and treating everyone as they need to be treated.

    17:40 – Jamie keeps her daughters active with gymnastics 2 days per week, knitting, unstructured play time, and plenty of exploring as a family.

    20:26 – Jon’s favorite type of client is open-minded, willing to listen to Jon’s recommendations. Liam says that his least favorite type of client is the one that says “I can’t do that” when they really mean “I won’t do that.” Jamie emphasizes that it was helpful for her to make her workouts digestible.

    25:13 – Jamie says that a lot of parents don’t realize that they impact their kids by what they do and what they say. Kids are learning how to live from their parents and your behavior is shaping their mindset towards all of life. Liam says that this dynamic is the same in the client/trainer relationship as well.

    27:40 – Jamie talks about nutrition being the most challenging aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Mahdi reiterates that while it is difficult to eat completely clean, it is important to source your food and come up with a long-term plan you can live with. 

    29:36 – Jamie then shares the difficulty of being consistent in working out, but her commitment to train with Jon twice per week until she can manage more.

    30:55 – She says that she has noticed a big difference in her energy level, stress management, and overall health since she started working out.

    32:42 – Jon talks about the misconceptions of training and trainers on social media. So many people are posting unrealistic images and exercises that are just ploys to get more followers, but these posts build up impractical expectations for the Average Joe about what they can do. Jamie says that social media is a good way to create positive connections, but there is also an expectation that every post has to be perfect.

    37:15 – Mahdi believes in posting your failures and just real-life events that you feel like posting. Your social media feed does not have to be curated and groomed to please anyone.

    38:59 – Jon says that if you have any inclination to get more active, you should reach out to a close friend or family member who is active and ask them to help you get started. This accountability can make all the difference in you being able to stick with it.

  • 031: Pilates Expert Catherine Klaffer Breaks Down How Pilates Can Make You a Better Athlete and Enhance your Body and mind

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:41 – Catherine started ballet at age 9, but had to stop after about 10 years due to an accident. She then became involved in aerobics which led her into gym training, where she began training for and competing in fitness figure competitions. There is immense pressure in that sport to use performance enhancing drugs, but she never did. Instead, she committed wholeheartedly to body shaping through nutrition, diet, and exercise. Catherine is now a Pilates instructor at ARC.

    7:40 – Catherine describes her diet leading up to fitness figure competitions.

    9:34 – She is passionate about Pilates because of her experience trying other modalities and her recognition of the merits and benefits that Pilates provides over other workouts. She specifically trains her clients in studio Pilates, which uses various apparatus to aid in the training.

    12:25 – Mahdi asks if there is any relationship between Pilates and CrossFit, and Catherine describes what Pilates is and what it is not.

    14:18 – Pilates was created in 1902 by Joseph Pilates as a series of corrective exercises that focus the body, mind, and spirit, which he called “Contrology”. It was originally intended to be a workout for men to be able to control their breathing, and it had its most notable initial results in 1914 at the Isle of Man POW camp. In 1916, Joseph Pilates opened up a studio in New York City that mainly served dancers and artists. Originally, regular participants in Pilates knew the specific order of exercises and did their workout with very little interaction with each other or the instructor. 

    20:31 – Mahdi mentions that Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek recovered from a serious injury using Pilates, so he wonders about its integration with sports. Catherine explains that “how you stand is how you land” and that Pilates helps strengthen the muscles that keep the skeleton upright using specific tension. She also explains that strengthening the smaller muscles will in turn strengthen the larger muscles, improving the body’s resiliency.

    24:16 – Liam has been doing a lot of accessory work lately, and he has seen what Catherine is describing in his own life. 

    27:02 – In response to Mahdi’s question about how Pilates could make him a better athlete or give him a competitive advantage, Catherine explains that Pilates creates a balance where there is otherwise an imbalance. For instance, if you are right-handed, it is likely that the muscles on your left side are weaker and less developed, so Pilates would help both sides become equally stronger. 

    29:07 – Liam talks about the benefit that he has noticed from his accessory work and lifting in a different plane of motion.

    30:08 – While the Pilates classes at ARC are only for women, Catherine says that Fawzia has clinical Pilates that is open to men.

    32:20 – One of the biggest misconceptions about Pilates is that it is only for healthy and strong people. In fact, anyone and everyone can benefit from Pilates, no matter your age or physical condition. Mahdi agrees, saying that his aunt has been doing Pilates and has made great progress in reducing neck pain.

    36:27 – Catherine describes the perfect programming for an athlete as well-structured, including Pilates, cardio, yoga, and functional exercises. She recommends Pilates 3 times per week and never in the same day as another workout. There are group classes as well as private sessions available depending on your needs.

    39:57 – Mahdi asks about specific Pilates exercises that he could inject into his other workouts, and Catherine says that after a private session, the instructor will be able to give you a few key exercises that will be beneficial for you.

    42:05 – Catherine says that there aren’t any apps she could recommend, but she is a fan of Pilatesology.com and Pilatesanytime.com. 

    44:25 – Liam says that he plans to try Pilates so he can know more&

  • 030: Kuwaiti Super Star Fahad Al Zaid talks about training, recovery , work ethic and how to be successful in your sport

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

    Time Stamps:

    1:01 – Fahad’s dad joins Mahdi first to talk about the five years since Fahad started playing baseball, at age 10. During a tournament early on, Fahad’s parents realized that he would be a standout player if they invested in his training, so Fahad and his dad have spent the past few summers in the States learning from professional coaches.

    3:05 – Fahad’s parents have always believed in the talents of their 2 daughters and 2 sons, and they have provided them with every opportunity to succeed.

    5:08 – Fahad’s dad talks about parents in Kuwait who put too much emphasis on their children’s studies and how the world could be a richer place if these kids were able to cultivate their talents.

    7:39 – Mahdi first met Fahad when he was about 13, and he immediately recognized his talent. Fahad’s dad says that their family is committed to helping Fahad pursue his dreams by recording every second of his training, practices, and games and potentially moving to the States for him to go to a Division 1 college.

    10:47 – Next, Fahad joins the conversation and describes his love for the game and commitment to conditioning, driven by the support of his family and community. He reiterates what his father said about the benefits of focusing on school and sports together, which helps him with time management.

    13:04 – To parents who hold their children back from extracurricular activities, Fahad says that kids should be able to study earlier so they can play.

    14:05 – Fahad’s typical training session includes stretching, running laps, pitching, batting, fielding, and long toss.

    14:46 – His favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees, and he likes Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

    15:00 – In order to stay healthy and fit, he uses bands, ice, and heat for recovery and he is working on improving his strength through weight lifting, ropes, and long toss.

    16:39 – Fahad talks about the improvements he has been able to make in his batting game thanks to the batting cage and pitching machines that his parents have purchased for him to have at home.

    18:21 – In 5 years, Fahad hopes to be signing with a Division 1 team or with the MLB. He currently tops out at 81 mph pitching and 85 mph batting.

    19:17 – Fahad describes his intensive summers in the States as “all business” and filled with ups and downs, but filled with competition that is unparalleled in Kuwait.

    20:39 – He is looking at colleges in Florida, Indiana, and Kentucky, and Mahdi mentions that he has been throwing his name out there to some of his buddies of influence in the States.

    22:13 – Fahad’s favorite pitch to throw is a strike, of course, but when pressed about it, he would say a fastball.

    22:35 – Asked about his favorite training modality, Fahad says that he focuses on the basics of leg strength, crossover, core strength, and using ropes to build up his arm strength.

    24:34 – At school, he doesn’t show off or school his classmates, but helps them with their own fitness goals.

    25:00 – Since he got serious about baseball, Fahad has lost 35-40 kilos by cutting down his portion sizes and training for 3 hours a day.

    26:10 – Fahad’s advice to other kids who want to get serious about athletics is to get off of Fortnite, get out there and do something. 

    26:35 – Fahad gives a shoutout to Coach Salvatore and Coach Aaron Hernandez who have been integral in his growth as a player. He also reiterates that baseball is a game of failure, so you are continually given areas of improvement.


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  • 029: The Truth About PMS with Lulwa Al Armali "The Functional Nutritionist" Meg and Mahdi

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar


    On this episode of the Project Kuwait podcast, we are joined again by Luwlwa, the Functional Nutritionist, who is broaching a taboo topic. Luwlwa and Meg share their expertise on the female cycle and hormones as well as learning how to have a healthy relationship with your period.

    Time Stamps:

    1:10 – People don’t typically talk about PMS, PCOS, and hormones in females, especially in Kuwait. Mahdi and Meg are joined by Luwlwa, the Functional Nutritionist, again to discuss these taboo topics. 

    2:24 – Recently, Luwlwa posted something on her Instagram regarding changing her eating habits in preparation for her period coming soon, and she was amazed at the supportive responses as well as the hostile ones.

    3:31 – Meg brings up the point that there are purposes of the female cycle beyond childbearing.

    4:04 – Luwlwa provides a detailed background on the hormones present in women: estrogen, progesterone, and male hormones like testosterone. There are defined pathways for these hormones to break down in the body, and the way the body metabolizes them can have much broader impacts than most people are aware of.

    6:08 – Mahdi asks about the common assumption that hormones make you gain weight. Luwlwa says that imbalanced in way the hormones are metabolized can lead to water weight gain, irritability, aggression, heavy bleeding, and hair growth or loss. The best way to learn about these imbalances is through blood or urine testing.

    7:52 – Meg points out that the body needs balance to function properly, and things such as food or stress can affect this balance.

    9:05 – Mahdi chimes in with “men’s interpretation” of PMS: back off and give the women whatever they want.

    10:06 – Luwlwa describes the 28-day cycle and the difficulty that can come from doing a single test to determine if there is a problem because of the length of the cycle. Through cycle mapping, women can begin to understand the relationship that their cycle and hormones have with external variables.

    11:35 – She then addresses the misconception that periods are painful, unpredictable, and mysterious by explaining that extreme pain or heavy bleeding can indicate a vitamin or nutrition imbalance.

    13:11 – Meg says that most people don’t understand their cycle because sex ed is usually too vague and high schoolers don’t want to know about it. In fact, as a high school athlete, Meg saw her period as a nuisance and she tried to avoid having it.

    14:12 – Luwlwa describes the ideal diet for women who are experiencing PMS: anti-inflammatory foods and limited gluten and dairy. Symptoms of PMS include anger, anxiety, cramping, headaches, and mood swings.

    16:02 – Mahdi brings up something he has heard about the need to avoid nightshade vegetables. Luwlwa says that if you aren’t sure if they have a negative effect on you, cut them out for 3-6 weeks and then reintroduce them to confirm.

    17:15 – Meg and Luwlwa agree that it is counterproductive when men assume that women are having PMS if they are emotional or aggressive, and it is important for women to be self-aware enough to know if they are experiencing PMS or if they are just being especially moody.

    19:00 – Luwlwa shares that many of the symptoms of PMS can be caused by the drop in blood sugar that occurs with the fluctuation of progesterone in the week leading up to a woman’s period. Just as when they are otherwise “hangry”, this can be amended by eating smaller and more frequent meals to regulate the blood sugar.

    21:01 – This backs up the claim that women crave chocolate when they are PMSing – this is caused by blood sugar drops and drops in serotonin. Meg says that this is why women crave carbs.

    24:00 – Meg emphasizes that it is important to know where you are in your cycle.

    25:02 – Luwlwa and Meg discuss the best time to do strength training during your cycle. Meg says that Days 1-14 are your best days for p

  • 028:Kuwait Scorpions Rugby Club

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar

     Time Stamps:

    1:48 – The Kuwait Scorpions rugby team started in 1946 as a way for British oilfield workers to compete against British military officers.

    2:40 – Our guests today are Aziz, the chairman of the Scorpions Rugby Club, and Hussein, the manager of the Rugby Club. They both play and work for the team administratively.

    3:10 – Kuwait paved the way for the establishment of the GCC, which now includes teams in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Understandably, there are some logistical challenges in traveling from country to country to compete, but these teams are all a part of Asia Rugby and compete frequently.

    5:17 – Since the tradition of playing rugby in Kuwait began with engineers and workers playing against the military, there are still occasional games against British and American military teams.

    6:37 – Mahdi compares Kuwait rugby to Kuwait baseball in that they were both trailblazers that have been slow to develop.

    6:48 – The Scorpions’ organization has programs for children ages 3 and up, adult teams for competition, and veteran teams for ages 35+. The majority of those on the competitive teams are in their 20s or 30s, and the organization is known to represent all nationalities due to the high expat population.

    10:51 – The rugby club aims to teach the game to different age groups of different experience levels, but since Kuwait is often a transitional place, it is difficult to recruit players who will stick around to grow with the team.

    14:22 – The Kuwait Oil Company recently upgraded the rugby pitch with artificial turf and created a high-quality facility for the Scorpions’ use, which has enhanced the atmosphere. There are shops and restaurants in the area, so rugby has become a family-friendly activity.

    18:32 – Liam talks about his experience playing rugby in England.

    20:06 – The Scorpions have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts as well as a website, and they have noticed that most Kuwaitis engage with them on Instagram most. Since they are an amateur team, they do not have a budget for advertising, so social media is their primary promotion source.

    22:57 – The female Scorpions rugby team practices from 5-7pm on Mondays and the men practice from 7-9pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. During the preseason, they focus on fitness by doing HIIT workouts, and once the season starts in September, they shift to working on their skills through body weight and anaerobic exercises. They have also been using Titan sensor GPS trackers that allow them to train for peak performance.

    26:30 – They would like to acquire a scrum machine and some sleds, but there is not currently a budget for those types of things. Hopefully, they will be able to have someone in Kuwait make one rather than having to import. The KOC might have some budget opening up for the team in the future.

    30:45 – In March, the KOC is hosting a sports day with rugby, CrossFit, hockey, and soccer, as well as vendors to encourage the community to get active. Liam chimes in that this is going to be a great event and he hopes that the ministries will continue to pursue sponsoring events like this.

    32:48 – Mahdi and Liam talk about the importance to the community of kids getting more active and being involved in sports.

    33:48 – The rugby club is working on creating more programs that will encourage people to learn more about rugby and use it as a way to get active. They are currently hosting a flag rugby league that will have its final matches during the March Sports Festival.

    36:50 – Aziz and Hussein talk about the difficulty they have had finding venues for mixed sports and finding competition for the female team except for when Kuwait hosts other teams.

    38:08 – They discuss the lack of knowledge and expertise in Kuwait, especially finding qualified coaches and referees. The root cause of this is the cost involved and the lack of “entertain

  • 027: Olympian Faye Sultan describes her journey to the Olympics

    The Project: Kuwait starstarstarstarstar


    On this episode of the Project Kuwait podcast, Mahdi, Meg, and Liam are honored to interview Faye Sultan, a Kuwaiti Olympic swimmer in the 2012 and 2016 Games. Faye shares with listeners about her journey as a swimmer and the importance of being involved in athletics and studies in a good balance. She is an advocate for female athletes and she wants to see more people in Kuwait be active.


    Time Stamps:

    1:39 – Faye describes her journey towards becoming an Olympic swimmer. She started swimming competitively at age 8 (when her parents had to bribe her with Kit Kats) and she joined Elite Swim Team a couple of years later. On this team, she was introduced to reliable and established workouts which propelled her to the next level.

    4:48 – She really had a proclivity towards the water, but at times it was a love/hate relationship.

    5:37 – Meg talks about her own experience with beginning swimming at age 5 and having to choose to commit to swimming over other sports at age 12. What stands out to her looking back is the incredible time commitment that swimming required.

    6:18 – Faye went to the States for college, where her swimming experience was very different than her time in Kuwait. Because of the remoteness of her college, she was able to focus entirely on being a student athlete.

    7:44 – Faye provides some background on her family and asserts that swimming was more grueling than the tennis and basketball that her brothers chose to pursue. She typically trained from 5:00-6:45am, went to school, and was back in the pool by 2:30pm for another training session before going to bed at 8:00pm and starting all over. She credits the support of her family for her success and ability to train as much as she could.

    11:13 – Meg brings up the difficulty finding other girls to compete against.

    11:36 – Faye acknowledges that she did suffer from a lack of competition until she went to college.

    13:04 – Mahdi asks Faye how she dealt with negative feedback and backlash to her competitiveness.

    13:29 – Faye says that most people were supportive, but she just didn’t pay attention to those who weren’t.

    14:33 – Faye talks about leading the way for female athletes with humility and building awareness about female athletes in general.

    15:43 – Faye describes the lack of funding from the government or other sources until she was on the Olympic team. Her parents solely funded her training for the years leading up to then.

    16:40 – Mahdi says that even though there is so much raw talent in Kuwait, many parents make their children focus on school over sports, so very few make it to elite levels of competition.

    17:49 – Faye asserts that sports can save kids’ lives. There are so many applicable lessons learned through athletics, and it teaches kids about the importance of commitment and balance.

    18:27 – Meg and Faye describe the lessons learned including discipline and working hard towards goals.

    20:02 – Faye outlines common injuries that can occur during competitive swimming, even though it is not an impact sport. She advocates for plenty of warming up and stretching before a workout and then consistently using ice after a swim. She also says that athletes should be smart and know their bodies, not pushing too hard but also continuing to work out unaffected areas even when they’ve sustained an injury.

    22:27 – Liam asks about Faye’s workout routine and if she ever works out in a gym. Faye typically worked out with weights 3 times per week and did dry land workouts 2 times per week in college. 

    24:40 – In college, Faye did 2 workouts per day that were 2-2.5 hours each, and in Kuwait she did 2 workouts of 1.5-2 hours per day. She discusses the differences that she noticed between her workouts in the States and in Kuwait.

    26:55 – Though she isn’t currently competing, she is still staying fit and active through pilates and a