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The Man who made the Devil’s Circuit

Protima Tiwary meets Adnan Adeeb, the Devil Slayer, the man behind the toughest obstacle course, the Devil’s Circuit.

As India’s toughest obstacle race makes its way across the country, we caught up with the man spearheading the entire movement as he motivates every participant across India. Finisher Magazine in conversation with Adnan Adeeb, founder of Devils Circuit, India.

What do you prefer- life before or after Devils Circuit?

I spent 19 years in the corporate world, travelling the world as the sales manager for a global IT firm. I enjoyed the security.  Today, life is different. I, along with my team, am responsible to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for runners. Our emotional investment in what we do today is helping us grow our tribe. Regular folks from across fitness spectrums walk over to us after the event to simply express their appreciation and to say ‘thank you’ for giving them the best Sunday of their lives, and it feels amazing to be able to create that kind of impact, and is worth all the effort we put into building each season. Yes, life is definitely more exciting now.

What inspired you to conceptualise Devils Circuit?

In 2011, we saw a huge potential in the space of amateur sports. We also noticed the audience shift from “I will just watch this” to “Let’s try this, let’s be a part of this!”

At Volano Entertainment, we wanted to be at the forefront of this revolution and felt that it was the right time, in 2011, to create India’s coolest, toughest, and largest participative disruptive sports property. With that thought, we introduced Obstacle Running to India in the Devils Circuit. Our first mover’s advantage, combined with constant ongoing innovation, has helped us reach out to millions of people across 8 cities and we continue to harbour thoughts of expanding to more.

What do you aim to achieve with Devil’s Circuit?

I simply want to inspire people. I think there is a huge disservice we do to ourselves and our loved ones when we take our health and fitness lightly. With Devils Circuit, I want participants and spectators alike, to think about life choices, their fitness quotient and give them a benchmark that helps measure their ongoing progress. We want people to understand that formats such as the Devils Circuit give you an idea of how much fun you can have through sports, by being active and being outdoors- it also allows for individuals to set their own goals on how to get stronger, fitter or simply more active through a unique running format.

What keeps you motivated to continue building this community around Devil’s Circuit every year? 

Each member of the tribe of DevilSlayers motivates me to keep making the property bigger and better. The individuals who combat their own issues and come to Devils Circuit are incredible. We have had participation from specially abled people, aged people, grandparents, people from the armed forces, people who have painstakingly fought their weight-related issues to transform themselves, and a lot many more who all have their own stories. All of these motivate me to continue serving this community and looking for ways to make the experience of every single participant exceptional.

What are your thoughts about the fitness industry in India?  

The fitness industry in India is on a huge growth trajectory. I feel the potential of expansion is massive, there is a definite drive both at an individual as well as a corporate level towards a healthier lifestyle that is unprecedented. This is a very exciting time to be a part of this industry and in the coming years, we will see a lot of innovation. If I look at the western world, the kind of gyms, studios, fitness centres that exist is incredible. It is up to us to constantly bring these avenues to our shores. With this in mind, we are in the process of launching our own studios in the coming months.

Do you try all the obstacles? What’s your favourite one? Least favourite? 

Yes, absolutely! I am on my own fitness journey too and I am the fittest I have ever been in my life.  My favourite obstacle is the Brain Freeze. This is the last obstacle on the course where we have participants come down a wet slide into 15 tonnes of ice cubes. It’s a fantastic way to end the race, gives your muscles a great cooling and gives you an organic high which we have also translated into our war cry #Booyah!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

 

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Devil’s Circuit Tests Your Mind Like Never Before

Protima Tiwary just completed the toughest obstacle course, the Devil’s circuit and she shares her journey here.

As of 2019, I have been going to the gym for over a year now. Before that, I used to be a runner for almost 2 years, easily clocking in 7 km 4 times a week. I had run a handful of marathons to test my stamina and focus, but I really tested my strength? In hindsight, I feel the answer to this is no because what I did on 20th January 2019 beat all other tests that I had ever taken. This was the day I successfully completed 13 out of 15 obstacles in India’s toughest obstacle race, the Devil’s Circuit.

When I had seen the race registration details in 2018, I gave myself some time to think about it before signing up. Basically what I did was give myself enough time to lose focus and let fear take over my mind, because I did not sign up for the race last year, giving myself the reason that I could never do this. This time around things were different because I signed up without really thinking about what was going to happen. All that I knew was that I had to train and train hard. I had to see if all that gym, diet, discipline and routine was of any good. I signed up knowing this would be the ultimate test of all that I had worked from over the last few years.

After having suffered an injury in October 2017, getting back to the gym in April 2018 had been an intimidating task. I was back to lifting 5 kgs and struggling to maintain form. But over the months I slowly built strength and felt stronger than I ever had before. Signing up for the Devils Circuit required just a few rearrangements in the training plan, with a shift in focus to upper body workouts. I started 2018 with the ability to do zero pull-ups, ended it with the ability to 4 (even 5) at a stretch.

I will be honest, I didn’t let myself think about the fact that I was taking part in India’s toughest obstacle race, because I am aware of what fear does to me. I have lived a large part of my life being anxious and scared of things. This time I wanted to do things differently. The only time I actually gave a thought to the obstacles was when I was a few metres away from them. This in itself is such great progress! Working out trained my mind too, something I realised as I stayed focused on performance.

I balanced myself 15 feet high on a bar

The first obstacle required us to climb 15 feet high and then climb back down. It looked easy from the spectator stand, but I understood the intensity of this obstacle when I was halfway up the actual obstacle!  Going up on top and throwing one leg over the pole to shift your side, and then climbing back down requires a change in your centre of gravity. When this happens 15 feet high up in the air with nothing but your core to keep you stable, and that you happen to be scared of heights… Well, you know how it goes. Panic almost got the better of me. Before I threw my leg over to the other side, I wanted to shut my eyes and cry. I looked down at the mattress 15 feet below me. I said to myself- look, if you fall, you fall 15 feet on to that. You won’t get hurt but it’s better to be in control than give up. By reflex, I tightened my core and threw my leg over the pole at the top. I climbed down, happy at my performance, and jumped the last 6 feet. I ran a couple of meters before turning back to look at the obstacle and cursed loudly in celebration.

After this initial shock and adrenaline rush, I crossed the next couple of hurdles only because I had to. I mean there was no other way about it.

I froze in fear

I would have said no to the fourth one had it not been for people asking me to give it one try. This required you to jump up, hold onto a bar, pull yourself up and roll over to land on top of the obstacle. All of this was happening 12 feet in the air. Not like I had some great core strength or balance or even upper body strength to balance, but I jumped up, had a little support given to me on the back, and before I knew it I was putting my leg on the bar and rolling over to land on top. I celebrated this moment by standing there and just enjoying the view, but I also think I went wrong in doing this because I ended up looking down, got scared of the height, and literally froze on top of the obstacle for a couple of minutes. The height was intimidating.  This time there was no soft mattress to cushion my fall. If I fell, I fell 12 feet on to the ground. It took me 5 minutes to climb down because I was frozen stiff with fear. Once down I ran without looking back.

I crossed monkey bars and hanging tires, only thinking about three things: core conditioning, the centre of gravity and the fact that I had to do the obstacles because there really was no other way out of it.

My favourite obstacles were the ones in water, mostly because I love water and hate heights, which basically meant it was love versus fear for me. I crawled through trenches and did muscle ups in water without much of a problem, plus my body felt more at ease doing these movements.

I conquered a childhood fear  

I am super proud of one particular obstacle- this required us to climb a height of 10 feet and jump into the water which was 4ft deep. As a child, I have been trained to be a swimmer, but one thing they couldn’t get me to do was jump into the pool (even if it meant from the deck of the pool.) While I was climbing onto the top of this particular obstacle, I told myself “ Nope, you’re not waiting here to see what the height is like. You jump because there’s no other way to go back.” I cleared this within seconds. I landed in water prepared for all of it to come rushing up at me. I smiled while doing a muscle up to get out of this pool, proud of myself for having let love win.

I plunged into a pool filled with ice

The last obstacle deserves an elaborate mention only because I feel this is the star of all the obstacles at the race. Sliding into a pool filled with ice does not require anything other than strong grit and determination. Once again I told myself I wouldn’t stop at the top of this obstacle. I climbed up the inclined slope (slipping and getting back up twice) and immediately sat on top of the slide. I was three seconds away from the toughest, coldest slide of my life. When my body hit that ice cold water, the world stopped. My body was in shock. I remember the first emotion being panic. But once again I am extremely proud of the fact that the voice in my head asked me to keep moving, to swim through, do a muscle up even when I couldn’t feel my body and get out. This too took me a few seconds to clear. Once out, I started jogging on the spot to get some life back into my cold, numb body. I know it sounds like a simple slide into ice, but the three seconds before you hit the ice are the toughest- you either regret what you are doing, or are proud of what you have done. I wanted to celebrate all that I had achieved. Yes, I had successfully completed India’s toughest obstacle race.

Here’s what  I learnt

Honestly, this wasn’t only about physical fitness. I knew rope climbing & muscle ups required an immense amount of upper body strength, and I had prepared myself for it. There is still a long way to go, but it felt good to know that I could manage, and if life calls for some really extreme situations, I know I am physically fit enough to get out of them.

More importantly, this was about testing your mental strength. It is so easy to let panic overwhelm you, it is so easy to freeze, it is so easy to give up. I ended this race knowing that giving up or saying “I can’t do this didn’t occur to me even once” The amount of self-awareness and confidence this gives you is not something that I can put into words. All that I really know is that if your mind says you can achieve something, your body makes sure you will do it. This goes for fitness and in life. I woke up the next morning a little sore, a little bruised, but a lot happy.

If you asked me whether I would do this again, I won’t even think twice before saying YES.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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Here’s How You Prepare Yourself For An Obstacle Race

Protima Tiwary explores how you need to train if you ever want to tackle an obstacle race.

You have been running marathons this season, and in the excitement of the runner’s high you’ve signed up for an obstacle race. Great going! Now it’s time to train to give this your best shot. It goes without saying- an obstacle race is not the same as a marathon, so if you feel you can make your way to the finish line without training, you’d be mistaken.

Sprinting, climbing ropes, crossing over bars, jumping over pits – obstacle races are all about adventure and adrenaline. Training for them requires mental, emotional and physical training. Once you set your mind to train for this race, here’s what you need to do –

Running

Continue running, but this time change your training and incorporate speed runs, hill climbs, sprints and tempo runs in your routine. An obstacle race is all about the running experience and isn’t about how fast you run.

Cross-fit

Incorporate cross-fit moves into your training regime that will help you conquer the obstacles. Exercises like push ups pull ups, rows and bar hangs are recommended. This basically works on your upper body strength, often a weak spot for runners.

Plyometric training

This will help increase fast-twitch muscle development which will help you with jumps and lateral stops- starts. Exercises like springing with added weights pulling you back, box jumps and butt kicks are recommended.

Mobility Training

Concentrate on flexibility and mobility training that will give you a wider range of movement during the race. These exercises help open up all the joints and muscles that are stiff, thereby improving posture and circulation. Yoga is a fine example of flexibility training.

Strength training

This will help improve the strength in your body that will help you with posture and form, as well as help build power that is required to clear the obstacles. Exercises like bicep curls, shoulder press, chest press, farmers walks, squats and lunges are the basic exercise that can be done to increase strength.

Here is a 6-week schedule that will help you train adequately. Consult a coach or a trainer for specific exercise under this schedule.

Week 1 – Build Stamina

Practice different variations in running, climb stairs, go on brisk walks. Build stamina that will be needed on the race day. The fatigue can get overwhelming on the day of the race, so it is better to go well prepared. You don’t want to be out of breath on the first lap!

Also, start practising yoga.

Week 2- Build Strength

Improve your form and build strength that will be needed to clear the obstacles. Incorporate box jumps, climbing, jump squats, pull ups and push ups in your regime. Ideally, perform high repetitions of bodyweight exercises like pull ups, push ups, squats. This will help build muscular endurance and explosive power.

Week 3- Build Upper Body Strength

Focus on building upper body strength as this will be needed for all those rope climbs and bar crossing that need to be done. Incorporate exercises that focus on your upper body muscles- shoulder press, bench press, bicep curls, tricep dips, lat pull-downs are some primary examples.

Week 4 and 5- Practice

Your training towards the end of this plan will include all the exercise in a rotation. This is the period when you need to better your skill. Functional circuits are the best way to train. Set your pace. Set your goals. Prepare yourself mentally.

Week 6- Go slow

Build on strength, but make sure you do not over-do it! Ease up on the training in the last one week. Give your body a little rest by reducing the intensity of the workout. Eat well, sleep well.  Continue yoga.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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