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The Plug By SSS Ep. 3: Running, Training, Yoga, Kickboxing



2020 was a
real show-stopper. And not in a nice way obviously.  
But the good news is that things are finally starting to look up.

After months of waiting, we are extremely delighted to announce the return of THE PLUG series!
We are back and bigger than before. Technically longer, which only means more value-add for you.

On this episode we feature 4 sports influencers to provide actionable tips for you on the following – Running, Training, Yoga and Kickboxing. If these are one of your sports, you’d want to watch this.

Feel the need for speed? Ahmed Hajjo, the Head Coach at Elites Hour academy and Pro Obstacles Runner, is a competent, competitive runner. He drops some of his personal workout tips so you can get faster on the track.

Nike Ambassador Salma Ismail has been into fitness since 2010. Her company Ossalma takes a 360 approach to training to help reach your fitness goals. She shares her story and little workout to get you started on your fitness journey.

For the yoga fans, we have Karen Mattar to help you stretch further. Starting with yoga in 2015, Karen is a certified fitness influencer and Health-Nutrition coach. She shows us a few stretches that help beat fatigue and maintain fitness for those stuck at the desk for long hours.

To top it all off, we got Seena Akbary to show us some fighting techniques. Seena is the Co-owner of Energy Camp Dubai, an Under Armour athlete and a Sports Psychologist. As a practitioner of wrestling and MMA for many years and with a 102K following, you can rest assured his credibility is certified.

You can even watch the episode on IGTV. Let us know your favourite moments or suggestions on who you’d like to see next. We have more episodes, with more content and amazing people coming up with absolute value-add for you. Make sure to follow us @sunsandsports (IG), Sun & Sand Sports (YouTube).

What Is The PLUG?

The PLUG is a series by Sun & Sand Sports that provides you with quality info on the best sports brands, fitness events around town, fitness tips and more. All this directly from leading fitness influencers from the region with the ever-jubilant Mohamad Akkaoui as the host.


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The Blast kickboxing gym thrives in spite of pandemic –



Thirteen-year-old Jorden Joseph trained with The Blast for two years before becoming the Best Junior North American Muay Thai fighter in his weight class. (Photo supplied)

Even during lock-down, The Blast (Body Life Achievement Sports Training) gym owner Mark “ShaH” Evans excelled at what he does best: mentoring and coaching. 

The gym, located at 703 Post Road in south Madison, had been shut down to the public for nearly a year and only just started children’s classes last week. Evans has been able to coach one-on-one with the roughly 20 students who intend to compete at amateur and professional levels.

“That’s where I get to really excel and do what I do best, which is focus on the psychology,” he told Madison365. “Everybody wants to perfect something. You start something new, you want to perfect it, you want to get it overnight and I’m reminding them that you’re not going to get this overnight. The same way you would focus on planting a tree. If you plant a tree, you don’t expect that tree to grow the full size overnight. So stop trying to focus on being perfect today and just be better than what you were yesterday.”

One of those students that he has coached for the past year is Luke “The Chef” Lessei, who will compete in a national pay-per-view Triumphant competition on June 12 in Miami.

Lessei travels the 90 minutes from Dubuque, Iowa, at least once a week to train with Evans. The 24-year-old fighter still has a full-time job, a wife and young child. Evans said Lessei is so good, he has the ability to handpick his trainers, and about a year ago, he chose Evans. 

“Luke is insane,” Evans said. “They call him ‘The Chef’ because he’s always cooking something up. So with the techniques that we come up with in the gym we give it a name. Like his last fight he had — a Muay Thai fight in the cage — he had a jumping side-kick that we call the ‘pepperchini.’” 

Luke Lessei. Photo supplied.

The gym offers Muay Thai Kickboxing, Cardio Kickboxing and self-defense for group and children’s classes. Evans, who is also a nationally known booking agent for musicians and co-founded a record label, took over The Blast in 2018 as the owner. At that time it had five students; within a year he brought that number up to 30. 

“I was able to build a really strong foundation and strong family. I really treat this place like it’s my home,” he said. “Every one of my students are family members.”

Although the owner, Evans isn’t the lead instructor at the gym — that’s Herma Hoda. But as a coach, and as a person who manages people, Evans finds continued success with his students. 

He has coached for three title fights at the Thai Boxing Association tournament, one MMA title for now-pro fighter Devin Seitz, and has coached for three other title fights. When he brings a group of students to the annual Muay Thai Competition in Dubuque that brings in upwards of 800 fighters each year, The Blast always comes home with a winning belt. 

Evans said he doesn’t consider himself the best coach, but there are things that set him apart. 

“I’m constantly learning. And because I’m kind of constantly learning, I feel like I have to share that knowledge with my students. And then, because I’m sharing this knowledge, we’re all learning. And because we’re all learning there’s trust built, there’s a family built. There’s a foundation built within that. To me, a great teacher is always a student.”

In his spare time, Evans said he is always researching — researching martial arts but also reading Socrates, Malcolm Gladwell or Robert Green. 

“If you ask my fighters, they better say their students are not fighters because their job is to learn. Not just training for a fight, but to learn consistently all the time because life is the ultimate fighter,” he said. 

Evans, however, still coaches a physical sport. He said he doesn’t believe in constant sparring and often focuses more coaching time on cardio and endurance. When training with Evans, his students sometimes joke that he is seeking death.  

“I have to get you ready to the point where you aren’t going to fear anything and you’ve ‘sought death’ so often that the fight is going to seem easy in comparison,” he said. “And then if you’re freaking out in your mind in between rounds, it’s like, ‘Hey, who ran those sprints? Who did those 10-minute rounds? Who did all this training?’”

Yet, even in an aggressive sport like Muay Thai kickboxing, Evans said he still teaches his students to spread love, kindness and always do something you are passionate about. 

“So win, lose, or draw what they went through, what they put themselves through — the discipline they created and being able to control their mind and their emotions — no one could take that away,” he said.

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Cardio Kickboxing Class Followed By Beer Flights at a Londonderry, NH, Brewery –



Joining the New Hampshire Brewed Facebook group was one of the more solid decisions I’ve made in my life. I am discovering so many breweries in our fine state. Like Pipe Dream Brewing in Londonderry!

Pipe Dream Brewing is a Veteran Owned brewery with West Coast inspired beer. They carry a wide selection of beers; sours, blondes, IPAs and everything in between. Their beers also have really fun names which always make me giggle such as “Adult Nuggets IPA” and “What up, Beaches? IPA”.

It has been so much fun to see the creations they have released over the past year; everything from Cinnamon Toast Crunch Stout, Pumpkin French Toast beer and, my personal favorite, Unicorn Poop Sour Ale. I am drawn to the beautiful can and hilarious art. And I also tried it and it was like tasting a rainbow!

Pipe Dream Brewing via Facebook

When I saw that two of my favorite things are combining forces for an event, I was like OH HELL YES, count me in! Kick it by Eliza and Pipe Dream Brewing are hosting a Kick It + Sip it event at the brewery in Londonderry on Sunday, June 13th.

Kick it by Eliza is a 13 round music driven cardio kickboxing class. Being a member of the Kick it virtual platform has preserved my sanity during this pandemic. This strong and inspiring squad of women call themselves the “Fempire” and I am honored to be a part of the gang.

So come sweat and sip beer with us! AJ Luchetti is teaching the class and everything you need to know is on the Facebook Invite. Get ready to KICK IT!

LOOK: Here are the 50 best beach towns in America

Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.

READ ON: See the States Where People Live the Longest

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.

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Bhullar banks on boxing versus Vera's kickboxing



Arjan Bhullar and Brandon Vera (ONE Championship)

Arjan Bhullar is confident to showcase his boxing prowess to counter Brandon Vera’s kickboxing ahead of their world heavyweight title bout in ONE: Dangal at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday, May 15.

Bhullar, who is mostly known for his deep wrestling background, is planning to use both of his strong points to keep Vera at bay.

Bhullar, a Canadian of Indian descent, knows too well how dangerous it would be for him once Vera keeps the range with “very accurate and powerful” kicks since the Filipino-American champion improved his arsenal under the tutelage of coach Henri Hooft in Sanford MMA.

READ: Bhullar a dangerous opponent, says Vera

“For us, our boxing is better. My kickboxing is sharp as well but I just haven’t had the chance to show it – how I deal with that and how I meet someone who does that,” said Bhullar, who holds a 10-1 mixed martial arts record. “This would be a good opportunity for that. My clinch work is better than his and I will show that.

“But more than anything, skills aside, I say we are equal all the way around. My insights have separated me from him. I will go further and deeper than he will, and that is where I draw a lot of my confidence from.”

READ: Bhullar all set vs Vera

The 34-year-old Bhullar, a former Olympic wrestler and UFC fighter, scored a unanimous decision victory against Cerilli last October 2019 for his promotional debut in ONE: Century II.

Bhullar displayed the versatile fighter in him after testing the waters first in wrestling before landing crisp punches in the latter parts of the match.

READ: Bhullar seeks to become first Indian MMA champion, vows to dethrone Vera

Vera (16-8), 43, for his part last saw action in the same event and lost to rival-turned-training partner Aung La N Sang, a former two-division world champion.

Vera and Bhullar were initially scheduled to fight in May last year at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City but the title bout was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: Vera out to defy age vs Bhullar



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