Monday 22 August 2016
Dubai-based calisthenics trainer talks about vegan lifestyle!
Stephen Hughes-Landers is not your stereotypical vegan. Forget corduroy clothing or food-shaming comments about your steak sandwich – this 35-year-old is athletic, tattooed and unlikely to criticise.
The Dubai-based international calisthenics trainer and published cookbook author is a brand ambassador for Rage calisthenics equipment.
As he’s casually doing one-armed pull-ups on a bar, he tells me: “Calisthenics is a mix of strength, balance, and mobility. You can do it anywhere. You are your equipment, so imagination is your only limitation. ”
The world has become obsessed with calisthenics, the regime that focuses on bodyweight exercises.
Instagram in particular is abuzz with users trying to do tricks on their hands, on bars and on rings. When I ask Stephen why, he explains: “Number one, it’s fashionable. Social media has blown it up. You see someone doing a human flag or cool stuff, people share it like crazy. Plus, you can do it anywhere, anytime.”
He got into the exercise regime three years ago after watching YouTube videos. It was love at first sight.
He says: “On a Tuesday I saw a video of two guys, one called Ed Checo, and one Hannibal For King, and I saw them doing some incredible bodyweight workout in a park. I’d never heard of calisthenics and I saw them doing human flags and muscle-ups in a kids park in New York. I watched these videos for two or three days.
“On the Friday, I gave up my job in a tattoo studio, got rid of my apartment and my car, and trained every single day watching YouTube on my own. Slowly just dragging anyone who walked the bar, in the park near me, anyone who walked past, I’d say come join. Within four or five months I turned up one day and there were 103 people that had turned up.”
From there it grew into an international forum. Although he’s now in Dubai, training still continues in the Brighton park where Stephen first got things going.
The vegan lifestyle was adopted at the same time as the training, but not for any logical reason. “I switched to vegan as an experiment,” he says.
Before, I’ve done 10 weeks only eating red meat – for seven meals a day. Just to see what the human body is capable of. We’re incredible creatures.
“I switched to veganism overnight. Didn’t do any research, just stopped animal products. After two weeks, my energy levels went to the levels I was when I was 15. I never looked back.”
Undoubtedly, the most asked question the Brit receives is: “How do you get your protein?”. He sighs: “You can get your protein from plants. Some of the best athletes in the world on this scene are vegans. I’ve written 14 different plant-based cookbooks. The stuff I try to teach is simple – five-ingredient meals that are minimal mess. Most people don’t cook because they have to clean.
“My recipes are real simple, real cheap, but really nutritious. I don’t follow any specific diet, I eat good food all day.”
Last week, he launched a new e-book to dispel some common myths in health and wellbeing.
Stephen says: “This stuff is not rocket science, it’s straight-forward things like portion control. I eat five to seven meals a day – and I’m never hungry. If you’ve got a car, and it’s full of petrol, you don’t fill it up again – it would spill out. It’s the same with food. You eat more, it’s going to spill around you. It’s the most simple thing. If your car is half full, you’ll fill it halfway. It’s easy and applicable stuff.”
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