Dubai: The phrase ‘give someone a run for their money’ becomes that much more pertinent when there’s Dh400,000 to be won and the contest is about fitness. In an effort to promote an active lifestyle among Dubai residents, Fitness First Middle East recently held the ‘Dubai Fitness Competition’ under the patronage of Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture, to identify the fittest man and woman in Dubai.
More than 400 individuals (members and non-members of the health and fitness chain) entered the competition and put themselves through the paces during the qualifying rounds in July. Participants had to complete three rounds of the qualifying circuit — combination of squats, sit-ups, shoulder presses and shuttle runs — in the fastest time to make it into the finals.
The initial field whittled down to 40 finalists — divided in two equal groups of men and women, who competed for the prize money in the hope of claiming the top prize of Dh100,000 for each group besides the honour of being acknowledged as Dubai’s fittest man and woman.
The finals took place at the Dubai Mall Ice Rink over two days, ending on August 10.
Gulf News spoke to the eventual winners. Australian Eva Clarke, 32, who finished the circuit in 17.52 minutes, said, “The last few exercises were the toughest, especially the push-ups.” The freelance fitness trainer added: “I had expected to be in the top three. It has been a fantastic experience.”
The male title holder, New Zealander Grant Goes, a 31-year-old businessman, said the title came as a surprise. “I entered the contest in the spirit of fitness, and didn’t expect to win. I was fortunate to be at the right time, place and in the right condition. My time was 21.12 minutes.”
The goal of the contest was two-fold — to raise fitness levels in the UAE, and to remind people to stay active during the Holy Month.
Speaking to Gulf News about the contest, Mark Botha, group sales and marketing manager of Fitness First Middle East, said that the aim of the contest was to highlight the importance of fitness to residents during Ramadan.
“There is a risk of not focusing on diet and fitness during the fasting phase. We wanted to encourage residents to adopt a balanced diet and continue exercising. Since the announcement of the competition, participants — both expatriates and Emiratis, have stepped up. Our youngest finalist is 21 and oldest 45,” Botha said.
The circuit for the finals, he explained, was designed to put contestants through their paces. “The five-phase circuit included bar deadlifts, running, step ascents, rowing, air squats, and sit-ups,” he said. Of the training requirements, Botha added, “The finalists were given only one week to practise the final circuit so they had limited time.”