Dubai residents participating in a yoga session as part of the 2017 Dubai Fitness Challenge. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The Dubai Fitness Challenge is back this year beginning October 26 for a month-long, action-packed event that aims to encourage one million residents make fitness not only a priority but a lifestyle.

The challenge is the flagship fitness initiative by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.

Now in its second year, the Dubai Fitness Challenge urges people from all walks of life to commit to a minimum of 30 consecutive minutes of daily activity for 30 days. It aims to take Dubai one step closer to making it the most active city in the world, and possibly get the whole country involved as well.

The 30-day challenge promises a full calendar spread across the city with two major Carnivals — the Dubai Festival City Opening Weekend Carnival and the Burj Park Closing Weekend Carnival.

To make fitness accessible to everyone, organisers have set up five ‘thematic’ villages across the city from October 28 to November 22. The villages cater to the various interests of residents including water sports, cycling, running, sports tournaments, family fun games and even office fitness.

More than 3,000 fitness sessions and classes have been scheduled along with more than 40 fitness events including Dubai International Triathlon, The Color Run and Yogafest, and a host of community-led activities to keep residents charged and motivated throughout the 30 days.

The inaugural Dubai Fitness Challenge last year saw a staggering 786,000 people of all ages and fitness levels commit to take on the challenge.

Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director-General of Dubai Tourism, said: “Last year, we saw Dubai’s residents and visitors, government, businesses and schools all come together organically and enthusiastically to create a truly inclusive city movement towards a healthier and happier society. This year, we aim for DFC to further amplify its impact on our lives collectively as more people get inspired to be part of the event, pledging their commitment to a richer and lasting lifestyle choice for all.”

Al Marri encouraged residents to take advantage of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle by taking part in this year’s challenge.

“With just 30 minutes of sports, exercise or any physical activity daily for 30 days, we have an unprecedented opportunity to give back to our society. We ask that you commit to the challenge, enjoy the action-packed calendar, inspire and encourage your friends and family to get involved – so we can together make Dubai the most active and happiest city in the world,” Al Marri said.

The impact of last year’s challenge on residents’ well-being was tangible, said residents who were surveyed.

A 14 per cent increase was recorded in the frequency of exercise amongst the city’s population, with 71 per cent getting active at least three times a week, compared to 57 per cent before the challenge.

In addition, the percentage of residents who completed 10,000-plus steps a day also doubled during the Fitness Challenge from 16 per cent to 32 per cent as Dubai collectively moved towards its target of becoming the most active city in the world.

Residents and tourists who want to take part have been advised to download the Dubai Fitness Challenge app once live and register to be able to gain free access to all the fitness events.


What’s new this year?

Five themed fitness villages will run for 26 days (October 28 to November 22) at locations easily accessible to communities across Dubai. All Villages are free admission.

1) DIFC Fitness Village

Location: DIFC

Weekdays: 7am to 9pm
Fridays: 3pm to 10pm
Saturdays: 2pm to 9pm

Intensity: Beginner

Best for: Office team building

What’s on offer: Over 300 free fitness classes on the main stage; participants may visit during their lunch break; Budding golfers and professionals can practise their swing on a super high-tech golf simulator.

2) DMCC Park Fitness Village

Location: Jumeirah Lake Towers Park

Weekdays: 7am to 10pm
Fridays: 2pm to 10pm
Saturdays: 12pm to 9pm

Intensity: Beginner

Best for: Adrenaline and Team Sports fans

What’s on offer: Over 400 free fitness classes on the main stage plus football. volleyball and basketball tournaments. Gymnastics zone, Adults ninja warrior, acrobatics workshops and a bouldering zone are also available.

3) Kite Beach Fitness Village

Location: Kite Beach

Daily: 9am to 6pm

Intensity: Beginner

Best for: Beach and water sports enthusiasts

What’s on offer? Over 400 free fitness classes at the beach plus daily Aqua classes; tournaments and courts for beach volleyball, cricket and soccer will be accompanied by a water sports zone.

4) Palm Jumeirah Fitness Village

Location: Al Ittihad Park, Palm Jumeirah

Saturday to Wednesday: 7am to 10pm
Thursday and Friday: 10am to 11.30pm

Intensity: Beginner

Best for: Families of all ages

What’s on offer? Running clubs will gather to train alongside participants enjoying over 300 free fitness classes on the main stage. For mums and mums-to-be, pre and post-natal fitness classes will be on offer.

5) Al Khawaneej Walk Fitness Village

Location: Quranic Park Fitness Village

Weekdays 4pm to 10pm
Fridays: 3pm to 11pm
Saturdays: 4pm to 9pm

Intensity: Beginner

Best for: Cycling fans

What’s on offer? Cycle clubs will be created for everyone including teens, families, over 60s and people of determination, with adult and children’s bikes available for free and special ladies only times.