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12,000 join first workout of Dubai Fitness Challenge

Participants on the opening day say they want to make exercise a lifestyle, improve stamina and be happier in 30 days

  • Shaikh Hamdan during the opening weekend carnival of 'Dubai Fitness Challenge: 30X30' at Safa parkImage Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Participants doing yoga at the opening weekend carnival of 'Dubai Fitness Challenge: 30X30' at Safa paImage Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Director general of KHDA Dr Abdulla Al Karam with the team of KHDA Gladiators at the Desert Warrior ChallengeImage Credit: Supplied
Gulf News

Dubai: To make exercise a lifestyle, improve stamina, lose weight and be happier — all these and more after 30 days are what residents aim for as the monthlong Dubai Fitness Challenge kicked off on Friday.

Organisers said some 12,000 people turned up for the first day of the 30-day challenge at Safa Park on Friday armed with yoga mats, water bottles, towels, and loads of determination.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council, who launched the challenge on October 2, came to the park on the opening day to motivate residents and visitors to commit to doing physical activities for 30 minutes for 30 days. The aim is to make Dubai one of the most active cities in the world.

On the opening day, residents had to first brave the heat as maximum temperatures peaked in the high 30s when the programme began at 2pm. Others had to walk a distance because the entrance to the park was jammed — which is a good warm up, at least.

Les Mills made sure everyone was pumped up and challenged participants’ high kick and boxing moves with their Body Combat group exercise.

After a low to medium intensity workout, a relaxing yoga flex made everyone — especially first-timers — stretch themselves to the limit in a 30-minute exercise.

Ali Bin Masood, 26, did a back-to-back workout from the last portion of the body combat to the yoga session and he was thrilled.

“I was a bit late for the Body Combat but it really made me energetic. The yoga session was more of a relaxing and spiritual experience for me. I have a stiff body so that’s the challenge,” the Pakistani expatriate told Gulf News.

He said he is into fitness but aims to be more disciplined and focused. After 30 days, he aims to see himself as someone “who has better stamina, more toned muscles, improved endurance”.

WATCH: What's that in the sky? Dubai Fitness Challenge officially opens with a skydive surprise! 

Dubai-based buddies Ali and Mohannad, both from Saudi Arabia, also tried out the yoga session on the spot. They have two words after it: “Try it!”

“It was really nice and it’s always beautiful to go out of the house. We feel tired but we feel good,” Ali said.

For Mohannad, he has one piece of advice — people should get off the couch and start moving.

“Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t stay home and just watch TV and eat popcorn. Let’s be fit,” he said.

Just getting oneself to move is already a start. Combine that with an actual physical activity, even as simple as walking, that engages the whole body daily even for just 30 minutes will give the body a lot of benefits.

In Dubai, nearly 36 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women are overweight, 11.9 per cent morbidly obese and nearly 36.1 per cent have borderline obesity. This is based on a study of Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Statistics Centre that looked at 13,000 individuals.

A research conducted in 17 countries published last month said doing just about any physical activity for 30 minutes for five days could extend a person’s life, not to mention improve one’s quality of life.

A person has 1,440 minutes a day, and if he’s awake for 16 hours, that means he has 960 minutes to spend on himself — 30 minutes is negligible if you come to think of it, Emirati Hiba Bawazir said.

The first day extended until evening with celebrity fitness coach Rob ‘The Killer’ Edmond, the host of the UK’s ‘The Biggest Loser’, taking the centre stage to keep everyone moving. Former England pro football player Rio Ferdinand also shared his fitness regime.

Around the park, there were many sports-to-try and leisure activities for both young and old. There were also bicycles that generated electricity, so if you used them, you could charge your phone.

Day 2:

  • What: Day 2 of Opening Weekend Carnival
  • When: October 21, 1pm-7pm
  • Admission: Free (including park entry)
  • Level: All levels
  • Location: Safa Park in Al Wasl, Gate 2

Day 2 highlights:

  • 1.15pm: Super Fast Fat Loss — Rob ‘The Killer’ Edmond, star of TV’s The Biggest Loser
  • 2pm: Body Combat
  • 2.30pm: Gold’s Gym Kid Fitness
  • 3pm: La Perle Slackline Show
  • 3.45pm: Shaikha Al Qasimi, Red Bull athlete
  • 4pm: Fun & Fit with Rob ‘The Killer’ Edmond, star of TV’s The Biggest Loser
  • 4.45pm: Emirates Football League Cheerleading Show
  • 5.15pm: Gold’s Gym presents Zumba Fusion
  • 6pm: Football Freestylers Show
  • 6.30pm: Rio Ferdinand, former England footballer

In Pictures