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Keeping fit with social distancing protocols in place will be the name of the game Image Credit: For illustrative purpose only

Dubai: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the distancing protocols, the latest edition of Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC), which this year runs October 30 to November 28, aims to top its last year participation of over 1 million people, with a mix of offline and online sessions, officials said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a virtual media briefing to announce details of the fourth annual DFC, officials announced details of DFC 2020, which includes free fitness events, sports activities, health and wellness programmes and virtual sessions, including three dedicated Fitness Villages, 10 community-centric Fitness Hubs, 200-plus virtual sessions and over 2,000 classes across 150 locations in Dubai.

This year, prior booking is essential for all events on The flagship Dubai Run will see the city turn into a running track with all people invited for a fun run.

Public health and safety will remain paramount throughout DFC, with all physical events strictly following Dubai government guidelines, including social distancing guidelines, safety precautions and hygiene and sanitisation requirements. Depending on the activity and spacing between people, masks may or may not be required, with organisers to provide the relevant guidance.

Launched in 2017 by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, the citywide fitness movement urges everyone to commit to 30 minutes of activity for 30 days.

‘Best defence against illness’

Tuesday’s media briefing was led by Saeed Hareb, general-secretary of Dubai Sports Council (DSC) and Ahmad Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE).

Hareb said: “For us, sports is an essential activity at all times, but it has become even more important in this period of COVID-19. Exercising and staying fit strengthens your immune system and a strong immune system is your best defence against illness. Being physically active also increases an individual’s overall sense of wellbeing and leads to an increase in happiness, that is why we launched the ‘Be Fit, Be Safe’ campaign earlier in the year. In the early days of the lockdown, the community embraced the initiative in big numbers and more than 30 top international sports stars joined us in spreading the message about the importance of physical activity and staying safe during this period.”

Al Khaja said: “With public health and safety remaining a top priority throughout all events, we have worked tirelessly with our partners and global industry leaders to dial up the strength of our digital ecosystem and deliver a hybrid mix of virtual and physical events. By adopting this approach, we are leveraging new technologies to innovate how the DFC programme is virtually curated and packaged, bringing added flexibility and remote access to ensure anyone, anytime, anywhere can stay connected and motivated throughout the month.”

Fun run

Dubai Run will see the entire city become a personalised running track for all ages, abilities and fitness levels. On November 27, the biggest, free-to-enter, citywide fun run will welcome residents and visitors to celebrate their new personal best. Participants can run, jog or walk along their preferred route, distance, location and starting time. To help runners put their best foot forward, six 28-day training programmes have been specially curated by some of the region’s leading professional coaches and athletes, including Manal Rostom, Tania Lolla Kaddoura, Abdullah Bin Hajjar, Luke Mathews, Lee Ryan and Luke Gaffney. The plans will be free to access on the DFC website, featuring a variety of step-by-step fitness guides for all levels across 2km, 5km and 10km distances. The event will also see a special partnership with Dubai Cares’ Education Uninterrupted fundraising campaign, to support students whose lives have been disrupted by this year’s challenges. Last year, Dubai Run attracted 70,000 people.

On-foot tours

New in 2020 will be a programme of free, weekly guided Dubai Running Tours, providing an on-foot perspective of sights across the city. Organised in partnership with Arabian Adventures and sports brand ASICS, the tours will be available throughout the 30 days of the Challenge. Participants can choose from three different routes with varying difficulty levels – a 5km fun run around Burj Lake in Downtown Dubai; an advanced 10km beach run along Kite Beach; and a self-guided 3km ‘treasure hunt’ style quest in the Dubai Creek area, available for free on the Questo city explorer mobile game.

Fitness Villages

Three Fitness Villages, located at Kite Beach, Al Khawaneej, and Dubai Festival City Mall will complement 10 community-centric Fitness Hubs across Gate Avenue, Hamdan Sport Complex, DMCC, Zabeel Ladies Club, Sustainable City, Dubai Police Officers Club, Dubai Sport Council, and Dubai Sport City, The Outlet Village and Hatta.

The DP World Fitness Village Kite Beach will offer a variety of outdoor activities within a socially distanced open-air setting. A diverse range of family-fun activities will be spread across 16 zones. With extended opening hours for the 30 days from 2pm to 11pm from Sundays to Thursdays and 7am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, the zones include the main stage for daily programming, a burn camp for group sessions, a beach football pitch, dedicated kids play area, the rebounder zone, a combat club zone for coaching sessions, watershed and obstacles with free equipment, a holistic health and wellbeing space in the astral zone, a fun mirror room for women only, a basketball half court, a spin station, and a multi-purpose zone which will feature a line-up of group exercises and instructor-led fitness sessions. Global fitness brand, Under Armour, will also be present at the Village, inviting athletes of all abilities to test their agility, speed, strength, mobility and cardio with the Under Armour Functional Fitness Challenge.

The Emirates NBD Fitness Village Al Khawaneej will welcome everyone for a workout in the park, with a focus on cycling and family-oriented activities. Open to visitors every day, from 4pm to 11pm from Saturdays to Wednesdays and 4pm to midnight on Thursdays and Fridays, the outdoor areas of the park will be transformed into five distinct zones, including a cycle hub, a community stage, a family box, a dedicated women’s pavilion and a kids play area.

The Mai Dubai Fitness Village Festival City Mall will be the newest adventure spot for the whole family, welcoming DFC participants from November 6. The centrepiece of the Village will be The Arch, a giant multi-purpose venue. The attraction will host four activities - a climbing wall, zip line, bag jump and quick flight - in addition to four activity zones with football, basketball, pump track and a workout stage.

At-home sessions

DFC 2020 will place an elevated focus on at-home sessions with the return of its ‘Find Your 30’ virtual content hub. The free-to-access, one-stop destination will be hosted on the DFC website, allowing participants to unlock a wide range of fitness content for all ages and abilities. Workout videos, 30-day exercise programmes, discipline challenges, podcasts, healthy recipes, health and wellness articles and vlogs, workout graphics, and educational videos for children will be sourced from experts in the fitness and health industry. The hub will also feature ‘Etisalat City is a Gym’, a virtual map of Dubai spanning 30 different locations across the city. Each location will feature unique workouts that have been curated in partnership with leading fitness instructors, allowing individuals and groups to work out for free without any equipment. Upon arrival at each location, participants will be able to scan a QR code with their mobile device to access an easy-to-follow workout that will be unique to that place.

Free apps access

For the first time, DFC participants will also be able to benefit from free, 30-day access to leading global fitness apps. Covering HIIT-centric programmes, running-themed apps, at-home bodyweight workouts, or yoga and meditation sessions, the DFC app partners including Fitbit Premium, NEOU, Steppi, Sworkit, Daily Burn, FIIT and Les Mills on Demand will be on hand to help guide users along the path to better health and wellness. There will also be more than 200 virtual sessions on the DFC website and over 2,000 classes throughout the month. The city’s health and wellness industry will also be involved with free check-ups, information sessions, classes and much more throughout the 30 days.

Mega sale

Also new will be the DFC Mega Sale at The Dubai Mall from October 29 to 31 offering up to 90 per cent off on sports, health and wellness brands, as well as up to 75% off on fashion, beauty, accessories and more. Other sales will continue throughout DFC.