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Zayed Al Nuaimi backflips at the Dubai Fitness Challenge 2019 at Kite Beach, Dubai. 18th October 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: Sparing 30 minutes for yourself, for your health, is doable and if you still can’t do it, consider giving up 30 minutes of social media or watching TV, residents said.

There’s no excuse not to be active and to keep fit in the emirate as Dubai kicked off its third Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) on Friday afternoon.

Fitness Villages at Kite Beach and Festival City Mall gave residents a chance to sweat it out and flex their muscles with the whole family as the emirate transforms into the world’s only “city gym” that will run until November 16.

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Group workout session as part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge 2019 at Kite Beach, Dubai. 18th October 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Launched in 2017 by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council, the Dubai Fitness Challenge encourages residents and tourists alike to devote 30 minutes each day to do any form of exercise for 30 days.

The aim is to make exercise an everyday part of their lives.

Drenched in sweat after a spinning class with the beach in the background are siblings Arif and Tahira Baig from Pakistan.

The duo completed the whole 30-minute class with ease as both are into cycling already, although this is their first time to be in a spinning class.

“In Dubai, we do most of our activities indoors with AC. Here this is natural environment. The weather is also getting better by the beach,” Arif said as he sipped water after the class.

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Group workout session as part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge 2019 at Kite Beach, Dubai. 18th October 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

“This was challenging because I’m wearing slippers. If I had worn my shoes, it would have been easier.”

Arif said he tries to cycle every day and if he gets busy, he would give up something to trade that time with exercise.

“That would be sitting in a room and surfing the internet. My job is stressful so I need to be active after office hours,” he explained.

Tahira, a chef in Dubai, said: “I’m a cyclist so it’s easy for me. Though I am busy, we make time for our health by doing healthy activities. I don’t compromise. Exercise is already part of my routine.”

Ryan Harvey, from the UK, who also participated in the Friday activities, said he now exercises four times a week despite his busy schedule.

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Seedorf, Dutch legend, four times UEFA CHampions league winner, at the Dubai Fitness Challenge 2019 at Kite Beach, Dubai. 18th October 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

“Thirty minutes a day exercising is achievable. Of course we have other commitments, work, family. But in my case, I prioritise,” the Dubai resident who works in IT, told Gulf News.

“If anyone is finding it hard to allot 30 minutes for exercise, they can give up watching TV. They can fit 30 minutes of exercise in their day. They can go on a treadmill for 30 minutes and watch their favourite show on their phone,” he suggested.

For Elisha Nijhawan, an Indian events manager, exercise has become a regular part of her life as she has been participating in the DFC since it began in 2017.

“It gives you the motivation to keep going and helps develop self-discipline. They offer free workouts already. Why would you go and pay when you can take advantage of these free offers here,” she said.

Though she’s busy, she said she’s able to make time for exercise by doing one thing.

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Saeed Hareb, General Secretary of Dubai Sports Council, along with Seedorf, Dutch legend, four times UEFA CHampions league winner, and Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) at the Dubai Fitness Challenge 2019 at Kite Beach, Dubai. 18th October 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

“That is true, everybody is busy because everybody is working. But for me, I leave work on time. That’s my secret.”

Emirati teen Zayed Al Nuaimi, 15, exercises one hour every day and is fond of doing backflips. While walking along Kite Beach on Friday, he heard the music at the DFC site and joined in despite wearing a kandoura.

“This initiative is really nice. It’s free and is open to everybody,” he said after participating in a workout.

More than 40 fitness events and more than 5,000 fitness and health programmes are in store for residents throughout the city for 30 days.

Where to go

Kite Beach Fitness Village 

  • Opens: October 18, 7am to 9pm
  • Open till: November 16
  • Features: 10 zones of free outdoor activities all through the festival from beachside basketball to boxing and martial arts to water sports.
  • Saturday to Wednesday: 7am to 9pm
  • Thursday and Friday: 7am to 11pm
  • Admission: Free
  • Age: All ages

Festival City Mall Fitness Village 

  • Opens: October 18, 12pm to 10pm
  • Open till: November 16
  • Features: Seven zones that include Zumba, cycling hub, ultimate mile and others, including a chance to win Dh50,000 in mall gift cards if you win in the first 29 days of the challenge.
  • Sunday to Wednesday: Noon to 10pm
  • Thursday and Friday: Noon to midnight
  • Admission: Free
  • Ages: all ages

Fitness hubs

  • Hamdan Sports complex Fitness Hub: October 18 - November 1
  • Dubai Police Officers Club: October 18 – 26
  • Downtown Dubai Fitness Hub: October 18 - November 16
  • Zabeel Ladies Club: October 18 to 26
  • Quranic Park – October 18 – November 16
  • For more information, visit dubaifitnesschallenge.com