x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Childhood obesity may be on the rise but if your child is fond of and good at sports, he or she could earn the title of "fittest kid in Abu Dhabi".

Left to right, fitness friends Emma Clout, 12, Tom Verdon, 14, Josh Clout, 14, and Megan Tremblay, 12, get some exercise on stationary bikes at the Haddin's gym in Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
Left to right, fitness friends Emma Clout, 12, Tom Verdon, 14, Josh Clout, 14, and Megan Tremblay, 12, get some exercise on stationary bikes at the Haddin's gym in Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

This week Zayed Sports City will transform into a giant fun zone for children as it is hosts KidsFest from today until Saturday. The attractions will include carnival rides, street performers and other entertainment shows, a petting zoo and arts and craft stalls.

Also on during the five days of the festival is the search for the strongest, fastest, most athletic school-going child in the city.

The Abu Dhabi’s Fittest Kid Challenge will cover seven age groups, from five years up to 18 years, and include both boys and girls.

The younger ones will compete in fun games such as egg-and-spoon races, monkey crawls and wheel-barrow races.

The teenagers will be involved in more strenuous activities, such as tyre flipping and kettle-bell lifting.

The challenges will test strength, agility, speed, flexibility and endurance, while remaining relevant to your child’s age and gender.

Instructors from Haddins Fitness, the gym based at the sports facility, will oversee the event, which is being run in conjunction with the Healthpoint hospital located within the grounds of the sports complex.

Barry Bremner, the general manager of Zayed Sports City, explains the motivation behind the contest: “It’s about encouraging youngsters to get into sport with their families watching,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is to take Haddins’ methodology – that you don’t need any equipment whatsoever to be fit and healthy – to the youngsters.”

The event is also about influencing parents to adopt a healthier attitude. “In this country, many families don’t exercise together,” contends Bremner. “We are trying to show that exercise can be fun. You don’t necessarily need to join a gym. You can go to a local park that’s free of charge and do some fun things such as press-ups, squats, dips on a bench or skipping.”

Michael Haddin, the owner of Haddins Fitness, believes that contests can be an important way to encourage the young to keep active. All the challenges are based on his theories of exercise, which focus on working out using one’s own body weight.

“The challenges I design will be based on teaching the kids that exercise doesn’t always involve gym-style training,” he explains. “You can work your full body using functional style movements such as running, crawling, throwing, pushing and pulling.

“We’re not trying to make it too complicated or tough for the little ones,” he says. “With the older ones, we might make it a bit more challenging, so that the fittest kid does win, but it will be fun.”

Haddin’s overall goal remains clear: “Hopefully the children will start to make exercise a part of their lives because they enjoy it.”

• Visit www.kidsfestabudhabi.com for details about KidsFest and Abu Dhabi’s Fittest Kid Challenge

hberger@thenational.ae