Yasalam Get Driver Fit: Seven weeks of free fitness and nutrition in Abu Dhabi
Broke and carrying a few extra kilos after the summer? This may be the perfect solution
If there was a more fitting way to break free from the shackles of four months confined to air-conditioning and enclosed spaces, we'd like to see it.
As the sun set on a balmy (though, admittedly still a little too hot) UAE evening, hundreds of Abu Dhabi residents took to Yas Marina Circuit for the beginning of the fifth Yasalam Get Driver Fit programme.
Set on the racetrack more commonly known for F1 cars screaming around at pace, the circuit became a tranquil dusk backdrop for a five-kilometre workout session on a Sunday evening.
Peppered with workout stations and energetic trainers, keen athletes - of the amateur and seasoned variety - were put through their paces via burpees, rowing, squats, assault bikes and stand-ups.
Progress was noted down, as the benchmark fitness level from which each person would gauge their own progress.
The setting also proved a minor distraction from the job at hand, as festivalgoers couldn't help but frequently pause mid-jog to snap pictures of the racetrack.
Get Driver Fit, in conjunction with Daman’s ActiveLife, is now in its fifth year - offering seven weeks of free fitness classes for anyone who wants to sign up.
The fitness programme offers seven weeks of classes across the capital, including High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), boxing, circuits, yoga and Zumba.
But, as personal trainer and Haddins Fitness spokesperson Phil Smith told The National, the programme is more about a "lifestyle change" than just fitness. Participants are offered guidance on nutrition and motivation through bi-weekly seminars, and the registration event will also help them chart their progress as the weeks go on.
As a sign of the times, a body scan gifts people with a 3-D body model and measurements which will calculate their health and fitness metrics.
Held as part of the Yasalam festival, Sunday's bustling registration session proved just how much the initiative has grown year-on-year.
Since its inception, it has attracted between 200-300 participants overall, and 100-200 people showing up per fitness class, says Smith.
Participants range from those who were just trying to get into fitness, to those who ran regular triathlons.
"You have parents who are coming and bringing their 18-year-olds, who are running laps around them, but they're still doing the same classes," he says.
"The sole backbone of this program is to get Abu Dhabi active. It's all about the community and giving people the opportunity.
"Everyone spends too long behind their desks these days ... everyone's going to the physio now because they've got weak glutes, and that's from sitting down for eight hours a day and not moving."
This year was the first year participants were able to sign up online, which actually had to be halted after two weeks due to the overwhelming demand.
While fitness plays a major role in the programme, Smith admits the biggest change he sees in people is their confidence.
"When they first come they're all shy, but within the seven weeks you'll see everyone's made friends, they all click and it does become this huge community.
"It's a lifestyle change, as opposed to coming and losing weight for seven weeks."
But what's the end goal you might ask, aside from getting fit and feeling better in your clothes? Well, an 'exotic three-night getaway' might help bolster the motivation.
The programme culminates in the Get Driver Fit Finale Challenge at du Forum in November, where two grand winners will be announced - based on their participation and attendance of classes, fitness improvement, body transformation and results in the finale.
The 'well-deserved rest' comes courtesy of Nirvana Travel & Tourism.
If you're up for it, an additional two registration evenings will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
The full timetable and details can be found on the Yasalam website.
Updated: September 18, 2017 04:00 PM