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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

People of all walks of life rise to the Dubai Fitness Challenge 

Hundreds of residents gathered in Safa Park on Saturday to take part in the second day of Dubai’s 30-day fitness challenge

There were plenty of activities for adults and kids alike at the Dubai Fitness Challenge event in Safa Park over the weekend. Chris Whiteoak / The National
There were plenty of activities for adults and kids alike at the Dubai Fitness Challenge event in Safa Park over the weekend. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Hundreds of exercise enthusiasts gathered in Dubai's Safa Park on Saturday to take part in the second day of the emirate’s Fitness Challenge.

Launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the challenge aims to get more people involved in fitness over 30 days.

“Sheikh Hamdan asked everyone to work out for 30 minutes for 30 days but it’s really important to work out all year long,” said Mohammed Ahmad, a 45-year-old from Syria. “You have to be active and into sports to be able to lead a healthy life, whether it’s running or swimming. I’ve been horse riding for three years about twice a week.

“Here in Dubai, the weather is not always easy for us to work out every day but now, with the better weather conditions, people should go out more and work out.”

Read more: Sheikh Hamdan launches Dubai Fitness Challenge - in pictures

Shermeen Baqai, a 27-year-old Pakistani accounts manager, did the super-fast fat-loss exercise and body combat in the park. “Some of the exercises were really rigorous,” she said. “We did push-ups, squats and lunges. I think it’s a great idea, it really motivates people to come and be a part of it and exercise, and the weather is getting really good, so it’s a great initiative.”

She said Dubai’s sedentary lifestyle has made her a bit too laid back. “So it’s a great project by the Crown Prince and I really want to take part and get fit,” she said. “I’m afraid I don’t work out regularly so I intend to do this every day and join the gym in my building, go out and play volleyball and football, whatever’s being offered, I’m up for it.”

The event also attracted visitors from out of town, like Inass Ismaili, a Moroccan who is on a three-month research assignment in Dubai.

“I did the body combat class and I hadn’t done any exercise since I arrived here two weeks ago, so it was really a great opportunity for me to move and start again,” said the 27-year-old who usually works out twice a week back home. “There are many people with their kids and families and it’s a great opportunity for all to take this challenge. Moving for 30 minutes every day is not huge but it will have a great impact on everyone.”

Read more: First day of Dubai Fitness Challenge: we accept!

Children also enjoyed the activities, which ranged from football to ninja warrior games and basketball. “They’re burnt out,” said Santhosh Varghese of his two children, Abel and Sean, aged 13 and 11. “We’ve been here for an hour but they had a lot of fun. I start yesterday with a 30-minute walk and 630 moves so the app tracks everything.”

The 43-year-old Indian service manager, who has lived in Dubai for 18 years, said his aim was to keep himself and his children moving and burn more calories, as opposed to sitting at home. “It’s tough in Dubai because our daily lives don’t involve much movement,” he said. “Even for kids, it is like that – all they do is study and sit at a desk, so we’re starting the one-month challenge with the app.”

Sheikh Hamdan launched the initiative in a bid to make Dubai one of the most active cities in the world.

"I am happy to see this enthusiasm and preparedness in participating in the fitness challenge,” he said on Friday. “The aim of the event is to educate people on the importance of sports and its positive effect on the health of people. I wish that our people would continue exercising, with the same enthusiasm, after the end of the fitness challenge.”