Last year’s initiative saw 786,000 participants. The goal this year is to touch 1 million.

Here is the ultimate reason to bin all those excuses about not getting fit. The Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) is back again for a second year, and that means one thing – the city is about to turn into one giant activity playground and gym. And it’s all for free.

Following the huge success of the inaugural challenge in 2017, launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, its conclusion date on November 18 last year, herald a new beginning in fitness across the city. In total, residents clocked up 2.5 billion moves in just 30 days.

Upping the ante on last year’s total engagement numbers, which saw 786,000 citizens and residents commit to 30 minutes of daily physical activity for 30 days, the DFC 2018 is on a mission to get more than one million people on board this year. The target to reach 100,000 participants in 2017 was smashed, so hopes are that the same will happen again this year.

Running from October 19 to November 17, gyms, yoga studios and popular resident hotspots will be among some of the many places opening their doors to residents who want to get involved. Offering free classes, passes, sessions and events throughout the month-long event, residents won’t have to fork out a penny but can shed the pounds.

With the aim to encourage people to dedicate 30 minutes out of their day to being active, there really will be no excuse for being a couch potato. From paddle-boarding and group fitness classes to football and cycling, no stone will be left unturned.

Last year, Indian expatriate Sujith Varghese was a huge part of the DFC. And this year is no different. “On a personally level, I’ll definitely be a part of the initiative this year. I was very active for the debut event and I feel like it was the best thing in fitness that happened in Dubai, actually, the world. It was a real wake up call for people living this 24/7 lifestyle in Dubai; a chance to get active all hours of the day.”

After being left paralysed following a motorbike accident in 2013, Varghese threw himself into the gym, determined not to let the fact he is in a wheelchair dominate his life. And this year, what he hopes to see more of as part of the DFC is increased engagement with the people with determination (PwD).

“I’d like to see more happening with this sector of the community. Rather than one day or event tailored towards people with disabilities, increase accessibility at event hotspots and have more days, if not all days, suited towards them so they can enjoy being part of the initiative.”

“After life challenged me, I chose to challenge life.” That’s what Natalia Hassanie told Khaleej Times in 2017 when talking about her decision to accept the Dubai Fitness Challenge. It was a breast cancer diagnosis in 2013 that saw Hassanie convert from gym virgin to a gym bunny. And after hearing the challenge was coming back again this year, her reaction said it all.

“Last year’s DFC provided plenty of opportunities to stay physically active. After the DFC, I reached the stage where I would go to the gym everyday. Sports is my new kind of medicine.”

Don Idrees, owner of the World’s Ultimate Strongman, who will be coming to the UAE for the first time on October 26, told Khaleej Times the reason he picked to have the event in October was because of the challenge. “The fitness challenge is an excellent platform for raising awareness about the movement as a family, and being active as a whole. We strategically picked the date so that it kicks off amidst the general buzz of 30×30 fitness challenge.”

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Kelly Clarke

Originally from the UK, Kelly Clarke joined Khaleej Times in November 2012. She has a keen interest in humanitarian issues and took over as the dedicated Education Reporter in August 2016. In her spare time she loves to travel off the beaten track, and often write about her quirky experiences of pastures new. Kelly received her BA Honours in Journalism from Middlesex University, UK in 2008. Before joining Khaleej Times she worked as a Supervising Editor for three Healthcare titles in London. @KellyAnn_Clarke


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