The Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) returns for a fifth edition of encouraging residents to exercise for 30 minutes a day for 30 straight days. The event, which runs from October 29 to November 27, 2021 has become a mainstay on the Dubai calendar.
Over the years it has also proved a vital entry point to exercise and an active lifestyle for many, while helping others achieve new fitness goals and milestones. With a huge range of related events taking place across the emirate, Livehealthy rounds up what to look out for in the 2021 Dubai Fitness Challenge.
Run and Ride on Sheikh Zayed
Unquestionably one of the highlights of DFC, the Dubai Run takes place on Friday November 26 and gives participants the rare opportunity to run down the (thankfully closed off) Sheikh Zayed Road. The start line of the Dubai Run, presented by Mai Dubai, is near the iconic Museum of the Future, with competitors able to take a 5km or 10km route past many of the city’s other recognisable landmarks.
Before that, those on two wheels can take to the SZR as part of Dubai Ride, presented by DP World, on November 5. Last year’s event was an amazing spectacle, with tens of thousands of cyclists taking over the lanes of Sheikh Zayed Road. A 14km general route is open for cyclists aged 10+, while a shorter 4km family route takes in Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard and the Burj Khalifa.
The race is on
Beyond the Dubai Run and Dubai Ride, there are a huge number of other partner events and races for those looking to add a slightly more competitive element to their DFC experience. The La Mer Open Water Swim, for example, takes place on November 6 with 200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m (1 mile) or 3200m circuits, as well as just-for-fun team relays. The DEKA Mile Al Seef on November 26 is an indoor decathlon set over an 1.6km obstacle course, during which competitors stop to take on other challenges like burpees, lunges and rowing. Elsewhere, among many others, there is The Night Run at Run At The Track, a floodlit foray around Dubai Autodrome, and functional fitness competition the Under Armour Turf Games – happening at Nad al Sheba.
There will be three DFC ‘Fitness Villages’ open for business for the next month, providing a trio of hubs across the city for events and activities. The EXPO 2020 village, located adjacent to Mobility Gate, boasts 5,400sqm of space dedicated to sports, fitness and wellbeing, including a multi-purpose court for netball, basketball, volleyball and tennis, as well as a five-a-side football pitch and state-of-the art gym. The Harlem Globetrotters will launch the venue’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament, while the Expo Run — with 3km, 5km and 10km routes — will take place on November 19.
The DP World Fitness Village Kite Beach has 16 sports and fitness zones, including basketball and Padel Tennis courts, a pop-up football pitch, a ladies-only area and an enormous inflatable obstacle course. Live classes from the region’s top fitness ambassadors and instructors will take place on the village’s Etisalat Main Stage.
At Mai Dubai Fitness Village Mushrif Park, a sports day-style kids’ zone is packed full of activities, while there are men’s and ladies swimming pools where both weekend competitions and activities such as Aqua Zumba, HIIT and aerobics will take place. The venue also has a multi-functional gym and a ladies-only fitness space, while light-based reflex training system BlazePod will test visitors’ balance, coordination, reaction time and strength.
Dubai Padel Cup debut
Padel Tennis’ popularity in the UAE has been booming recently and in response, the inaugural Dubai Padel Cup will take place at Jumeirah Emirates Towers as part of this year’s DFC. Exhibition matches with some of the world’s top-ranked professionals will take place over three days, while there will be an open amateur championship for people keen to compete. Numerous Padel locations around Dubai will offer learn-to-play sessions and coaching clinics too.
Smaller fitness hubs are due to open up at Zabeel Ladies Clubs, Hatta, Uform Fitness Hub at D3, One Central, Dubai Media City, DIFC, Dubai Police Officers Club, DMCC, Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), Dubai Studio City, La Mer, Champs Sports & Fitness Club, Dubai Digital Park and Dubai Sports City — meaning most Dubai residents will be close to a location where free fitness access is available.
Not everyone may feel confident enough, or have the time, to participate in live DFC events, however. Online workouts offer an excellent alternative while ‘Find Your 30’ is DFC’s virtual content hub, offering people the chance to craft and tailor their own 30-day fitness programmes. It offers a wide selection of at-home workouts and custom-made content for kids too in conjunction with Dubai Parks and Resorts and the popular PJ Masks TV show.
Special edition sneakers
The Dubai Fitness Challenge will have its own limited edition running shoe for the first time, created in partnership with ASICS. The Dubai edition of the iconic ASICS GEL-KAYANO™ 28 shoe is inspired by the city’s coordinates, skyline and colors and will be on sale online and through sports retailers across Dubai for the duration of the Challenge.
Steppi up to the challenge
UAE-based health and fitness app Steppi will allow DFC participants to track their progress this year, as well as offer a series of fun challenges to help people stay motivated. Individuals, friends and family, Government organisations, corporates, schools and universities can go head-to-head to complete daily activity targets and win prizes from some of Dubai’s biggest brands. DFC participants are also eligible for a 90-day free trial of FitBit Premium.
• The Dubai Fitness Challenge runs from October 29 to November 27 – register at www.dubaifitnesschallenge.com
Mark is a Dubai-based writer who has couch-surfed through Ukraine, broken bread with football fans in Basra, and appeared on a boxing reality TV show in the UAE – all in pursuit of a good story. Or at least an average anecdote.