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From losing 50kg to discovering new sport: How Dubai Fitness Challenge changed expats’ lives – News

The DFC, now in its sixth edition, has played a tremendous role in influencing the fitness journeys of several people



published: Sat Nov 19, 2022, 6:00 AM

When the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) was launched, the mission was to transform the emirate into the most active, dynamic city in the world. Every year it gets closer to its ultimate goal, but something more incredible happens along the way: people have started to turn their lives around.

Now that the fitness frenzy is underway in the sixth edition, Khaleej times spoke to some people who have found inspiration and decided to change their lifestyle – all thanks to DFC.

One such person was Dr Krishnadas Nanath, Associate Professor and Head of the Data Science Program at Middlesex University Dubai. “My weight almost hit triple digits,” he recalls.

“I decided I had to do something about it and then last year’s fitness challenge rolled around. I had read that it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test that hypothesis.”

For 30 days, Krishnadas exercised for 30 minutes and when the month was over, he continued as usual and started running and cycling regularly.

“The only thing about Dubai is if you want to be fit there are so many events all year round,” he said. “I started participating in a lot of runs and races. This gave me constant goals to keep working towards.”

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The Dubai native has now lost more than 26 kg and is the strongest he has ever been. “People ask me how I find time for fitness,” he said.

“It’s all about priorities. When I watch a movie, no one will ask me how I find time for it. It takes less time than that to complete your exercise. I have now started taking my 3 year old son to events. I want fitness to be an integral part of his life as he grows up.”

Fat became fit

For Husam Mohamed, the challenge was a turning point. Obese, diabetic and struggling with high blood pressure, the Sudanese national decided to use the DFC as a wake-up call.

“I was inspired by how our Crown Prince called on everyone to get fit and healthy,” he said. “I was always a big fan of his. So decided to take up the challenge.”

In a remarkable feat, the Dubai resident lost more than 50 kg. “I could barely walk a few steps without stopping to catch my breath,” he said.

“Today I ran a full marathon, competed in the Spartan World Championship and am now a crossfit and nutrition coach. The DFC was the biggest trigger for the fitness journey of my life.”

Similarly, at one point in his life, Sandeep Sathyan weighed a whopping 118 kg and was hesitant to even post his pictures on social media for fear of ridicule.

However, when the Dubai Municipality started the “Your Weight in Gold” campaign, he was motivated to lose weight.

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Soon after, when the Dubai Fitness Challenge started, he used it as an opportunity to improve his fitness. “I was still learning about exercise and nutrition at the time,” he said. “That one month was a good start for me to start exercising regularly and with dedication.”

Today, the resident of Dubai weighs 70 kg and could not be happier. “My health and confidence have changed dramatically,” he said.

“I think DFC has been a game-changer in my life. As of 2017, friends and I participate in various activities around the city during the month. Instead of doing our usual gym and games, we check out new activities. I love how suddenly fitness becomes everyone’s focus. Most of us in my friends’ group manage to maintain that month’s momentum throughout the year.”

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Taking up a new sport

In 2017, Jeena Jacob had just given birth to her first child and felt overweight and unhappy. When the fitness challenge started, she took it as a sign and decided to get fit.

“There were all these messages about getting fit and staying healthy, so I got motivated by it,” she said. “I’ve always loved sports and was looking for something like football or basketball.”

After searching for a while, she found a club, but it only offered free rugby lessons. “I had never seen a rugby game in my life,” she said. However, that turned out to be a much-needed turning point in her life. Rugby became her comfort as she navigated difficult life situations.

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Today, she is an established rugby player who has competed in several major tournaments in the country. Her dream is to try out for the Indian National Rugby Team. “I know there are some weaknesses I need to work on, but I’m hopeful that I’m going to make it,” she said. “I am so thankful for the DFC and the way it has changed my life.”

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