Boot camps and brain power with Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Wells at Dubai Active

Ahead of their work out in the city, the fitness influencers talk motivation and mindfulness with The National

Fitness influencer Kayla Itsines will host her OG boot camp in Dubai on November 26. Photo: Dubai Active
Powered by automated translation

With a combined reach of 19 million on Instagram, Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Wells dominate the online fitness scene and followers embrace their ethos and apps.

This month, fans in Dubai have the chance to work out with them in person.

Itsines, who is the founder of the Sweat platform, and Wells, who advocates the PWR (power) workout style, will host fitness classes and meet-and-greet sessions at Dubai Active from November 24 to 26 at Dubai World Trade Centre.

Ahead of it, they tell The National what keeps them motivated and how important mindfulness is when striving for better health.

Dubai Active: What to expect

Australian Itsines, who has 16 million Instagram followers, launched her Bikini Body Workout for women in 2014, before co-founding the Sweat app a year later. Today, her mission is to empower women through exercise and give them the confidence to make positive, lasting changes.

On Saturday, Itsines will host a Q&A and meet-and-greet, followed by the OG Kayla boot camp on Sunday.

For American trainer Wells, mental resilience is vital to well-being, and she aims to bring a sense of peace and perspective to the participants of her Dubai sessions. “Caring for our health means not exercising out of guilt or as a punishment to our bodies,” she says.

“At Dubai Active, I’ll be doing a boot camp that incorporates mindfulness tools into the movement. It will be a challenging workout, but we will also be setting an intention and thanking our bodies afterwards and doing some things that are a little bit perhaps unconventional in this setting, but they're so powerful.”

The Saturday boot camp will be followed by a live Q&A on Sunday, and Wells encourages attendees not to hold back. “I want whoever is there to be able to ask anything and chat about whatever is on their minds. I’m an open book and I just want to touch base with the community and keep it authentic.”

Staying motivated: Kayla Itsines top five tips

Even fitness stars like Itsines can struggle with mindset from time to time, and the mother of two recommends incorporating healthy habits into daily life to stay on track.

“For me, prioritising healthy habits is about so much more than getting a workout in,” she says. “I try to find time to move my body every day, whether that’s training at home, heading to the gym or going for a walk. I also prioritise sleep, keep myself hydrated, monitor electrolyte levels and make sure I’m eating foods that makes me feel good. Having quality time with my family is also non-negotiable.

“As a mum, every day is different, which means I have very little structure and consistency day to day. I don’t work out at the same time each day, for example,” she says.

Here are Itsines’s top five tips for staying motivated.

Decide what your goals are: Creating fitness goals is the best way to harness your motivation and set yourself up for long-term success.

Understand your why: This is different for everyone, but can help you commit to healthier habits and will keep driving you forward when time gets tough. Setting goals is one thing, but knowing why you want to achieve them is another.

Treat your workouts like an appointment: If you’re struggling to find the time in your diary to work out, this will make it easier. Treat the time you’ve set aside to train like you would a doctor’s appointment, work call or haircut.

Find a workout buddy: A workout buddy can keep you accountable, help you stay on track and add some fun or friendly competition to your sessions.

Find a personal trainer: Qualified trainers can provide you with online programmes backed by their years of experience, clients, science and research.

Staying mindful: Kelsey Wells’s top tips for inner peace

For Wells, who made headlines with her ditch-the-scale message, fitness was a vital tool for regaining confidence and overcoming postpartum anxiety after the birth of her son nine years ago.

“The first step towards healing is acceptance,” she says. “So often we sit in this place of shame, but you’ve got to be gentle with yourself and choose to give yourself grace.”

She has a powerful message for anyone struggling with self-image: “It’s not your fault. I can guarantee that, but you won't be able to truly heal and get to a healthier place within yourself if you don't accept where you are – we can't ever hate our way into self-love.

“Step one is to give yourself a pat on the back and be proud for even acknowledging that you want to be healthier and make a change.”

Wells uses three simple tools to stay mindful during every workout, whether one-on-one in the gym or in front of hundreds of participants.

Set an intention: Before the session, take a moment and decide why you are exercising. It can be as basic as I'm exercising today to care for my health or as a celebration of my body.

Incorporate affirmations: It can feel a little foreign, but something really powerful can happen when we are intentional about our thoughts, especially during times of tension or duress.

Practise gratitude: Every workout I do, whether it’s a walk with my family or a power session in the gym, I take a deep breath and, as I exhale, I tell my body “thank you”. It’s a simple but important reminder that no matter how we treat or speak to our body, it still loves us and carries us every day throughout our lives. Recognising that it’s something to be grateful for is a beautiful, powerful thing.

Dubai Active is from November 24-26. Tickets start at Dh50 and are available from Virgin Megastore

Updated: November 17, 2023, 10:33 AM