Dubai Fitness Challenge 2019: everything you need to know about this year's 30-day event

Sheikh Hamdan's initiative will kick off this Friday

From cycling events to triathlons and HIIT classes, the Dubai Fitness Challenge offers something for everyone. Courtesy Dubai Fitness Challenge
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The third edition of Dubai Fitness Challenge starts on Friday, October 18 and will run for 30 days, until Saturday, November 30, when, if all goes well, a good proportion of the emirate's population will have firmly embedded exercise into the fabric of their lives.

At least that was the idea behind it all, when Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, launched the initiative back in 2016, as it encourages participants to do at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity every day for the full 30 days.

Recurring activities, one-off events, workshops, and health and wellness programmes will be taking place across the city throughout October and November. While there will be more than 40 citywide events and 4,000-plus classes and activities to choose from, here's a guide to the biggest and best from this year's schedule.

The Dubai Fitness Challenge begins on Friday, October 18, 2019. Courtesy Dubai Fitness Challenge
The Dubai Fitness Challenge begins on Friday, October 18, 2019. Courtesy Dubai Fitness Challenge

Find your 30

New for this year, the Find Your 30 concept is a knowledge hub accessible to everyone via the DFC website. Here, you’ll find articles, videos and podcasts that focus on health at large, from physical fitness to mental well-being, plus diet and nutrition tips. The aim is to help readers and viewers navigate their lifestyles better using inspiring stories and straightforward hacks. The digital section will be put together by the athletes, trainers and doctors who are on Dubai Fitness Challenge’s roster of experts.

Fitness Centres

Working out lies at the heart of DFC, which aims to get people moving, no matter where in the city they live, what their fitness level is and what sport or class they are interested in. Budget, too, is not an issue as the majority of these activities are free, although you’ll need to register for some. This year, participants can visit two fitness villages, 10 community fitness hubs or 30 spaces that are part of the City is a Gym activation. Among them, these cover close to 5,000 sessions over the course of 30 days in nearly evey location in the emirate.

Fitness villages

Kite Beach and Dubai Festival City will be home to two themed fitness villages, and will serve as the epicentres of the event, as it were. The Kite Beach village is presented by Enoc, Etisalat and Meraas, and is an open-air venue dedicated to both inland and on-water sports, including kayaking, paddleboarding, basketball, soccerfootball, yoga, meditation, combat sports, obstacle courses and a main workout stage that will have back-to-back group sessions. The venue is open from 7am until 9pm from Sunday to Wednesday and until 11pm from Thursday to Saturday.

The Festival City village, presented by Dewa, Fitbit and Al Futtain, is both indoors and outdoors. In addition to the usual sports and sessions, it will also host the Imagine Fitness Workout every day at 7.15pm and 9.15pm. Anyone who’s has caught Imagine’s A Pirate’s Tale laser show on the gargantuan water-projection screen in the Festival Bay arena can … er , well, imagine how cool this workout will be, combining as it does fitness choreography with the show’s water and visual effects. Another fun way to get your 30 minutes for the day is to hire a bike (free ofcost charge) and ride along the Festival City promenade towards Marsa Beach to catch a game of volleyball between 3pm and 7pm. The village is open from noon until 10pm from Sunday to Wednesday and until midnight from Thursday to Saturday.

Running events

There are loads of chances to perfect your running technique throughout the challenge. There will be triathlons in Mamzar Park and Hatta, ultramarathon build-up runs every Friday, a half marathon on Friday, October 25, and the Desert Road Runners Cross Country event on Friday, November 8 – to name just a few. Visit the website for a full list of running events, timings and entry fees.

Swimming sessions

A focus is being placed on swimming events. The weather is perfect for it, after all. Take part in the King & Queen swim at The Pointe, which invites water-lovers of all ages to swim a variety of lengths, from 200 metres to a full mile, on Friday, October 25. There's also the Daman DXB SwimFest on Saturday, November 9, which is open to amateur swimmers from the age of eight and up, plus the La Mer Open Water Swim Series, taking place on Saturday, November 16, with racing, music and plenty of community spirit.

Celebrity appearance

The Body Coach Joe Wicks, best known for his Lean in 15 recipe books, will be in town on Saturday, October 26 to lead a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class and to break a Guinness World Record. The aim is for this to be the world's largest group HIIT workout, so he'll need all the bodies he can get for this one. It will take place at Skydive Dubai and it will only be open to participants who have a basic level of fitness and who are aged 18 and over. If you fit the bill, you can sign up here.

Charity workouts

There are a couple of opportunities to give back while working out during this year's programme. For a start, you could join the Pink Ladies Challenge, an all-female event that invites teams of three to five women to battle it out against other teams across six fun challenges and obstacles, all to support The Pink Caravan breast cancer charity. That's on Friday, October 25. A couple of weeks later, on Friday, November 15, the Beat Diabetes Walk will take place. Now in its 11th year, the community event will see hordes of walkers wander around Zabeel Park. All of the entry fees go to Al Jalila Foundation in support of diabetes research and healthcare in the UAE.

Obstacle courses

If you're particularly fit, you might want to take part in one of the fun obstacle courses that'll be taking place. There's Tough Mudder, which is for people with intermediate to advanced fitness levels, and which sees teams of friends take on one of the world's toughest and muddiest courses on Friday, November 15. Participants can try a 5K with 13-plus obstacles, a 10K classic or the Tougher Mudder, with more than 25 tasks to complete. Earlier in the month, on Friday, November 1, there's also the Mercedes-Benz Challenge, which invites 100 teams to complete seven challenges hidden across the city in order to win a new Mercedes-Benz GLC 200.

Pop-up gyms

“City is a Gym” is a new concept, which is part of DFC’s virtual content hub. Marcus Smith, founder of Inner Fight, has put together workouts suitable to 30 different locations – from walkways and running tracks to parks – spread out across the city. Each session follows a warm-up, workout and cool-down format and uses no equipment. Participants can visit any of the locations, scan a QR code pole on their mobiles and access the workout tailor-made for that venue.

Here’s where all you can train with a virtual Smith egging you on: Burj Plaza, Al Seef, Palm Jumeirah - The Boardwalk or Al Ittihad Park, Dubai Creek, Dubai Marina, DXBike at Meydan, JBR – The Beach or The Walk, Satwa – the park or 2nd December Street, Dubai Water Canal – La Perle or near the beach, Discovery Gardens, Jumeirah Beach – behind Sunset Mall or near Burj Al Arab, La Mer, Al Barsha Pond Park, Al Mamzar Beach Park, DMCC Park in JLT, Mushrif Park, Safa Park, Zabeel Park, Karama Park, Al Shindagha Historical District, Quranic Park, South Ridge Park, D3 basketball court, The Lakes Park, Bay Avenue in Business Bay, Al Qudra and even Hatta.

Fitness classes

There are literally thousands of classes and sessions to take part in away from the main events. All you need to do to is download the dedicated Dubai Fitness App to see what's on when and where, and track your progress over the 30 days. You can monitor your workouts, sync it with other top fitness apps and generally join the fitness community that's forever growing in Dubai. You can download this for free on the App Store and Google Play.

More information can be found at


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