The National’s staff and Haddins Fitness collaborate for a healthier 2016

On your marks, get set, go! Follow The National staff as we gear up for a fitness challenge in 2016.

Participants must enjoy exercise the way it is meant to be enjoyed, says Michael Haddin, the managing director of Haddins Fitness. Silvia Razgova / The National
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One of the most common New Year's resolutions is getting fit and for The National staff, it's no different. This year, however, we're determined to be among the small percentage of people who achieve their New Year goals, and to make sure this happens, we've organised a staff fitness challenge.

Working with trainers from Haddins Fitness, dietitian Fatima Sadek from the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre and nutritionist Stephanie Karl from JTS Medical, our team will be put through their paces – physically, mentally and nutritionally – over the next eight weeks.

Although some of the team – reporters and photographers – are out on assignment during the day, a lot of The National's magic happens at the desk, making it vital for our team to ensure that physical activity is a part of the daily routine.

But to make it a habit, this routine needs to have five key elements, explains Michael Haddin, the managing director of Haddins Fitness.

“It must be planned, easily accessible, time efficient, generate desired results and, most importantly, it must be fun,” he says.

“If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, it’s only a matter of time before you stop turning up. We need to make sure our participants enjoy exercise the way it is meant to be enjoyed.”

Bearing this in mind, we’ve split our 26 participants into three groups. One group will complete Haddins’ hugely popular Primal Transformation, now in its 24th series.

The second will participate in the Cross-Fit-style Workout of the Day, and the third group will be training for their first triathlon, TriYas, on February 26.

Nutrition is a key element of any health plan and our groups will be following three different eating programmes. The Primal Transformation participants will follow a Paleo or caveman diet which focuses on whole foods and eliminates processed foods, certain grains and dairy products.

The WOD group will work with ICLDC dietitian Fatima Sadek to learn about healthy eating habits, food groups, calories, reading food labels and portion control, while those training for the triathlon will work closely with nutritionist Stephanie Karl to ensure they have the right fuel to meet their energy requirements.

“Nutrition is critical for both mind and physical performance,” says Karl. “In the prelims of a sporting event, optimising body weight is important to conserve energy, especially in an endurance event.

Alongside this, fuelling for fitness and improved oxygen transfer is in sharp contrast to losing pounds.”

The National's listings editor Ellen Fortini, who has signed up for the WOD programme, has been on a health kick, focusing on nutrition, high-intensity interval training and cycling, but is looking to step it up a notch next year.

“I achieved great results so I plan to continue with what has become a lifestyle, but to add in new elements and options and to push myself even further,” she says.

“This coming July will be 20 years since I joined the US army and got into the best shape of my life, because it was my job to be fit. Now having a sedentary job, it’s a long shot but I hope to get back into military shape in 2016.

“Fitness is always the most obvious New Year’s resolution and can be the hardest to follow through with, but I succeeded this year and I have every intention of seeing how far living a fit life takes me in 2016. It may no longer be my job, but it can be a priority.”

We’ll be providing weekly updates on the fitness challenge with training and nutrition tips, and if you want to train alongside our staff, you can sign up for any of the programmes with Haddins Fitness.

Members of the public who sign up for the Primal Transformation, which starts on January 17, can win Dh20,000 – ActiveLife by Daman and Haddins are offering the cash prize to the person who has the greatest body transformation at the end of the programme.

• To sign up for any of the Haddins Fitness programmes, including the Community Triathlon Training Team which starts on Sunday, visit