Dubai bootcamp challenge: trade flab for cash

Fitness programme offers cash incentives for shedding the flab

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DUBAI // Overweight residents have the chance to fatten their wallets if they can slim down their waistlines by following an eight-week fitness programme.
Bootcamp company American Fitness is offering Dh10,000 to the person who shows the biggest transformation in their weight and overall health in their Body Challenge.
Salma Ismail Branford, the co-founder of the challenge, said money was a great motivating factor for people to lose weight.
"I think it's a big incentive," she said. "Many people might just register because they see the big cash prize.
"There isn't any other programme in Dubai that offers that kind of money just to lose weight."
The winner will be chosen after two months by comparing before and after photos. As well as the top prize, two Dh5,000 awards will be given to the "most inspiring" man and woman.
It is the third time the company has organised the challenge, which is being held at the same time as Dubai Municipality's Your Weight in Gold campaign, which offers participants a gram of gold for every kilogram they lose.
"I'm sure it will get people motivated and more willing to partake than if there was no incentive," said Enisa Glavovich, who runs health website Noviplus.
"The incentive should be simply becoming healthy. But if it takes financial incentives to get people moving, and it works, then that should be welcomed."
Since starting earlier this year, the programme has seen 800 people pay the Dh250 joining fee to sign up. Dubai Municipality's campaign is free to join.
Ms Branford said challengers receive three free bootcamp sessions, a daily meal plan and online training videos for those who can't make classes.
In addition, whereas the municipality's campaign is based on the amount of weight a person loses, the Body Challenge focuses more on "transformation", said Ms Branford.
"We don't look at weight so much as how they look," she said. "We base it on how dramatic the transformation is in pictures. A person can be very skinny and they put on a lot of muscle, so they gain weight on the scale."
Although most people follow the programme through to the end, only a handful get round to posting their before and after pictures.
Out of hundreds who took part in the first season, only about 40 posted pictures to the challenge's website.
"A lot of people are very wary about putting their pictures up," said Ms Branford. "However, there are always a lot more people who complete the challenge. We've had several people 'transform' and the results were amazing."
However, not everyone in the fitness community agrees with the idea of offering financial rewards to get people to drop the pounds.