Emirati Zumba teacher wants to spread her passion

Farah Al Sharid is launching Fit Fun Female, a free event open to all women, on Saturday.
DUBAI, UAE. November 9, 2014 - Emirati Farah Al Sharid is photographed at The Fridge in Dubai, November 9, 2014. (Photos by: Sarah Dea/The National, Story by:Mel Swan, News)
DUBAI, UAE. November 9, 2014 - Emirati Farah Al Sharid is photographed at The Fridge in Dubai, November 9, 2014. (Photos by: Sarah Dea/The National, Story by:Mel Swan, News)

DUBAI // Farah Al Sharid, an Emirati has taken steps to use fitness to unite the community’s women, local and expatriate alike.

The 28-year-old marketing executive swaps her abaya for fitness apparel after work, teaching women-only Zumba classes. This weekend, she will take her passion further, launching Fit Fun Female, a free event open to women of all ages and fitness levels. “The whole point of this is supporting each other, having fun and being positive,” Ms Al Sharid said.

She wants to encourage others to be more active and her own journey was not easy.

“I got a bit bullied in the beginning when I first became a teacher and the other Emirati women would say mean things in Arabic about me because they didn’t think I understood or believe I would be an Emirati doing this,” she said. “I don’t want the gym to be that negative place. I’ve seen them being mean about really big girls which is awful as they’re working so hard and I’m so proud of them. That’s what this event is about, support.”

She is personally funding the event, at The Fridge in Al Quoz. She will teach Zumba alongside other classes and there will be food and entertainment in an environment encouraging healthier living and showing the fun side of health and fitness.

“There should be more events like this bringing together locals and expats,” Ms Al Sharid said. “Nobody is catering to women only other than the gyms, which means we are automatically excluded if we have to be covered. I want to push active living but in an environment where you can all feel safe and positive.”

Shaikha Nasser, 30, an Emirati group fitness instructor, will also be teaching at the event. She gained her qualifications last year despite a full-time government job.

Ms Nasser hopes to spread her passion for fitness to the rest of the Emirati community.

“My role is to raise awareness about fitness especially among local girls and change their ideas. Health and fitness awareness here still isn’t that high,” she said. “The more locals that see it, the more it will encourage them to do this too. They are shy to become instructors and just need someone to encourage them.”

She hopes the event will leave a legacy. “I hope the women leave feeling inspired to go to the gym rather than just coming to this as a one-day event.”

Kerrie Alder, founder of Lorna Jane Dubai activewear for women, is another event supporter. She has been involved in other events in recent years that encourage Emirati women to be more active. She tries to bring together the local and expatriate communities by setting up things such as the Lorna Jane run club at Dubai Ladies Club.

Ms Alder has been in the UAE for 12 years.

“Working with many Emiratis, as well as Arab women and men, I now understand the challenges women face in active living, both culturally and educationally. Many women are embracing active living but face resistance or challenges in that their immediate friendship circle, family or work colleagues has not yet joined their quest for active living and a healthier life style. So they are often doing this alone. All that is needed is support and encouragement of these women, and there are plenty of Emirati stars waiting to shine. This event showcases just a few.”

Having Emirati fitness instructors sends a positive message.

“It demonstrates to other Emirati and Arab women that a career in the health and fitness industry and leading the way in motivating others to lead a healthy active life is something to be proud of.”

The event will be on Saturday from 9.30am at The Fridge, Al Serkal Avenue, Al Qouz.

mswan@thenational.ae

Published: November 13, 2014 04:00 AM

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