Having just orchestrated the inaugural Etisalat Fitness Fest, Chris Fountain believes the foundations are in place for an annual event that will cater to absolutely anyone in the UAE who wants to be more active.
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Nearly 8,000 people descended on the Dubai Autodrome earlier this month to attend the event, where participants could try their hand at around 200 different fitness and sport-related activities.
The event had been two years in the making, with the aim to get more people in the UAE outside and active.
While many events held in the UAE are confined to one sport or a cluster of sports, there was literally something for everyone on offer during the three-day event, from boxing, martial arts, zumba, ballroom dancing, ballet, sprint racing, weight lifting, cricket and much more.
Fountain, managing director of Turret Media, organisers of the event, was hugely encouraged by the first Fitness Fest and is already looking ahead to next year.
“You could do up to 200 different activities across the festival and that was a major achievement and we set the foundations for something that can be built upon in the future,” he said. “I’m pretty certain we’ve created an annual fitness festival for Dubai for years to come.”
His enthusiasm is infectious, but even Fountain will admit that topping the first event might be a fairly mountainous task – literally.
One of the major highlights included strong man demonstrations from Hafþor Bjornsson, also known as ‘The Mountain’ from hit TV show, Game of Thrones.
French bodybuilder Morgan Aste, aptly nicknamed ‘The Big Rock’, who weighs close to 163kg, also made an appearance.
Elsewhere, the event also featured the Universal Muscle Fitness & Fashion (UMFF) Championship; the high-flying Gravity Calisthenics Battle of the Bars; knockout performances from the Lee Hurford Boxing Academy and Energetic Zumba shows from renowned choreographer Liana Veda.
“There were so many events and that was the major appeal, there were so many ways to get active,” added Fountain. “There are so many things you can do but the most important thing is to just do something.
"We operate a number of festivals and one thing you get a sense of while living here in Dubai is that it’s an outdoor city. The beach and parks are fantastic and lots of people live in apartments with gyms and pools.
“The outdoor activity is out there and we wanted to celebrate that. I’ve got young children myself and I like to see them active. To celebrate fitness as a way of life, that’s what fuels me, but we didn’t want to just preach to the converted.
“The aim was to create an inclusive event that appeals not to people already interested in getting fit but to people who probably needed a bit of support and encouragement to get active.”
Another highlight was a Q&A session with CrossFit champion Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, who was crowned the fittest woman on the planet in 2014.
“As a first-year event, the Etisalat Fitness Fest surpassed my expectations and the foundations have clearly been laid for an amazing future,” said Leblanc-Bazinet.
“It was such a positive atmosphere and an innovative way to get people thinking about, and participating in, fitness activities.”
Fountain has been encouraged by the feedback and is already eyeing changes that could enhance next year’s event.
He said: “We’ve created something that can be built upon, will grow and attract more and more people year on year.
“Being outdoors, we had music pumping. It worked form a festival perspective and that’s something I think we’ll pursue in the future. We’ll certainly be going ahead with another event in 2016, with some tweaks.”
A great way to develop upper body and lower body muscles is through wide grip pull-ups and cleans.
These are exercises I include in my training regularly and they help to develop speed, technique and general strength in central muscle groups.
Mastering the technique of wide grip pull-ups and cleans is one of the main issues but the more practice will, not only help you to enjoy the workout but help push your body to the limit.
It’s a great way to relieve stress and help you to achieve your fitness goals as we approach the end of another year.
WIDE GRIP PULL-UPS
How do you do it?
Wide grip pull-ups are simple and involves pulling your body up to the tip of the bar 10 times.
In between you can give your body a one minute break before proceeding to the next set – aim to do five sets if you can.
What's the benefit?
You will feel a great burn along your shoulders, arms, chest and back. With practice, this will develop incredible upper body strength and help to add muscle definition.
Your shoulders, back and arms provide the power for this exercise, so be sure to tense these muscles when pulling your body up.
Be sure to inhale and exhale at each rep in order to keep the oxygen flowing around your body. Ask a friend to watch you in order to help improve your technique.
How do you do it?
It looks difficult at the outset but the more you persist with this exercise, the more it will develop speed and power.
Look up, twist the bar and push up. It’s all repetition and practice. It might seem strange but its great training.
What’s the benefit?
This exercise is essential for your hips and groins. The faster you go, the more it will work these muscles. An exercise like cleans does everything – improving your speed, power, technique and endurance.
Try to hold your legs firm when lifting and keep your arms loose in order to execute the repetition with conviction.
One of Dubai’s most popular CrossFit team competitions is coming up this weekend and whether you’re into CrossFit or not, competing or not, you’ll surely be inspired by the display of fitness during the event!
On both Friday and Saturday this coming weekend, Reebok CrossFit Lifespark’s annual team fitness competition will once again make its presence felt in Dubai as athletes from across the region take part in two days of competition.
A classic CrossFit style team competition, FireStorm made its humble debut in 2012, with 24 athletes throwing down in the then newly-opened JLT home of Reebok CrossFit LifeSpark, bringing the fitness community together.
Back by popular demand in 2013 and 2014, the competition kept growing in participation numbers and this year will welcome its biggest numbers yet with around 40 teams of four from the UAE and around the region, in what is sure to be another great show of fitness.
CrossFit Lifespark owner and coach Candice Ford says: “FireStorm started back in 2012 as CrossFit was in its infancy in the city. It was our bid to get the Dubai CrossFit community out of their boxes and onto a shared competition floor. FireStorm has grown year on year in that spirit. It is a classic. For the spectators and athletes alike, the all-team experience is something very different from individual competition. The level of camaraderie, support and community is second to none, and the excitement of the weekend is contagious!”
The event will consist of six main fitness events and 10 scored elements. Last year's Champions CrossFit Yas are back this year to defend their title, and looking at the roster so far it is going to be a very competitive pool of teams.
Athletes and spectators will be able to track the team scores online throughout the weekend, with the leader board being updated and providing live and up to date scores.
Those not competing but wanting to catch some of the action can attend as there will be plenty of room to get a good view of some of the fittest athletes in the region. See what CrossFit is all about and enjoy some time in the sun mingling with the local fitness community!
Come and check out some of the action this Friday and Saturday at the Concorde Tower, Cluster H, JLT (here’s a map).