The iconic Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi played host to a magnificent show of lights, music and running on Friday night.
Thousands of runners from around the UAE travelled to take part in the Electric Run 2016, which featured a 5km run, a DJ (obviously playing electric dance music), plenty of face painting, food-and-beverage vendors and lots of happy UAE residents.
After the power failure of Dubai’s Electric Run last year organisers were especailly keen to see the Abu Dhabi event run without a hitch, and that is exactly what happened.
Run in conjunction with Daman and ActiveLife, the fun run aims to highlight the importance of exercise and the benefits of healthy living.
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If you’re stuck in a rut at the gym, it might be because you’re doing the same routine over and over again and could do with a change. It’s true, the standard gym membership is out (as well as admittedly hard to commit to), and fun class-sampling programmes, such as Dubai’s GuavaPass, are in.
Through the innovative online fitness network, bored, busy and wannabe fitness fanatics can have their fill of the whole buffet trying various gyms and classes across town for a teensy monthly fee.
On top of that, the hand-picked classes and facilities are far from traditional. Through GuavaPass, this could be the year you finally give aerial silks, pole or trampoline fitness a go; just some of the crazy classes on offer alongside tried and trusted burns like kickboxing, spin class and CrossFit.
Founded in Singapore early last year by Jeffrey Liu and Rob Pachter, GuavaPass was created to change the way people perceive and pursue healthy living, to motivate and build an active community. Pachter said: “We want our members to always look forward to their next workout, live their full potential and be inspired every day.”
Adding to GuavaPass’ flexible approach to discovering fitness, users can also gain access to thousands of other branches that have partnered with the brand worldwide, including those in Manila, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta, Melbourne and other parts of the Middle East, to name a few.
Needless to say, the service has gained huge popularity with airline crew and the jet-setting population in general, and excuses not to work out are fast becoming a thing of the past.
GuavaPass’ Head of Product internationally and Dubai General Manager, Melissa Tran says: “The founders were expats in Singapore and, while there, were finding it difficult to look up fitness classes in their area and so came up with the idea to bring different studios together to make the process of discovering new classes easier. It’s similar to ClassPass in the US, but reaching out to the Asian market.
“We launched in Dubai in September 2015 and are already tied with 55+ studios across the city, and we’re hoping soon to expand to other places in the UAE and GCC,” she adds.
Some of the popular high-end (and generally not cheap!) facilities in Dubai you’ll get to have a taste of as a GuavaPass member include Urban Energy Fitness, FAST Athletic Training, Bounce Middle East, Physique 57, Rawr Yoga, Fit Boys Gym, Round 10 Boxing Club, and Club Stretch, all for just Dh449 per month.
This fee allows you to take as many classes as you want at any partnered facility (although up to three per studio), and according to the website, there are about a dozen different workouts offered each day at varying times.
It’s an incredibly affordable way to stay motivated, and you can try your hand at widely varied workouts, from Parkour to Power Yoga, as well as take advantage of ‘GuavaPerks’ such as exclusive access to wellness events and health experts across the city.
“I think it’s great for the studios themselves too,” adds Tran, “because it allows them to reach a new audience that they’ve maybe not thought about before.
“Most of all, GuavaPass gives people flexibility and choice. It allows people to find whatever form of fitness it is that best fits into their schedule and their lifestyle. You’re not tied down to one single gym any longer, and you can try, and learn, different things.
“The best feedback that I get from members is like ‘I’ve tried three different activities this week that I otherwise would never have thought of doing before’, and we really like to hear that.”
A less-than-auspicious debut last November saw a power failure ironically delay the start of the Electric Run by nearly an hour and runners had water confiscated.
But a totally-different experience is expected in Abu Dhabi, which will take place at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit on Friday. Regional director for event organisers Fast Track David Sanderson is hopeful this time the race will be remembered for all the right reasons.
“The overarching point is that anyone who came to Dubai and is coming to Abu Dhabi will experience a different event,” he said.
“For anyone who went or heard anything negative about Dubai they should come along to Abu Dhabi and see what we’ve done to enhance the event. That will be worth coming along to.”
Sanderson refused to shy away from some of the glaring issues which dogged the inaugural Electric Run held in the Emiates a few months ago and instead moved to explain how organisers had worked tirelessly to ensure the capital city race will run as smoothly as possible.
“Any event will always have teething problems,” admitted the Australian.
“The biggest issue at Dubai was a power failure, specifically on the start line which caused a 45 minute delay.
“Unfortunately these things happen, it was out of our control.
“There was also a water issue. Security took water from people at the very beginning of the event. We corrected that as soon as possible to allow people to bring in their own bottles and isotonic drinks. There was water provided on the course although some people felt that wasn’t enough and we’ve listened to those people and there will be multiple stations on course.”
Sanderson said he and his team have responded to feedback from the 10,500 plus runners that attended November’s race, while they have enhanced the race in other areas, including adding more ‘lands’ to the circuit, such as ‘Electric Avenue’ and an as yet unnamed one which will remain top secret until race day.
“We’re really excited about Abu Dhabi. We’re really excited about taking the event to Yas Marina Circuit for the first time,” he added.
“We looked at the Dubai event and have taken feedback from people involved and we’ve thought how we can improve the Abu Dhabi event.”
With hopes the Abu Dhabi race will now go ahead incident free, Sanderson says it is time for participants to get excited about the event known as the world’s brightest 5K night run.
“The reason we brought it out here was the huge increase in people wanting to get involved in non-traditional mass participation events, where you can get off the couch and come and enjoy yourself,” he said. “It makes it more of a social event.”