Ahead of an action-packed weekend at Yas Family Fitness Fest, we find out how a creating a culture of health runs in the family and why community plays such an important role in wellness
It always seems to be the case that we ring in the New Year with a set of health resolutions that we’re not sure we can keep.
We promise we’ll eat better, go to bed earlier and we’re adamant that we’ll go to the gym more, even if it means resenting every second and sore muscle that follows.
But when it comes to your health and fitness, we’ll let you in on a secret: It doesn’t have to be boring, you don’t have to hate it and you don’t even have to eat a salad if you don’t want to.
If you want to have some fun while getting fit and bring the clan too, then we’ve got the perfect solution for you, and it’s all happening over two action-packed days. On 26th and 27th January, Yas Family Fitness Fest is going to punch your activity level up a gear for a weekend of health, exercise and nutrition – and there’s even AED 5,000 worth of competition prizes for one lucky participant to take home.
Zumba, hip-hop, martial arts, cooking and a huge inflatable obstacle course are all on the schedule – we promise you’ll never say working out is boring again. And who knows: you and your little ones might even find a new sport together.
A culture of health
With wellness the name of the game, the Yas Family Fitness Fest is all about getting us up and moving, with a view to instilling a habit that lasts well after the weekend is over.
“This is a great cause, because it’s about being active as a family, rather than being a race or competition,” says Omar Al Duri, event ambassador, World Cup footballer and head coach at the UAE Football Association. ”It’s about creating a culture where we can develop good habits and things we can all do together.
“Habits only take 21 days to form – and we want to help people have awareness of being fit and healthy, moving more and maybe trying something you might not normally do.
“It doesn’t have to be about numbers or an obsessive goal,” Omar adds. “It can just be about health. It’s about how you feel. Don’t dwell on what you think you should do, because the moment you say ‘should’, it sounds like a chore.”
Fellow ambassador and 11-time Guinness World Record breaker Eva Clarke agrees with Omar: “The UAE’s culture is changing; it’s becoming more and more diverse with new people, foods and influences coming in. What people need to understand is how to eat, exercise and move, and, crucially, how to balance that.
“The thing about community and events like this is that they engage people,” Eva adds. “You need to find that one thing that just clicks for you, and get out there and test the water. The Yas Family Fitness Fest is the place to do that. You also need to find your people – someone you can be accountable to and who motivates you to keep it up.
“The community is so important for sharing information too,” she comments. “You don’t have to pay a lot of money to get the experts in – you can go to events like this and take what you need from it for free to implement into your own life.”
At the end of the day, the bottom line with the event, says Omar, is for people simply to come along, have fun and reignite their passion for fitness.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you’re from, it’s all about showing up, having fun and being a community. I’m looking forward to seeing kids and their parents smiling and having a great time – that’s the aim of it all.”
An active generation
With family and community at the core of the Yas Family Fitness Fest, health isn’t
just important for you as a person, but those that look up to you, too – and educating the next generation can bring health benefits for the future.
“It’s our role as adults to mentor and make things become habitual for children,” Omar says. “This is something we need to do to prevent the mistakes we made repeating themselves for the next generation.”
Parents and guardians have a responsibility to their kids when it comes to health, agrees Eva: “Everything starts at home. We need to lead by example – monkey see, monkey do. If your children see that you care about your health and wellbeing, it becomes part of your family dynamic.”
Eva plans to practise exactly what she preaches, too, as she’s hosting a parent and child fitness class live on stage with her daughter Isabella at the festival.
“It’s so exciting getting to work with her as a mum on stage and getting other parents to get out there and move with their kids,” Eva reflects. “We, as parents, need to engage them and nurture this culture so it spreads outside of the home.”
But if parents are instrumental in instilling good habits, the younger generation also has something to teach the adults when it comes to exercise, and that’s that we could stand to recapture our sense of fun about the whole thing.
“We all have that child in us and have things we enjoy doing,” observes Omar. “But when we’re adults it’s almost a case of disguising being active. Adults need to know that it’s okay to be goofy if you want to; it’s okay to dance around and let your hair down.”
It’s a sentiment Eva wholeheartedly agrees with: “That’s the problem,” she says. “We’ve moved away from that Peter Pan inside us all. You don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill because everybody else does.
“We need to understand that moving doesn’t have to be inside a gym. Get out there, take an adult gymnastics class, try parkour. Your body is its own gym, you just need to know how to move it.”
Best of the fest
Slide, jump, bounce and run through the inflatable obstacle course with the family, running all weekend long.
Think you’re tough enough? It’s time to test your mettle with Primal Gym’s truck-pulling challenge.
Need nutrition inspiration? Head to the Slim & Lite and Souq Planet Healthy Cooking School throughout the weekend, where chefs will be dishing up tasty recipes, including oatmeal, crab salad and protein bites. If you’re feeling confident, join in the cooking challenges.
Don’t miss Eva Clarke and her daughter on stage on 26th January with a heart-pounding bodyweight tabata routine for parents and kids to take part in from 10am to 11am.
Loosen those hips with a fast-paced hip-hop class on 26th January led by Motion Studios at 1pm.
Omar Al Duri will be leading an interactive question and answer session on 27th January on all things fitness and health from 10am to 10.30am.
Yas Family Fitness Fest ambassador Jennifer Chalouhi will be showing off her own brand of exercise with a JumpFit class on 27th January from noon to 12.45pm.
Need to know
What: Yas Family Fitness Fest
When: 26th and 27th January, 9am-5pm
Where: Gateway Park South, Yas Island
Tickets: Free, but online registration required
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez