Fit and fine

The JW Marriott Fitness Challenge 2008 saw 'Dubai's fittest' battle it out for the coveted top spots, one of which was bagged by our very own City Times' staffer Joyce Njeri. The rates of obesity in the UAE are staggering. And with our increased waistlines have come a more dire threat: an increase in diabetes and other serious health risks.

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Published: Sun 24 Aug 2008, 11:24 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:51 PM

City Times’ Joyce Njeri (right) and Adina Cioran, who won second and first place respectively in the female category MOHWe have become a sedentary society hooked on fast food and minimal mobility, too lazy to exercise and too ignorant to care.

So JW Marriott decided to promote a healthier Dubai by organising Fitness Challenge 2008, a competitive arena for amateur athletes to test their strength and endurance. Although contestants competed for token prizes, the more coveted bragging rights a 'Dubai's Fittest' was most sought after.

The fitness challenge was about more than cardio competitions and bench press-a-thons; it was about highlighting a growing problem that few seem to understand or research.

Participants sweat it out at the challengeThere are three major contributors to the rapid rise of obesity: Diet, lifestyle, and education. We live in a culture that promotes over consumption of high fatty foods. We live pampered lifestyles that include very little physical exertion, automobiles, and little or no walking (except though a crowded shopping mall). And finally, we know so very little about what makes us tick. From a young age, children need to be educated about proper nutrition and exercise.

So JW Marriott's 12th anniversary Fitness Challenge relishes in everything good for the heart and body, able to bring together fitness enthusiasts from around the region. But most exciting was Joyce Njeri's second place finishing in the women's arena. A long-time writer and sub-editor for City Times, Njeri covered last year's competition as a journalist. The exposure inspired her to train extensively and compete alongside some of the nation's best.

Fitness at its finest

The fitness challenge attracted some of the best from the cityThe magnificent crystal-bedecked ballroom was packed with many anxious but excited faces. A bunch of these exuded confidence while walking around exhibiting their well-toned biceps and triceps bulges which appeared as if they were popping out of the undersized vests, T-shirts and tiny shorts.

Still others clutched their small water bottles unsure of whether they were ready to take the plunge. This was at the JW Marriott Hotel Dubai, during the fitness challenge that has been billed as the ultimate test of strength, endurance and total body fitness in the UAE.

Scores of fitness enthusiasts gathered at the hotel's grand ballroom ready to put their endurance to test, and they did not disappoint. The participants were drawn from across the UAE and they were representing their respective gyms and health clubs. FitnessFirst fielded the highest number of contestants, who seemed to dominate every discipline and their beautiful gym apparel made a powerful statement: Bring it on.

As the courses got harder and tougher, women freaked out and only two could survive up to the last feat. Loud screams, whistles and chants of, "Come on you can do it buddy" rented the air as fans, escorts, fitness marshals, friends and families urged on their respective candidate to victory.

The organisers were testing strength and cardiovascular fitness in two separate units combined to achieve a single score. The one-day event consisted of seven exercises. The first three tested cardiovascular endurance while the last four courses tested the upper body strength. This is where the men were separated from the boys. The cardiovascular feat involved cycling for 2 km, then moving on to rowing, 1.5 km and finally running on the treadmill for a distance of 1 km.

After a few minutes' rest, competitors moved on to the next level which involved moving or lifting a weight based on a percentage of their body weight. They were given two minutes per discipline to perform as many repetitions as possible. The start was the bench press, an exercise that

tested the pectoral muscles. The second was the Wide Grip Pull that tested the back muscles, then dips and finally the Barbell Full Squats.

In addition to personal achievement and recognition there were a number of top prizes from event sponsors who included Fassi Sport, Al Kamda, Sun & Sand Sports, RAK Bank, Hamarain Tours, Memon Investments, Pocari Sweat, Prommoline and Red Bull. Others were Hakim Albannay, Suleiman Belbehith, Johny Jorge, Abdul Jabbar Ahli, Ayoub Mosadeq, Samir Karimian and MeFit Pro.


Best Athlete: Male

First Place : Franky Spencer

Second Place : Esam Sukar

Third Place : Enrico Martes

Best Physique : Fe Balon

Best in Cardio : Waddah Laham and Tom Donnely

Best in Strength : Gilbert Gruela

Special Prize: Female

First Place : Adina Cioran

Second Place : Joyce Njeri

Master's Award : Philip Robson

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