Fitness is, quite literally, the talk of the town at the moment. And we’re loving the extraordinary challenges being attempted by ordinary people across the emirates. Non-profit organisation Heroes of Hope is the latest to throw its proverbial hat into the ring, with a non-stop, 24-hour workout to honour the athletes of determination who train with the programme.
From 6pm on November 19 to 6pm the next day, coaches of the initiative — led by founder Hollie Murphy — will participate in various sporting and fitness activities every hour for 24 hours in a bid to spotlight inclusivity for people of determination.
Speaking to WKND, Hollie explains the concept behind what is promising to be quite the feat. “The idea behind this is to honour our athletes of determination — who we call heroes — who face and surmount numerous challenges every day. It’s also a way to recognise their families, who make sacrifices around the clock, every day, for their loved ones with additional needs.”
Every workout is inspired by one of their athletes and designed after the kind of sport they enjoy doing. ‘Alex’, for example, is an obstacle course taking place to the soundtrack of Super Mario. ‘Kieran’ will see the coaches tackle a football-based workout that reflects its namesake’s love of the game. Members of the community are welcome to participate in the various activities, which will include a bike ride along Kite Beach, a sea swim and more.
It’s not the physical challenge that Hollie, a former PE teacher, anticipates will be tough, but the mental. “The coaches really want to support our athletes though, so this is the real spirit behind what we’re trying to achieve.”
Hollie compares their athletes of determination to The Avengers (of Marvel Comics fame). “Like The Avengers, our Heroes live in the shadows too. And they all have their own superpower — especially when they’re put in a place where they’re embraced for who they are. In that community, they feel visible.”
She tells of how they recently went out to train for the Garmin Quest Race, which combines kayaking, running and mountain biking in Hatta. The event will take place on December 18 and see a team of athletes of determination participate for the first time. “Our athletes proved themselves very capable and enjoyed every second. Even when they felt very challenged, they didn’t give up. And that’s what we’re trying to do: build heroes and give them that belief that they can achieve anything.”
Hollie acknowledges that the local fitness scene doesn’t offer as much as it could for people of determination. “A lot of facilities are not equipped for people with additional needs, nor do they have the knowledge to design a class that could include them.” Nevertheless, she adds, there are definitely a few places coming up that have “that inclusive layer”.
“I think that culture is starting to emerge now. There’s a far more progressive attitude in place about this. So, it’s all about baby steps. Fitness can be hugely beneficial for people of determination — not just physically, but socially too. So, it’s really important to give them the same opportunities to access sports too.”
The upcoming event this week is open to anyone who wants to drop by at the 24 Fitness gym in Al Quoz. For those who are not comfortable with participating physically, a Zoom link will be made available so they can join in and support the initiative from home.
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