International health and fitness experts gathered in Abu Dhabi to share their ideas for tackling issues like obesity and diabetes by encouraging people to lead a more active lifestyle.
Effective use of social media and the provision of high quality facilities and events were among the factors identified by speakers at the second HealthX forum as key to promoting health and fitness in the community.
HealthX II was held at the Yas Events Centre, Yas Marina Circuit, on the eve of Friday’s annual TriYAS by Daman’s ActiveLife race, which saw an unprecedented 1,500 triathletes, including a record number of Emiratis and over 150 children, swim, run and cycle around the iconic circuit.
Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “Hosting an event like HealthX ahead of TriYAS 2015 makes perfect sense for us, because we are always keen to encourage the local community to lead a more active, healthy lifestyle through our year-round fitness initiatives.
“HealthX II was the perfect curtain-raiser for our biggest and best attended TriYAS race to date.”
Six high-profile speakers including professional triathlete Olivier Godart, top fitness instructor Omar Al-Duri and social influencer Jess Olie addressed the HealthX II audience which included TriYAS participants and members of the UAE’s health and fitness community.
Jess Olie, a 21-year-old yoga instructor with more than 58,000 fans on Instagram, said: “Social media creates a platform where individuals can inspire one another to get more active, to try new ways of exercising that they may never have heard of before.”
For two-time TriYAS winner and reigning champion Olivier Godart, good community sports facilities and events are the key to getting people active.
“Event organisers such as Yas Marina Circuit and others here in the UAE provide all of us with a place to race and perform,” he said. “Pro competitions like TriYAS and others help inspire people to dream. We have to keep inspiring the next generation.”
HealthX II, which was themed around “personal performance”, followed the success of the first HealthX forum held in November ahead of WALK 2014. The event is aimed at facilitating better conversations and sharing of ideas amongst practitioners keen to make a difference in community health. All content from the forum was filmed and is available on the HealthX YouTube channel.
More than 100 UAE Nationals, including 60 women, competed in yesterday’s TriYAS by Daman’s ActiveLife, a record turnout of Emiratis for the popular community triathlon.
Michael Bitzer, CEO of National Health Insurance Company – Daman, said: “We’re very proud to be sponsoring TriYAS, which in a few short years has become one of the most important community fitness events in the UAE.
“The race has gone from strength to strength, and this year it’s been particularly exciting to see so many Emiratis signing up to take part. Everyone who took part or turned up to support those competing has had a great day despite the challenging weather conditions”.
This year’s event featured several brand new additions including a KidsTRI open to children aged between 12-16, a female-only category, and the participation of an elite wave of 9 triathletes from around the world.
Ruedi Wild, from Switzerland who claimed first place in the elite wave of pro-triathletes said: “It feels fantastic to have won today and racing on the F1 course is really special. You see it on TV so to be here competing is something very unique for me. The conditions were tough today with the heat and lots of wind and sand, it’s not what I’m used to training in Europe so I’m very pleased with a first place finish”.
Participation was boosted this year by strong social media engagement, including the #TriYAS hashtag encouraging people to share their own personal stories of their training experiences on digital platforms.
As part of Yas Marina Circuit’s ongoing ‘Big Data’ health, all entrants to TriYAS had their BMI index and other data measured on site. The information collected will form part of a knowledge base for use in future health planning strategies in Abu Dhabi.
Friends and family were also out in force yesterday to lend their support and enjoy entertainment including live music, kids activation zones, climbing walls and other sporting attractions.