Fitness for kids in Doha

FunkiFitness could change the shape of junior fitness in Doha Comments

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With the belief that good health comes from exercise, social relationships and nutrition, new group FunkiFitness aims to reach out to the community and change the face of fitness in Qatar. Lisa Travell meets the founders.

‘Less junk, more funk’, is the catchy motto of the newly formed fitness group FunkiFitness. Founders, Zara Brook and Richard Boustead, have launched FunkiFitness with the aim of positively influencing the health and well being of residents in Qatar. According to the 2011-2016 National Health Strategy, over seventy-five percent of Qataris are overweight or obese, so there’s a definite need for a driving force that will help us all dump the junk and find our funk.

Zara is a personal trainer, an expert in nutrition and also teaches zumba, boxercise and circuit training, so she knows how to motivate the masses. Richard teaches physical education in Qatar and according to Zara is ‘the brains behind the operation’. Teamed with James Hardy, a multi skills coach who has worked with kids for over ten years, they have also launched FunkidFitness as part of the programme. Aimed at six to nine year olds, it will focus on learning and developing fundamental movement skills such as running, catching, throwing, rotating, squats and lunges.

Zara explains why they launched a programme specifically for kids. ‘I love working with kids and seeing them exercise and get fit, and the number of kids that are unfit in Qatar worries me,’ she says. ‘It’s a lot to do with the lifestyle here, as they don’t walk anywhere, and fast food also plays a part,’ she adds.

Richard has a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport and Health and has studied the benefits of fundamental movement skills. ‘Kids need to be taught these movement skills before they can get into sport, because if they don’t know how to jump, run, push, pull, throw and catch then they won’t be able to participate later in life,’ he says. ‘FunkidFitness teaches them basic skills so that when they get older they can play sports with confidence’, he explains. He’s also keen to emphasise the benefits of exercising from an early age. ‘Being overweight really does affect people’s life expectancy, children that develop type two diabetes by the age of ten can lose up to 22 years of their life.’

The benefits of FunkidFitness are not just physical, Zara explains, ‘Nowadays kids spend too much time on their iPads and computers and they don’t end up forming relationships with peers. At FunkidFitness they will engage with others and learn life skills, like how to communicate, form relationships, and work as part of a team.’

It’s evident that Qatar is getting serious about sport and fitness, so the launch of FunkiFitness, which also incorporates adult programmes, is timely. ‘We’ve been in talks with the Olympic Committee and they have been really supportive,’ says Zara. ‘FunkiFitness is working towards the 2011 to 2016 National Health Strategy and the 2030 National Vision. Our programme will also feature nutrition, but for kids it will be taught through games. Kids will be in teams and have foods that they will have to put the sugar cubes next to in order to guess how much sugar each food contains,’ she explains.

Programmes are already running at Qatar Academy and are set to start at Qatar Canadian School. Both Zara and Richard are eager to add more venues, and sponsors, in order to get the wider community involved. ‘We really want to do this on a community level so finding venues has been the biggest battle we’ve had to date,’ says Zara.

There’s a passion for fitness, coupled with endless enthusiasm from both Zara and Richard, and it’s also evident that a lot of research has gone into the programmes they are offering. They genuinely hope to influence as many lives as possible in Qatar, as Zara concludes, ‘We really want to make a difference, there is a lot on offer for adults here but not so much for children, and all nationalities are welcome. We know that people’s lifestyles aren’t going to change overnight, but even if we can reach out to just two percent, engage them in exercise and help them make more healthy choices with their food, then we’ll be happy.’ I have a feeling that FunkiFitness is no fad, but the future of fitness in Qatar.
Visit, like them on Facebook or email for details of classes and prices.

FunkidFitness in a nutshell

The FunkidFitness programme has eight different levels. Children start as a White Wolf and progress through Yellow Scorpion, Orange Lizard, Green Viper, Blue Shark, Purple Dragon, Brown Vulture and finally Black Panther. Each programme is ten weeks and children move levels once they have mastered the fundamental movement skills on each level. Once they have completed the level they obtain a coloured wristband – akin to a karate belt – which keeps them motivated to move to the next level. Intermixed with the skills are fun activities such as zumba, football, hip hop dancing and boxercise, with children selecting which activity they want to join, plus classes also teach nutritional advice in fun and interactive ways.

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

User reviews:

Posted by: Diana on 15 Nov ' 14 at 10:33

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I'm interested for my son age 8 years old. He likes to fitness. I need more information please. Can you sent me one phone?

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