UAE residents feeling the benefits of BeWell Cycle Tour

Having suffered from medical issues for a number of years, Bhavana Dalal knew she had to do something to improve her health. And as she approached the end of a nine-month sabbatical from her position in recruitment, she wanted to find an outlet before she returned to her desk job.

“It became imperative to take up something which will help me to stay fit,” says the 45-year-old from India.

So she decided to take up cycling – and then signed herself up for a 20-kilometre ride in the BeWell Cycle Tour to give herself something to work towards.

“I went through the medical screening and everything just fell in place. I have always enjoyed cycling [and] I have lost a little bit of weight which is quite motivating,” she says.

“Since I’m a beginner I’m only aiming at 20km, but I’m hoping that if there are more events like this in the future I should be able to get up to 50km or 60km.”

The BeWell Cycle Tour, which takes place on February 12, consists of four routes – a 20km ride within Dubai, a 61km Ajman to Dubai route, one 142km starting at Ras Al Khaimah and ending in Dubai, and a 146km Abu Dhabi to Dubai ride.

Organised by Wyndham Hotel Group, which has brands including Ramada, the event is part of a growing trend for corporate-sponsored well-being sports events which also includes The Bloomberg Square Mile Relay race next Wednesday in Dubai.

The BeWell cycle ride started out as an initiative designed for employees of Wyndham Hotel Group to encourage them to become healthier. But it soon grew into something much bigger, involving its customers, partners, eventually the public. Sponsors include Al Nabooda Auto, Fitness First Middle East and Mediclinic Middle East.

“We said do you know what? We’re going to extend it to our customers because well-being and a healthy lifestyle is something that should be promoted,” says Michael Zager, regional vice president for the Middle East and Africa at Wyndham. “And since everybody has fun, let’s do it. So we did a little bit of investigation of what’s going on in Dubai. And when you look at the figures you see that obesity is a real problem.

“We said it might be a drop in the ocean but let’s start something and let’s promote this. Everybody can do it, every company can do it. And since we have 250km of cycling path out there it’s ideal.”

q&a pumped up for a ride

Michael Zager, Wyndham Hotel Group’s regional vice president for the Middle East and Africa, tells Gillian Duncan more about the BeWell Cycle Tour:

How did it come about?

One of our corporate social responsibility pillars is well-being and a healthy lifestyle. It started when we got together with our team to see what we can do. On a Thursday you do the dress-down day and we have healthy food. Then someone said let’s do something sporty. Let’s clean the beach or go jogging or something. We got in touch with Revolution Cycles and a personal trainer.

And then?

Because we had no proper bikes we rented them. Nobody had proper gear. Everyone had normal shorts and trainers and we did 15km and we said ‘Oh wow. Do you know what? We will do this again next Thursday’. We got better and got proper gear.

Did it involve the whole company?

Yes. We started with 10 and now we’re around 15.

Has cycling improved your well-being at work?

I am 180cm and my weight is 80kg, but I felt unfit before. I felt stressed because we all work hard and this is such a stress reliever. My blood pressure went down. Sometimes I cycled with a colleague and we’d discuss some work items, Bahrain visits and hotels in Jeddah and all of a sudden it’s a completely different situation from sitting in the office and pulling out your hair. You have fresh air. You shower and you feel reborn.

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