As a para athlete, Zainab Al-Eqabi has regularly cut a striking figure on the local fitness scene. A UAE resident for the last 20 years, the Iraqi expat lost her leg to a bomb blast in her home country at the age of seven and has used a prosthetic leg to get around ever since.
Despite “always looking” for ways to push herself outside her comfort zone, the digital content creator says she wasn’t expecting to do what she did over the weekend – pull a Jeep Wrangler weighing 4,800 pounds.
The ‘Jeep Challenge’ was a free community event hosted by Fitness Hubs at The Sustainable City in Dubai as part of the ongoing Dubai Fitness Challenge.
“I was attending the event on Friday, watching people drag the Jeep from one point to the other – but I wasn’t considering participating myself at all,” said Zainab. “As I watched them though, I began thinking: why not?” Before she knew it, Zainab found herself slipping on the light green belt attached to the vehicle’s front bumper – and slowly, but steadily, towing it for about 50 metres to the cheers and applause of children and adults alike.
“I really love being out of my comfort zone,” she told WKND, clearly still exhilarated in the aftermath of the feat. “It makes you so happy when you do so and realise that you have the power and energy to reach your goals and dreams.” The vocal fitness advocate added it would’ve been fine even if she didn’t succeed that day. “It’s all about challenging yourself and figuring out who you are.”
Zainab took to social media to talk about the feat and received an overwhelming response. “[This is] the beauty of attending fitness events and activities,” she wrote. “It motivates you to break barriers… to be inspired… I had an incredible time!” The post garnered nearly 52,000 likes in less than a day.
In the video, Zainab can be seen accepting a hand from one of the coaches as she strains against the leash partway through. “I shared that bit on purpose, because it’s important for people to know that, sometimes, you need team work to achieve things too,” she said.
Zainab wasn’t always into fitness. On the contrary, she used to steer clear of any kind of sport. “It was in university that I was forced to include sports in my life, as my doctor warned me that I might run into serious medical issues if I didn’t work on strengthening my back due to my prosthetic leg.”
The influencer was then introduced to gymming, weight training, swimming and cycling. “I was not aware there was so much you could do with a prosthetic leg,” she reflects today. “I think we set these ideas in our minds because of society and what it thinks you can do. But I
Athletes are some of the easiest people to shop for. We can never have too many socks, and we also need lots of stuff — stuff to track our workouts, stuff to keep us entertained and stuff to help our bodies recover. In my spare time I’m a distance runner and coach, with drawers full of gear I’ve road-tested.
Now, for my day job at Engadget, I’ve put together a list of sporty gift ideas that includes a few things I own, and a few items I want. And don’t worry, though I have a clear bias toward running, these should work just as well for other kinds of athletes, from cyclists to yoga enthusiasts. One word of caution: I’d advise against buying someone sneakers. It’s better to give them a gift certificate to a speciality sportswear shop and let a professional evaluate their gait and arch type.
Athleta Made to Move mask
A very 2020 gift for athletes: a mask for outdoor workouts. I love Athleta’s Made to Move mask for women, whose nose bridge and adjustable ear hooks make it the most comfortable option I’ve tried. It’s sold as a $25 three-pack in two color themes: warm reds and purples, and cool blues and blacks. For a unisex alternative, this Under Armour mask looks promising (just get the sizing right). I also like the look of this adjustable mask. You only have two sizes to choose from here; less of a chance you’ll get it wrong.
Buy Made to Move masks (3-pack) at Athleta – $25
Apple Watch Series 6
For people who are only ever going to own one watch, the Apple Watch is consistently the best all-purpose option. It’s a stylish timepiece with deep iOS integration, an irresistibly fun step tracker and a workout app that supports 15 activity types. As a fitness watch, it’s less robust than purpose-built devices like Garmin’s Forerunner line, but it’s good enough for most people. Plus, built-in GPS and on-board music storage make it possible to leave your phone at home while you exercise.
Like last year’s Series 5, the new Series 6 has a built-in ECG test to detect irregular heart rates, and this version also adds an always-on altimeter (great for hikers) and a blood oxygen sensor that runs in the background, even while you sleep. It’s also just generally faster (and faster-charging) than the last-gen model, with slightly longer battery life to boot.
The only caveat, of course: Your giftee needs an iPhone user for them to use an Apple Watch. If your loved one is an Android person, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.
Buy Apple Watch Series 6 at Amazon – $385 Buy Apple Watch Series 6 at Walmart – $385
Garmin Forerunner 245
Whenever anyone asks me what GPS sports watch they should buy, my default recommendation is always
For people with disabilities, Ability360’s fitness center is not just a gym. It’s a gift, a lifeline, a privilege, a necessity.
The 45,000-square-foot fitness center, part of a 62,000-square-foot campus tucked in a business area east of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and along the light rail route, is the first of its kind in the western United States and one of only a few in the nation.
Its equipment is designed with accessibility in mind. For example, the lap pool has a lowered bench for transferring directly from a wheelchair to the water. The fitness room features strength, cardio and free weight equipment like any gym, but they’re designed to accommodate people with disabilities.
The campus is also home to a slew of nonprofits that help people with various disabilities and is typically bustling with activity. Ability360’s fitness center started the year with 2,800 members.
For those with recent injuries, the gym is a place to see and meet others who have coped with and grown stronger from their injuries, a place for encouragement.
For others, it’s the only place they ever get to use accessible equipment. It might be the only reason they leave the house.
For a select few, like those who had been training to play in the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, it’s one of the best and most adaptive training facilities in the state.
“This is a place like nowhere else,” said Ability360 vice president and general manager Gus LaZear. “It’s warm, it’s welcoming, people are friendly but also keep you accountable for working out.”
Like many gyms, Ability360 shut down March 17. But when other gyms raced to reopen, Ability360 leaders were more cautious. They serve a more vulnerable population.
The Arizona Republic followed three Ability360 members over several months, documenting as they coped with the rollercoaster of closures and re-openings at the facility they described as being like a second home, a place where their disability didn’t define them.
When Ability360, a Phoenix gym for people with disabilities closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they adapted.
For a Paralympic athlete, Ability360 is essential
Joe Jackson, 30, has been paralyzed from the waist down since being injured during a Hamilton High School football game in 2005.
Breaking his C6 vertebrae in his lower neck left him without the ability to sweat, meaning he can quickly overheat — a common result of spinal cord injuries.
He didn’t used to have to think about it because of the air conditioned rooms at Ability360. He’d been going there three to five days a week for sessions spanning several hours since the gym’s opening in 2011.
Ability360’s focus on accessibility has been a “game-changer” for Jackson, he said.
Jackson in 2007 started playing quad rugby and joined Ability360’s team, which practiced three times per week for three hours at a time at the facility on top of regular games and tournaments.
In 2017, Jackson became a member of the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair rugby team,