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Manal Rostom: Just get up and go

Personal Trainer and Nike Coach Manal Rostom, 39, knows all about overcoming hardships and coming out on top.

Recognised as the global face of Nike’s first sports garment for hijabi – or veiled – women, Manal owes her success to her online community.

She founded the Surviving Hijab Facebook group in August 2014 to share her experiences with the world. In it, she found a massive network of supporters and like-minded people, which has helped grow it to 670,000 members.

The huge success of the group encouraged Manal to reach out to Nike later that year, to question why they weren’t featuring hijabi women in their campaigns. Soon after, she became Nike’s first hijabi model, trainer and Run Club coach.

A fitness pioneer

And she’s been breaking barriers ever since: she’s the first Egyptian to run the Great Wall Marathon in China, to climb two of the seven summits, the first Egyptian female to summit Mont Blanc as well as the global face of The Nike Pro Hijab.

Manal, who moved to Dubai seven years ago, decided to go into fitness full-time after losing her pharmaceutical’s job two years ago. Having suffered from a body and eating disorder herself, Manal knows the importance of motivating people to be healthy.

“I grew up with a body image disorder, even though I have always been the same body shape and more or less the same weight,” she says. “I didn’t understand that runners’ legs need to be muscular to enable you to do what you have to do. I used to visit endless dieticians, only to end up bingeing more. I’ve learnt to accept my body the way it is, and try my best to maintain a healthy weight that enables me to do what I like to do in terms of sports.”

Happiest place on earth

And Manal is hoping that with the Dubai Fitness Challenge she can help others find their healthy self too.

“The Dubai Fitness Challenge is a genius idea, I wish it could be all-year round,” says Manal. “So many people have embraced the challenge and changed their lifestyle.

“Subsidised gym memberships and offers on group exercise classes have boosted people’s interest in becoming more active,” she continues. “DFC is a brilliant initiative and another reason for Dubai to be nominated the happiest place on earth.

“It’s a huge honour to be part of it and gives me reason to strive to do even better in the future.”

Manal answers our quick-fire questions:

Cardio or weights? CARDIO 100%
Big breakfast or big dinner? Breakfast
Long run or quick sprints? Loooooooooong run
Favourite food? Sushi and frozen yoghurt
Favourite exercise or sport? Running and indoor cycling
Favourite part of Dubai? Dubai Marina
Tell us one things we might not know about you: I had my own band and used to sing back in uni
What are you most grateful for? Health and family
One thing you couldn’t live without: Running
One line to motivate people: No matter what anyone will tell you, you have to listen and continue to listen to your inner voice, find your calling and Just Do It.

Why should people be part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge? Because it’s a chance to change your life forever.

Follow Manal on Instagram @manirostom

Find out how you can be part of the Dubai Fitness Challenge by downloading the app now.