21 Day Wellness Challenge Kicks Off

It takes three weeks to make — or break — a habit. At least, that is the philosophy behind NYU Abu Dhabi’s 21-Day Wellness Challenge that kicked off ...

Apr 18, 2015

It takes three weeks to make — or break — a habit. At least, that is the philosophy behind NYU Abu Dhabi’s 21-Day Wellness Challenge that kicked off last Sunday, April 12, at an early morning gathering outside of the Highline Amphitheatre. For the next two weeks, participants will continue their second shot at left-aside New Year’s resolutions, hitting the gym, eating cleaner and striving for an improvement in general wellness.
The challenge — the first of its kind at NYUAD — promotes self-awareness and intentional choices as a way to lead a healthier, more balanced life. Participants tally up points at the end of each week, accumulated for activities that range from a quick stretch after every hour of sitting to flossing everyday to calling a friend from home. Prizes will be awarded to those with the most points at the end of the challenge.
“The idea behind the Wellness Challenge came about after attending a session at a conference last year, where a collegiate athletic professional presented on a wellness program in place at her university,” Florencia Caro, the assistant director of Athletics and initiator of the event, wrote to The Gazelle. “I was inspired by this idea and thought it was worth exploring at NYUAD.”
The challenge takes a holistic approach to wellness, focusing on seven main categories: emotional, intellectual, physical, social, environmental, occupational and spiritual. Daily Wellness Sessions, worth ten points for attendance, cover topics such as tea-tasting, stress management and the use of technology for fitness-tracking.
“It’s about improving everything,” said fitness instructor Ayesha Alsuwaidi, who is involved in the fitness side of the challenge. “Even small things like picking up garbage, saying a kind word to someone, being thankful — it may seem like small things, but it makes a big difference in overall wellness.”
More than 200 participants signed up for the challenge, which was open to all members of the NYUAD community. Senior Farah Mohmad said she is surprised by how many people are involved in the event but understands the appeal of community-wide support.
“When I heard about the challenge, I thought, ‘Great, more people can be a part of these life-changing [goals],'” said Mohmad. “It would be so much harder if I had to do this on my own.”
As an RA, Mohmad has incorporated the challenge into a floor event for her residents on the third floor of A5C as part of this month’s Residential Education theme of forward-thinking.
Some students are more hesitant about the challenge, however, and prefer to make improvements in a less structured way. Junior Nushkia Chamba originally signed up for the challenge but changed her mind the night before the event began.
“I made a spontaneous decision to take my name off because I wanted to see if I could challenge myself without actually doing the [Wellness] Challenge,” said Chamba.  “I’m a strong believer in doing something sincerely, rather than just doing something to get points or to have half-price at the juice bar.”
However, Chamba said she appreciates the message of the Wellness Challenge and the conversations that it has started in the community. Despite not wanting to officially participate, she mentioned that she has incorporated some of the suggestions and activities into her life.
“They really did a good job promoting it,” said Chamba. “Sometimes when you are loaded with work, you don’t realize that you also need to gym up and stay healthy — eat well and sleep well. Without you even realizing it, you don’t do those things. Priorities get a bit blurry over the course of the semester.”
Mohmad, on the other hand, is very supportive of the Challenge and the support that it brings.
“This is the first year, but I really hope it continues because it not only makes you more aware of yourself, but it brings the community together in one event — when you know that you’re doing it with other people, you are more encouraged,” she said.
Although signups for the Wellness Challenge have ended, the Wellness Sessions and activities remain open to the community. A schedule of upcoming events is posted on the Student Portal.
Clare Hennig is features editor. Email her at
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