The Saudi Sports for All Federation announced the appointment of fitness and dance instructor Nelly Attar as a recent addition to its official Ambassador program
No stranger to an active lifestyle, Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) Ambassador Nelly Attar grew up dancing in her room and swimming in her compound pool before joining a dance group at university that she attended regularly if she wasn’t walking everywhere, going on weekly hikes or training at the gym.
While studying for her master’s in Psychology in the UK, Nelly really upped her interest in being physically active to manage her anxiety and she enjoyed it so much that she became certified in dance fitness in 2011 after finishing her degree. Even upon returning to Saudi in 2013 to work as a psychologist in Humanitarian City (Riyadh), she kept up her interest and started offering classes to women after work. As a mental health professional, she espouses the benefits of regular activity. Having completed a variety of courses including, personal training, CrossFit Level 1 and 2, CrossFit Gymnastics, CrossFit Endurance, Animal Flow, Spinning and Holistic Health Coaching, Nelly is a multifaceted athlete.
Interest and demand for her classes snowballed, compelling her to qualify in other areas of sports and fitness. “I spent at least two years earning new qualifications and absorbing so much material from the fitness world as possible. In 2017, I decided to launch an initiative of my own – a space for free bootcamps and dance. After a few months of operating, it morphed into a business – Saudi Arabia’s first dance studio, MOVE. That is when I decided to focus entirely on sports and physical activity. Since then my life has all been about movement with others!”
Although qualified to instruct several disciplines, and MOVE started offering fitness and dance classes, dance holds a special place for Nelly. “Dance is what resonated strongly with people here, especially at a time when sports for women was still not heavily supported. I have seen nothing as powerful and inclusive as dance. Anyone at any age, physical ability, background, and gender can dance, so I strongly advocate for dance while embarking in other areas of sports.”
She shifted her focus purely to dance after she saw the tangible impact it created for the community – jobs were being created for dance instructors, many students came to manage stress and connect with others through during the classes, and children came running from school to dance on a daily basis. MOVE now boasts the widest offering of dance classes across the GCC as well as monthly dance events, seasonal adventure trips, and occasional health talks.
Nelly attributes movement to changing her life and her passion for fitness stems from the thrill she gets from being fast, strong, agile, and having good coordination – qualities she says the human body can truly develop through a variety of disciplines and changing up training regularly. On 23 May 2019 she put that theory through its paces, testing her mettle as she – along with three other Arab women – reached the summit of Mount Everest.
Not one to let the pandemic slow her down, Nelly has taken her classes online, offering Instagram live sessions weekly as well as a 30-day fitness program via Zoom, which has proven to be immensely popular with booked slots filling up almost immediately.
Looking ahead, Nelly would like to work closely with the public sector by launching large-scale initiatives and projects, wellness programs, more dance and fitness concepts/studios, and a sports consultancy.