Opening a gym can be a hugely tricky business, with more obstacles to contend with than the Desert Warrior Challenge. But if you have a unique idea backed by years of industry experience, the process becomes a lot smoother.
When Define body & mind held its grand opening at the start of June, there was no telling how fitness fans would take to it. Priding itself on being wholly original, the studio in Dubai Marina promised to be anything but run of the treadmill.
Some two months down the line, that promise seems to have caught the imagination of Dubaians, much to general manager Laura Olivier’s obvious delight. “People have taken an interest in our method and how different it is,” she tells Time Out. “We’ve had a lot of people say, ‘Wow, I’ve never worked my glutes like that. I’ve never danced on a bike like that or had such choreography’.”
So what makes Define so distinctive? Olivier believes one of the studio’s main USPs is the fact that the three classes it offers (there are more in the pipeline) are novel takes on workout staples.
The “revolution” classes are more rhythmic than the usual spinning sessions, with sections focusing purely on your abs and others incorporating weights. The “body” class, meanwhile, is divided into four sections – upper body, thighs, glutes and abs and core – and the “mind” class uses aerial hammocks and “Define mind balls” that help get into the muscles more deeply than standard foam rollers.
Define was founded in Texas by Henry Richardson, who has had a major input in this offering, the first franchise outside the US. And Olivier has taken Richardson’s mindfulness ethos and run with it, instilling it into each of her instructors from the off.
“In our classes we try and encourage our clients to connect their minds with what their bodies are doing,” she says. “All of our instructors are trained to be mindful of what the clients are doing and help them to be constantly aware of their limits and not just ploughing through the exercises haphazardly.”
This awareness of their members’ health and well-being is what has helped Define drum up interest, with Olivier elated to see her precise recruitment process bearing fruit through positive feedback.
Define is also set to open ladies-only classes following requests. “Bring a boy to barre” is another idea Olivier hopes to realise.
And as a “big dreamer”, the Californian hopes to open another studio in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi. For now, though, you can head to Dubai Marina and sample Define’s distinctive experience for yourself. From Dhs110 per class (first session free).DEFINE body & mind