We road test fitness circuits at beachside gym The Shack
There is no course as such yet; instead you pay a Dhs35 drop-in fee to use the equipment and attend a class. The latter are very flexible while the new gym gains a bigger following, currently ranging from circuits to Pilates, yoga, kayaking and even Capoeira.
To offer you a very reasonably-priced place to get fit – right on the beach. Bonus!
Step by step
It’s January 3. I haven’t exercised properly over Christmas (Cough: for a few months). Even worse, it’s 6.45am in the morning and I’m 15 minutes late. ‘Dread’ is the word that springs to mind. I find The Shack, which lives up to its name from the outside: a one-storey building with a name sign hanging askew on its side. Bruce King, the venue’s owner, greets me with a smile, and asks myself and the woman who has arrived at the same time as me if we fancy ‘doing a bit of circuits’. Immediately his laid-back nature puts me at ease. We tell him how fit we’re feeling (5/10 for me, and that’s generous) and how long we can spend working out, and he then quickly plans a routine for us. This starts with three minutes on the exercise bike to warm up while he attends to the two men already working away on the rowing machines. Next up, we complete one minute of skipping on the bouncy material in front of the open gym. This really isn’t so bad: I’m outside on the beach facing the sea, the sun has risen in the time it took me to walk from car to Shack, and the only people around are a couple of joggers and some speedy early-morning kayakers. Naturally, however, as with most circuit sessions, it becomes more difficult as we continue. Next we complete a minute of ‘up-kicks’ (kicking our heels to touch our derrieres), followed by a series of jumps back and forth over a step-up box. We then repeat the whole thing two more times. I’m struggling, but fortunately Bruce is no bootcamp squadron (some of you may know him from Goal Attained – a fitness company that promotes ‘real goals for real people’). He allows me a longer break than my workout partner (who wants to start cycling from JBR to The Shack. Goodness!), and asks me several times if I’m alright before I continue, all the while dealing with any new walk-ins and overseeing their sessions. Our second circuit focuses on the upper body and includes press ups (proper ones – according to Bruce having your knees on the floor forces you into an unnatural position), followed by pulling myself up and down using a rope attached to a gym bar, then lifting my arms up to a right-angle and then down, 50 times. My partner continues with the lower body circuit, but by this point it’s 7.35am and I have to scarper, but only after a thorough warm-down led by Bruce.
As I’m not used to exercising in the morning (I’m all for running after work), I feel a bit like a zombie for the rest of the day, and the next morning I ache a little. But that’s not really the point. The main thing is I am secretly over the moon that I managed to clamber out of bed at that hour, and break the fitness dry spell. During the class Bruce notices one of my arms is a lot stronger than the other, and suggests that this, along with stress, may be the cause of my recent neck pain. Later he sends me the number of his chiropractor and tells me not to be too hard on myself about how difficult I found the session – reminding me that a workout after Christmas will always be tough.
• The beachside location is simply fantastic. • You don’t need a membership, and it’s very cheap. • The classes are flexible, time- and content-wise. • Bruce is a personable trainer, and has more trainers joining him to specialise in different fields as well as deal with The Shack’s popularity.
• It may be a little far if you live in areas such as Mirdif or Deira. • It’s not open between 11am and 4pm on weekdays.
Fitness Beat Try a high-energy ‘Fit Camp’ circuit at this gym. Trial pack Dhs100 for four classes. Thu 6.30pm-7.30pm, Fri 10am-11am. TECOM (055 220 1099).
Fitness Planet Try a session with instructor Hawa at a gym home to serious muscle and sport enthusiasts. Dhs30. Wed from 5pm. Deira (04 269 9773).
5/5 Dhs35 drop-in fee. Open Sun-Thu 5am-11am, 4pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 8am-6pm. The Shack, Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim (056 693 9258)