From paddleboarding, to spinning and yoga, here’s how to get into shape in Dubai
1. Booty barre at Motion Ladies’ Fitness Centre Pilates, dance, yoga and cardio. Can you handle this? If so, take your bootylicious self to Motion Ladies’ Fitness Centre in Umm Suqeim to try the Booty barre class, where you will shake that jelly (in the words of Beyonce and the gang) in a full body workout class. The hour-long classes are aimed at building lean muscle, increasing metabolism, strengthening your core and toning up, all to great tunes, with the help of a barre and a ball.
The barre will appeal to your inner prima ballerina, and your aches and pains the next day will be proof that it really is harder than it looks. Your first trial class is free. Motion Ladies Fitness Center. Dhs116. Daily 7am-9pm. Villa 122, Street 25, Al Sqool Street, Umm Suqeim 3, www.motionfitnesscenter.com (04 328 2538).
2. Spinning at Cyclebar Clip in, folks, it’s time to try Cyclebar. With 55 bikes in a tiered studio, two huge flatscreen TVs displaying data and state-of-the-art audio and lighting, this is like spinning, but darker, sweatier and a lot harder. And more fun. There are a range of riffs on the sessions, with riders hopping on their bikes for a mix of hills and drills to boost strength and endurance, while the Connect class is all about the music, and the Performance option plugs you into tech, with CycleStats, group challenges and individual competitions to push you to a personal best. In each ride you’ll be able to track your progress, with heart rate, calories, power, RPM and more logged and emailed to you after every class. Whether you’re competing against yourself or your fellow cyclists, Cyclebar will have you fighting for top spot. Dhs96. Sun-Thurs 6am to 10pm, Fri & Sat 8am to 10pm. The Avenue, City Walk 1, Al Safa Street, Jumeirah 1, www.citywalk.cyclebar.ae (04 395 5523).
3. HIIT on floats with Float UAE If you’re looking for a workout that sets you apart from all the other gym bunnies (and don’t mind working out in swimwear or getting your leggings soggy if/when you fall in) then look no further than a HIIT class at a floating studio. You’ll use a mat that sits on the surface of the swimming pool, then be put through a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout, with dynamic moves and strengthening poses. You might even attempt a burpee on the water. Great for your core thanks to the need to stabilise your body, not to mention balance and concentration, just 40 minutes on a floating mat is surprisingly tiring. Dhs50. Various times. The Westin, Habtoor City, www.floatuae.com.
4. Aquabiking at L’Atelier Biking. In. Water. It’s a thing. Promise. In an indoor swimming pool at L’Atelier Fitness there are ten bikes, where women can work out without fear of damaging joints, thanks to your weightlessness in the water. The classes are also suitable if you’re pregnant or post-natal.
But don’t think that this is an easy class – you’ll be cycling, working arms and legs with bands, targeting your abs and getting a full body workout.
The water is chest height, and knowing how to swim isn’t essential. Most attendees wear leggings and a tank or tee, and there are changing rooms (complete with hairdryers) with a tea and juice bar for relaxing in afterwards. The studio also offers other water-based activities, including tabata and a HIIT class. Dhs155 (Dhs125 for your first class). Daily 8am-8pm. Villa 677 A, Al Wasl Road, near Spinneys Centre, www.latelieraquafitness.com (04 338 8323).
5. Barry’s Bootcamp Made famous by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Jessica Biel working out at the LA outpost of this killer class, Barry’s Bootcamp is no walk in the park. Instead, it’s a circuit of high intensity exercises, where you switch between guided running on the treadmill and resistance training with bands and kettlebells, with each exercise designed to give your body a short, very sharp shock. Your first time might be a bit overwhelming, as the instructor stalks between the ‘treads’, but once you get the lingo you’ll be hooked. Each session is different, but with a few things in common; they’re very loud, and you might be unable to walk the next morning.
It’s estimated that you’ll burn around 1,000 calories per session, so it’s no wonder that this DIFC gym is popular with time-poor fitness fans, who hit up the 50-minute class for the social scene and smoothies as much as the sweat-fest. Dhs120, Fri 8am-12pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun-Thurs 6.30am to 8pm, Central Park Towers, DIFC, www.barrysbootcamp.com (04 254 4775).
6. Beach Circuits with Warehouse Gym Dubai’s answer to Muscle Beach might seem to be all about posing, but these guys pump some serious iron too. Down at the JBR branch of Warehouse Gym you’ll find an impressive set up, and there are daily beach circuits, plus regular events where you can join mega community classes, doing the rounds of TRX, rowing machines, beach sprints, free weights and box jumps before kicking back at the new Common Grounds for a poke bowl or protein shake. Membership costs from Dhs400 per month, and scores you access to other classes including spinning and CrossFit. And remember, shirts are optional (for the men). Dhs400 for a monthly membership. Daily 6am-11pm. The Beach, opposite JBR, www.whgym.com (04 3684060).
7. PRAMA at Fairmont The Palm Prepare to feel like you’re in Tron. Or a game show. But not a gym. PRAMA is a totally new kind of workout, where you improve your fitness, muscle memory, speed and balance by tapping pressure sensitive walls and floors as they light up, allowing the instructor to programme sessions according to ability and activity levels. All the data is stored, so you can compare scores, compete against others and undergo tests. With fast feet and quick reactions you can burn 1,000 calories in 45 minutes, and it’s a good laugh too, with classes carried out daily in a group or one-to-one, and the team at the Fairmont promising that though PRAMA is full on, it happens so quickly that you won’t have time to feel the physical strain until the end of session. Dhs75. Various times. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.fairmont.com (04 457 3330).
8. Boxing at Round 10 Boxing A knock-out combo of cardio and strength, boxing isn’t just for men partial to facial tattoos and fights outside nightclubs (though it doesn’t hurt to know that you could be a bit handy in a tight spot…), with most of the big name supermodels posting pics of them gloved up online. Why? Because it burns fat, gives you a full body workout and is a quick way to boost your balance and agility, as well as offering your abs a fighting chance of appearing, thanks to lots of core work. Plus, punching a bag is pretty good for those stress levels.
Round 10 is a specialized boxing gym, which means you’ll find plenty of pro trainers, punching bags and plenty of classes, from kids and beginners to Power Boxing and advanced sessions. See you in the ring. Fri 8am to 12pm, Sat-Thurs 7am-9pm. Warehouse 42, Al Quoz 1, Behind Times Square Mall, www.round10boxing.com (04 338 0101).
9. Bounce Fit at Bounce Bouncing around a giant trampoline can’t do you any actual good, could it? Oh yes. It’s claimed that 10 minutes of jumping is equivalent to half an hour of running, without the worries that high impact exercise brings (namely damaging joints or exacerbating injuries). The biggest attraction, however, of Bounce Fit sessions, is that they make you feel about 6 years old, full of joy, loving the music, and throwing yourself around trampolines the size of a football pitch (almost). You don’t even need to be experienced to have a go, as the instructor will explain the basics at the beginning of every hour-long class. Wear your usual workout gear and training shoes, and bring a towel and water. Dhs85. Various times. Building 32, 4B Street, behind Ace Hardware, www.bounce.ae (04 3211 400).
10. MMA at TK MMA The TK in TK MMA is Tam Khan, a man who came to Dubai in 2008 to open the city’s first MMA gym. Since then, the discipline has exploded (along with a few noses, no doubt) and with the recent rise and swagger of Conor McGregor, UFC and MMA aren’t going anywhere. Undeniably more popular with menfolk, mixed martial arts is a full contact sport, where you grabble, strike and pin your way to victory, but training sessions tend to more fitness than fighting focused, so expect lots of cardio, techniques and strength work. If you fancy stepping it up and getting in the cage, however, this Media City gym has trainers on hand to turn you into a lean, mean, fighting machine. MMA classes take place five times a week. Dhs150. Sat-Thurs 6am-12am, Fri 8am-9pm, Shatha Tower 9th Floor Media City, www.tkmmafit.com (04 452 3388).
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES 1. Stand up paddleboarding at Club Mina The usually calm waters of the UAE have seen stand up paddleboarding explode in the last few years (regular paddlers call it SUP), allowing water lovers to explore the shoreline and beyond while toning up. You will have to be a confident swimmer to partake, but all fitness levels are welcome to have a go, and while an initial lesson might be useful to get to grips with the techniques, it’s easy to pick up. Good balance, of course, is a big bonus (unless you enjoy a dunking in the Arabian Gulf), and you’ll find yourself using your core to stabilise your body, as your leg muscles work hard to maintain that centre of gravity, while arms, back and shoulders get a workout from propelling the paddle. The best bit? A bit of vitamin D, spotting fish and bobbing on top of the waves. If it’s good enough for Jennifer Aniston… From Dhs95 for 30 minutes. Daily 9am-5pm. Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road, www.clubminadubai.com (04 399 3333).
2. Golf at Jumeirah Golf Estates Mark Twain reportedly said “Golf is a good walk spoiled”, but the sport’s popularity in Dubai suggests that many people disagree. From absolute beginners to seasoned swingers, there is a course for you, and at Jumeirah Golf Estates you’ll find the Earth Course, arguably one of the best in the world. With rolling fairways, whit bunkers and extensive planting, it is inspired by the famed parkland courses found across the US and Europe, it’s as tricky as it is beautiful, with the last four holes alongside or over water. There’s also the Fire course, which has tested some of the biggest names in golf. Are you up for the challenge? From Dhs475. Daily 7am-9pm. Jumeirah Golf Estates, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, www.jumeirahgolfestates.com (04 818 2000).
3. Footgolf at Montgomerie So you’re a super shooter, and pukka with a putter, but what about footgolf. No, it’s not a typo, it’s a hybrid of two sports that will test both your soccer and golfing skills. Players navigate the nine hole, par 3 course at the Address Montgomerie, where each hole is now effectively split in two, with an option for golfers and another (complete with hole large enough to accommodate a football) for the footgolfers. Do note that sometimes both sports will be playing at the same time, so try to keep the terrace-style chanting to a minimum as you work your way around, kicking balls into the pot. It’s a fun fusion, and there’s a deal on Sunday nights if you want to give it a try for Dhs50. Just don’t wear your football shirt – golf or sportswear is preferred. From Dhs50. Daily 6am to 10pm. The Address Montgomerie Dubai, Emirates Hills, www.themontgomerie.com (04 363 1209).
4. Cycling at Al Qudra It seems everyone is getting on their bike these days, and the (thankfully flat) Al Qudra track is 86 kilometres, with a 50km loop, that will put you to the test. Drive out past Arabian Ranches, and you’ll see it running alongside the road to your left – keep going and there’s a Last Exit food stop for a post-ride bite, plus Trek UAE, where you can rent a bike, helmet and lights. Access to the track itself is free, and you’ll enjoy views of the desert dunes (watch out for oryx), and it’s popular with both novices out for some fresh air, and serious cyclists. Expect to spend up to three hours completing the track, with it most popular on weekend mornings. Note that petrol stations are few and far between out there, so get fuel before heading out.
5. Kitesurfing Some sports are pretty accessible – you buy some gear, and have a go. Kitesurfing is not one of them. First of all, there’s a lot of equipment (bars, boards, harnesses…) so it’s a big financial outlay if you soon discover that you’re a bit rubbish or are afraid of heights, and secondly, it’s a bit dangerous. It’s recommended to do a course of lessons with an accredited school before striking out alone; they’ll provide the bits and pieces, plus expertise to stop you breaking something.
Once you’re on the beach and kitted up, you’ll need some wind. The sport fuses windsurfing, paragliding, wakeboarding and maybe a bit of sailing, so the idea is to catch the wind in a power kite, then travel across the water on a board. You’ll see pros off the beach, high in the air, and behind Sunset Mall is the busiest spot, so head there to check it out. Lessons with Kitesurf School Dubai (www.kitesurf.ae) can be carried out on land or water, and a one-on-one class costs Dhs350.
6. Wakeboarding with Xtreme Wake The guys at Xtreme Wake are passionate about the wake. They dream about the wake. And they want you to get involved. If you want to conquer the waves in a week, try one of the camps in Ghantoot Marina (choose from four or seven nights) where you’ll hit the water twice a day, use the trampoline to perfect your moves, get coaching along the way and enjoy the company of other aspiring wakeboarders. Barbecue meals and drinks are provided, and hotel accommodation is a few minutes away (as is Blue Marlin if you want to party). If you can only spare a day, the team run rides from Dubai Marina, so get in touch to let them know when and for how long you want to go out on the boat; they start from sunrise, so you could even head out before work. Prices start from Dhs600 for an hour’s boat rental, which has capacity for up to seven people, and includes equipment for wakeboarding or wakesurfing and basic coaching. From Dhs600. Various times. Dubai Marina and Ghantoot Marina, www.xtremewakeuae.com (056 342 3012).
7. Horse riding at Mushrif Equestrian Club If you fancy your very own Wild West moment in the Middle East, then a park near Mirdif might be the answer. With acres of land, Mushrif offers a place where you can hire horses for all levels of riders, and head out into what feels like the wilderness, with desert, canyons and woods waiting to be explored. You’ll even see ghaf trees and native wildlife. Not confident on horseback? Mushrif Equestrian Park also offers lessons to children and adults, both one-to-one and in groups, and can teach you show jumping. A desert ride starts from Dhs300 for 90 minutes, with adult lessons from Dhs250 for 50 minutes. From Dhs250. Daily 7am to 7pm. Mushrif Park, near Uptown Mirdif and Khawaneej, www.mushrifequestrianclub.com (04 257 1256).
8. Mountain biking in Hatta Dubai might be famed for sand dunes, water sports and zip lines from skyscrapers, but head to Hatta and the Hajjar Mountains offer a whole new way to get your adrenaline fix, with mountain biking in the great outdoors. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, stop off at Showka Bikes (www.showka.bike) on the way and hire a bike – they open at 6am at weekends, and an hour will set you back Dhs75, or Dhs225 for up to four hours. Once kitted up, head to the hills. The Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre website (www.hattamtb.ae) has loads of suggested routes, colour-coded like ski slopes by ability, with green for beginners, up to black for experienced riders. You can camp at the trail centre itself, and parking is free.
9. Scuba diving with Al Boom Diving Al Boom offers you the chance to view the UAE from a very different perspective – from underwater. If you’ve always dreamt of diving, then sign up for one of the many courses on offer, and start exploring a whole new world. Al Boom hosts ‘try dives’ every day in its pool in Jumeirah for Dhs150, so you can see if you like it, or dive right in with its Discover session, which take place in the pool, in Fujairah and even in the aquarium at Dubai Mall (best-suited to exhibitionists, as people will be watching with interest as you make friends with the sharks). After a quick theory lesson your instructor will brief you on the safety guidelines, and explain the equipment, then you can head down to try out your new skills. PADI courses are also available for more experienced divers, with options for children too. From Dhs150. Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm and Fri & Sat 8am-6pm www.alboomdiving.com (04 342 2993).
10. Tennis at Clark Francis Whether it’s knocking a ball about with a few friends or you have your eye on the Grand Slam, tennis is great for fitness, boosting your aerobic capacity, and toning you up. Get some white-soled shoes, borrow a racquet and give it a try at Clark Francis, an academy that opened up nearly 20 years ago in Dubai (that’s like 200 years in any other city). They offer private lessons (from Dhs250 for an hour) and group sessions (from Dhs1,650 for a term of 90-minute classes), plus fast track programmes and the chance to take part in tournaments. Kids can get involved too, with lessons and mini tennis, and even training to be a ball boy or girl. Teaching takes place at schools and sports clubs all over the UAE, so visit the website to find the one closest to you. From Dhs250. Various times and locations. www.cftennisacademy.com (800-TENNIS).
TEAM SPORTS 1. Bubble Soccer at Flip Out Not one for purists, Bubble Soccer is a fusion of football and zorbing, where you play a mini match on a smaller pitch while wearing – wait for it – giant inflatable balls over your head and body. Your legs are free to run around, but you’ll almost definitely fall (or be pushed) over, and that’s all part of the fun. Players can roll, somersault and bounce around, while trying to score goals – there’s no goalkeeper, so you’re all in it together. Flip Out organises matches at Kite Beach, opposite the volleyball courts, with the choice of ten-minute or 20-minute sessions. From Dhs25. Sun-Thurs 2pm-7pm, Fri &Sat 10am-7pm. Kite Beach, Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim, www.flipout.ae (600 567 568).
2. Cricket with ICC Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Sports City has welcomed some of the biggest names in the sport, with tournaments drawing big crowds of fans from all over the world. Close by is the ICC (International Cricket Council) Academy, a purpose-built centre with two floodlit ODI accredited ovals, a practice facility with 38 bays, boasting Australian, Asian, English and a variety of non-turf practice wickets, a six-bay floodlit cricket cage, indoor conditioning centre, and Olympic swimming pool. Yes, it’s big. And impressive. Why? Because it’s here where the region’s players and aspiring pros come to perfect their game. If you’d like to play, contact the academy about hiring and oval, or if you’d like to join a team that takes part the regular competitions. From Dhs225. Daily 10am-10pm. ICC, Dubai Sports City, next to Dubai Autodrome, www.iccacademy.net (04 4481355).
3. Netball with Dubai Netball League People who played netball at school can be split into two categories, the ones who loved every second, were on the team and made fast friends, and those who shivered from the sidelines, and could never really work out where the Wing Attack was allowed to go on the court. If you’re the former, and are missing the sport, Dubai Netball League has social and competitive teams, with matches on Wednesday nights throughout the cooler months, and training sessions on Sundays at The Sevens. These ladies take it seriously (though they play hard too, with frequent nights out), so it’s best suited to those who at least know the rules of the game. During the summer there are ‘pay as you play’ games, with the focus firmly on fun. From Dhs25. Various times. The Sevens, Al Ain Road, dubainetballleague.com (052 510 0260).
4. Rugby with Dubai Exiles Most of us just spectate and socialise at the annual Dubai Rugby Sevens, but if you’re itching to play at the epic weekend, and throughout the year, the Exiles will welcome you with (giant, probably rather hairy) open arms. All ages and abilities can join the club, with annual membership for men costing Dhs2,470 and there are options for touch rugby from Dhs850 per year – this game is really taking off in the UAE, with men and women alike signing up for an action-packed game every Tuesday night at The Sevens grounds, plus tournaments all over the region and beyond, with past competitions taking place in Jersey and New Zealand. Membership from AED850. Various times. The Sevens, Al Ain Road, www.dubaiexiles.com (058 897 2961).
5. Football (mens and womens) with Duplays If those Friday brunches are catching up with you, and you need to shift the Dubai Stone but really can’t face the gym, then team sports might just get your heart racing. Duplays brings together players of all levels, either as individuals or as teams, for tournaments, so it’s a great way to meet people. There are three football leagues, offering social nights on Mondays and Wednesdays, plus a more competitive bunch having a kick around on Tuesdays, with seven-a-side and matches played outside on the pitch in Barsha, and there are some great (often cash) prizes for those who come top of the table. Dhs524 for seven weeks. Various times and locations. www.duplays.com (04 447 2394).
6. Basketball (mens and womens) with Duplays Do you wish you were a little bit taller? Wish you were a baller? Wish you had mates to play with every week? Duplays basketball league attracts Dubai’s lankiest lovers of sport, who come together for a social game each week. At GEMS Wellington Academy, just off Al Khail Road. All abilities are welcome, and you can enter the league either on your own (Duplays will then randomly match you with teams who need more players) or as a team of seven, with two subs. Dhs524 for seven weeks. Various times and locations. www.duplays.com (04 447 2394).
7. Dragon boating A traditional Chinese sport, dragon boat racing has been taking place for over 2,000 years, with the once teak vessels now made from carbon fibre for speed. Sizes vary, but most teams have 22 people on board, with 20 paddlers sitting in pairs, one drummer to help everyone stay in time, and a ‘sweep’ who steers, though some boats can carry up to 50. Here in Dubai, there are a large number of teams who compete in tournaments throughout the year, and train together both in and out of the water, with most racing sessions taking place early in the morning. You can visit the Dubai Dragon Boat website to find the one that most appeals to you, and you’ll also find details of upcoming events. www.dubaidragonboat.com
8. Water polo with Dubai Water Camels With as much action happening below the water as above, newcomers to water polo are often surprised by the physical nature of the game (that’s a nice way of saying that they beat each other up quite a lot). The rules are simple – you’re not allowed to touch the floor unless you’re the goalie, you can only handle the ball with one hand, it can be passed backwards, forwards and sideways, and teams have 30 seconds from taking possession in which to shoot. Training with Dubai Water Camels happens on Sunday and Wednesday nights at the Hamdan Sports Complex. Dhs50. Various times. Hamdan Sports Complex, Exit 611, Opp. Global Village, Emirates Road, www.waterpolo.ae (052 938 8885).
9. Beach volleyball An Olympic sport since 1966 (though Top Gun really put it in the public eye), beach volleyball gives you a hit of vit D while working on your hand-eye coordination, muscle tone, and tan. In Dubai there are a number of places you can play, including The Beach at JBR and Kite Beach, though there’s nothing to stop you turning up with your own portable net and having a game anywhere. Want something more formal? Duplays has a popular league where mixed teams can play on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Dhs500 for seven weeks. Various times and locations. www.duplays.com (04 447 2394).
10. Paintballing at Jebel Ali Shooting Club The scene of many a team building day out (who doesn’t love the chance to attack the boss?) and stag do, paintballing at Jebel Ali Club is an action-packed way to get some exercise and an adrenaline boost as you run, duck, hide and shoot your way to victory. You’ll be given all the gear, from guns to goggles, then pick the package you want, from 100 to 500 paintballs, then let loose in the arena. There are a choice of scenarios available, from protecting one player to capturing a flag from the opposing team, or eliminating your enemy completely. You might lose some friends here, but you’ll also burn some calories. From Dhs90. Daily, various times. Jebel Ali Shooting Club, Jebel Ali, www.paintballdubai.com (050 651 4583).
YOGA, PILATES AND MEDITATION 1. Aerial yoga at Define If – like most – you spend too much time looking down at your computer or phone, then an hour of aerial yoga might just straighten you out. Define’s studio has hammocks suspended from the ceilings, and three times a week you can literally hang out there, being guided through a class of stretching, breathing and strengthening. Some of the poses will be familiar to seasoned yogis, but all levels are welcome, with no restrictions on age, height or weight. You’ll use the hammocks to suspend upside down, which is great for decompressing the neck and spine as your body hangs freely. It’s also good for the abs, and you’ll no doubt have a good laugh during that first session (which is free). You’ll glide out of there – then get on your phone to tell your friends. Dhs120. Various times. Unit 17 Silverene Tower B, Dubai Marina, www.definebody.com (04 421 6377).
2. Sound meditation at Miracles If the sound of silence stresses you out and sends that monkey mind of yours into meltdown, then meditating with an instructor who uses gong and Tibetan singing bowls could help. Ready for the science bit? The combination of certain frequencies of sound are said to help balance and de-stress your body, restoring your own vibrations, and Miracles Wellness Centre in Barsha Heights has a class where you’ll be guided to become ‘mindfully aware’ of the shifts in vibrations in the room, allowing your mind to relax. The Pranic healing of the ancient bowls is also said to work on unlocking blockages in energy, so you should leave feeling decidedly better. Dhs84. Daily 9am-9pm. Office 306, Icon Tower, next to Byblos Hotel, Barsha Heights, www.miraclesworldwide.com (04 363 9307).
3. Underwater yoga at Atlantis The Palm Well, it’s not technically underwater (that would be a crazy free diving-yoga combo for a very limited crowd) but with this class in the famed aquarium at Atlantis The Palm, you’ll be surrounded by fishy friends. Taking place every Tuesday and Friday morning from 8am to 9am, these sessions have very limited spaces, but if you score a spot you’ll find yourself practicing Hatha to improve your flexibility, strength and balance, while in the unique Lost Chambers, so you can spy sting rays, sharks and jelly fish gliding past while you’re in downward dog. Bottled water and mats are provided, and the session is open to all abilities. Dhs125. Tues & Fri 8am. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2000).
4. Yoga at Green Planet Dubai’s very own biodome, indoor jungle Green Planet, opens its doors early every other weekend, and yogis can get their flow on amid toucans, monkeys and sloths (and snakes, cockroaches and creepy-crawlies, but they’re safely locked away). Taking place from 8am on Fridays and Saturday mornings, instructors from 136.1 will lead you through poses among the glorious flora and fauna, plus meditation with only the sounds of birds to distract you from your practice. This really is connecting with nature. Dhs100. Fri & Sat twice a month. Green Planet, behind CityWalk, Jumeirah, www.136point1.ae (04 441 6287).
5. Full Moon yoga at Madinat Jumeirah Talise Spa hosts daily sunset yoga on the beach, but once a month the city’s yogis head to the shoreline for a special class, under the full moon. What is the significance of the full moon? Because our bodies are made up on 70% water, it is thought that the moon has an impact on us, as it does on tides, with claims that it can increase mental and physical strength. Typically, around 100 people turn up for this monthly class and Talise’s own guru guides attendees through a series of invigorating (that means not very easy) postures to best appreciate the full moon, though the highlight for many is at the end; lying on the sand, looking up at the stars, listening to the waves. Dhs99. Monthly. Talise Spa, Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh Road, www.jumeirah.com (04 366 8888).
6. Rooftop yoga at Sheraton Grand With knock-out views of the skyline (the stuff of Instagram dreams) this is yoga, Dubai style. The rooftop classes at Sheraton Grand attract a crowd of Lulu Lemon-clad lovelies, who round off their weekends with this sunset session. Taking place every Saturday evening, you’ll get there as the day darkens, and leave when the stars are out. In between? Expect an energetic class with sun salutations, before more restful poses to get you ready for the week ahead. Booking is advised. There are also full moon classes at this location costing Dhs60. Dhs88. Sat 5.30pm. Sheraton Grand Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.sheratongranddubai.com (04 503 4100).
7. Free yoga at The Beach One of the most frequent complaints about exercise classes is the cost. But these yoga classes at The Beach at JBR are totally free – so now what’s your excuse? Bring your yoga mat (or borrow one for free from Adventure HQ nearby), towel and water to the South Lawn at 7am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to enjoy a sunrise session with fellow early birds. The hour-long classes are suitable for all abilities, and centred on Vinyasa yoga, which focuses on breath and flow, so set that alarm. Free. Mon, Wed, Fri 7am. The Beach, opposite JBR, www.thebeach.ae (800 7699).
8. Reformer Pilates at Real Pilates While the Reformer machine might look downright terrifying (and akin to a Medieval torture device) there’s nothing to be scared of, and many find classes on this bit of kit actually easier than mat Pilates. Consisting of a narrow bed, with sliding carriage and adjustable springs (plus extras like a box and straps), the Reformer works the entire body, in a variety of poses, and you can regulate the tension and resistance depending on your strength and ability. It’s especially beneficial for those recovering from an injury, and Real Pilates also offers prenatal classes, with modifications for mums to be. Want to step it up? Try a Reformer Cardio class, which incorporates a jumpboard and cardio-tramp rebounder to get an aerobic workout while strengthening muscles, or the Pilates Chair sessions, which includes some seriously challenging exercises. Dhs120. Various times. Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Road, Jumeirah and ONE JLT Building, Al Sarayat Street, JLT, www.real-pilates.com (04 358 3228).
9. Cardio Pilates at Mojo How about a class that combines music, movement and machines? Mojo has devised a method that incorporates their sleek Allegro 2 Reformers with top tunes to give you a class full of aerobic and strengthening poses, where the client is always at the heart. You can even book a class based on your preference of muscle group that you want to target, and vote for the music. They only teach the Cardio Pilates class, which means all the instructors are passionate about the technique, and private sessions are available too. It’s probably not the best choice if you’re getting into exercise after a while, or have never worked out before – these guys are seriously fit – but if you’re looking for a new, addictive class that gets you long, lean muscles, this could be it. Dhs120. Daily 7am-7pm. Concord Tower, Sufouh Road, Dubai Media City. www.ilovemymojo.com (04 360 3399).
10. Power Yoga at 136.1 Thought yoga was all chilling in Savasana pose while wearing a ‘Nama-slay’ tee before going for a matcha green tea? Sometimes, but not always. And not here. Dubai Marina studio 136.1 offers a range of classes, from Jivamukti to Ashtanga, but it’s the fast-paced Power Yoga sessions that has everyone sweating. Literally. By the bucket. It combines dynamic movements with focus and strength, so this isn’t one for yogi newbies, unless you’re up for a challenge (one that might leave you unable to raise your arms above your head for a week). Intrigued about the studio’s name? It’s pronounced ‘one thirty-six point one’ and comes from the fact that 136.1 Hertz is the frequency of OM, which is thought to be the connecting sound of the universe. Dhs95. Daily 7am to 9pm. Trident Bayside, Dubai Marina, www.136point1.ae (04 441 6287).
FOOD 1. Common Grounds A world away from the food court madness of Mall of the Emirates is Common Grounds. Tapping into Dubai’s love of all things coffee, this café is a solid choice for a flat white, but it’s the dishes that keep its loyal customers packing out the industrial chic space. They do a mean range of pastries and big breakfasts, with the ubiquitous smashed avo, smoothie bowls and brekkie tacos to fuel that shopping spree, and flavour-packed plates like jerk chicken and the Mekong chicken burger. More health conscious? There is now a second, smaller branch inside the new Warehouse Gym at JBR, where the calories, protein and carb count are displayed on the menu, with a choice vitality bowls, with a build-your-own option so you can choose the components of your dream post-workout lunch. 8am to 10pm. Level 2, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha and Warehouse Gym, The Beach, opposite JBR, www.commongroundsdubai.com (050 106 9955).
2. Comptoir 102 Furniture, jewellery, candles and yes, food, Comptoir 102 is concept store and café, where you can escape fast food and the fast pace of life. And with three separate spaces – a cosy room with illusion wallpaper, the greenhouse-style eatery at the back, and the coveted outdoor terrace – you’re sure to find a spot to relax.
The philosophy behind the café is to work with local farms, eat seasonally (so the menu changes daily according to the harvest), and serve food that has been prepared with techniques such as fermenting, steaming, dehydrating and cooking at low temperatures to maximize taste and to be kind to your body.
Dishes are sugar and dairy-free, with vegan choices, so dishes include raw chocolate porridge, buckwheat pancakes and seaweed pesto. Don’t leave without trying one of the juices or smoothies – the activated charcoal lemonade is famed for being useful after a night out. Daily 7.30pm-9pm, 102 Jumeirah Road, Jumeirah 1, www.comptoir102.com (04 385 4555).
3. Gourmet by Kcal Kcal began life as a small café in JLT and quickly became famed for providing healthy lunches for stressed out workers. This hotel-based incarnation takes its ‘as nature intended’ ethos to a whole new crowd of hungry diners, offering locally-sourced, organic ingredients from Ripe farms, 100% gluten-free dishes and nutritional transparency. The result is an impressive menu packed with the likes of summer rolls, superfood salads and even pizzas, which are made with either a carrot and pumpkin or zucchini and parmesan crust.
It’s popular for breakfasts too, with overnight oats, nut butters and a winning shakshouka available, while non-vegans can build their own omelette. There’s even an alternative to ladies’ night, called ‘Gourmet Girls’ when women get a hot breakfast dish, cold dish and a drink for DHS86, from Sunday to Wednesdays, from 8am to noon. Daily 8am-10pm. Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina, www.gourmetbykcal.com (04 511 7373).
4. Hippy Deli Flying the hippy flag loud and proud, this JLT kitchen is a big advocate of the vegan lifestyle, with loads of dishes for anyone who is dedicated or just dabbling. Think chickpea scramble with home-made nut cheese in wholewheat saj, smoothie bowls, plant-based burgers and ‘nice cream’, introducing Dubai diners to a world of ingredients, and showing that you don’t need to compromise on taste (or live off sprouts) if you decide to go animal-free. They’re even taking the avo on toast obsession to a whole new level, with three flavour combos, not to mention build your own Buddha bowls and acai bowls. Want to dine in? Sorry, but this is a delivery only concept, but at least you can enjoy your protein pancakes at home in your yoga pants. www.facebook.com/hippydeli
5. Joga One of the first healthy hangouts in Dubai, Joga urges ‘eat your joy’ – along with dishes like green quinoa, falafel wraps and peanut butter granola, presumably. You’ll find vegetarian and vegan options on the menu alongside meat, so it’s a solid choice if you and your crew aren’t on the same page when it comes to diet, and delivery around the four branches () is available, as well as catering.
Fancy a treat or cheat? Joga bakes cookies and muffins (though they are on the healthy side, at least it feels like you’re being a bit sinful). Sun-Thu 8am-7pm. DIFC, Downtown Jebel Ali, Media City and the Airport Freezone, www.eatjoga.com (04 3700 304).
7. Life N One A true urban oasis, walking into this holistic centre and cafe is to leave behind the stresses and strains of daily Dubai life. Offering yoga, meditation, workshops and more, it’s a leafy space that’s a bit Bali and a bit bonkers. In a good way. The café itself avoids using microwaves and induction cookers, striving to include as many locally grown, organic ingredients as possible. Portions are generous, and the dishes are well known for being as bountiful as they are tasty, with chickpea omelettes filled with veggies and a colourful acai bowl favourites from the breakfast menu, freshly made soups, vegan burgers, baked sweet potatoes, zuchinni noodles and plenty of desserts, with baked apples, a vegan cheesecake and the best-selling Snickers pie. We recommend leaving at least 45 minutes between feasting and yoga… Daily 8am-7pm. 27B Street, off Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, www.lifenone.com (04 343 6676).
6. Omnia Gourmet Located in the Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, a hub of exciting independent eateries, Omnia Gourmet is the brainchild of British chef Silvena Rowe, a favourite on the Dubai dining scene. With a menu that is almost entirely gluten-free, it is a must-visit for those of us looking to eat a little lighter, without compromising on flavour, offering a vast selection of sugar-free, dairy-free and raw dishes on the menu, plus options for Paleo and vegan diets, The emphasis is firmly on the Middle East, with a touch of Mediterranean; think freshly caught fish, locally grown vegetables and a farm to table concept, with choices available at the deli counter.
As for the décor, it will satisfy even the most jaded of Instagrammers, with greenery hanging from the ceiling, stylish floor tiles, and a terrace overlooking the water. Daily 7am to 9pm. Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, off Jumeirah Beach Road, www.omniagourmet.co (04 343 7181).
8. STM’D Blast steaming is the secret weapon in the STM’D kitchen, creating dishes that contain no oils or butter, plus any many of their original nutrients as possible. But how does it taste? And it is just a menu of edamame? You might be pleasantly surprised. STM’D offers three meal plans (for slimming down, eating clean and bulking up), with Moroccan lamb tagine, Asian cod and peanut butter smoothies to get you through the day, plus the option of ordering individual meals online. You’ll find dim sum, signature dishes, drinks and desserts, and the option to create your own from a range of freshly prepared ingredients. If you’re time poor, want to eat right and happy to budget around Dhs2,000 per month, then this could be for you. www.stmd.kitchen
9. Ultra Brasserie With two branches so both Downtown dwellers and the Marina massive can visit, Ultra Brasserie serves up local produce and big flavours, with juices, breakfasts and a plant-based section of the menu. Here you’ll find the green poke bowl (brown rice with freekeh, baby spinach, broccoli, seeded avocado, green beans and pesto dressing), a vegan burger with beetroot ketchup, and sweet potato fritters with avocado and seeds. There’s also a deli counter packed with sandwiches, bagels, chicken skewers, quiches and spring rolls. The cafes themselves are all light and bright, attracting the pre-work crowd for a coffee, weekend brunchers looking for a post-work out bite, and office workers grabbing a healthy dinner on the way home. Open daily 7am-10pm. Emaar Square, Downtown and Marina Plaza Building, Next to Marina Mall, Dubai Marina, www.ultra.ae (04 277 5644).
10. Urth by Nabz&G Chef Nabih (AKA Nabz) has boldly gone where no chef has gone before – Urth. With neighbours of the fast food variety, this cosy café in JLT is home to a universe of nutritious nibbles, with dishes of the day chalked up on a board, and a vibe that makes you feel right at home. You’ll find raw, vegetarian and vegan options, plus juices and smoothies to refresh and replenish, with plentiful portions – and everything is colourful and vibrantly fresh, from the smoothies to the salads, which are scattered with edible flowers. The Buddha Burger is a big hit with the loyal diners (a quinoa, sweet potato and kidney bean patty served with fries), and the warming curries are a real favourite too. Meat is available for any carni friends, and the friendly staff are happy to guide you through the menu, suggesting where options are available to ‘veganise’ (we just made that word up). There’s also a ‘chef at home’ service, for your vegan dinner parties and celebrations. Sat-Thu 11am-10pm. Cluster J, Jumeirah Lakes Tower, www.nabzandg.com (04 276 7287).
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