We try out some of Dubai's top fit and fun activities to sample, so off that sofa and get fit, folks
Chris Lord and Becky Lucas
1 Kite Surfing Michelle Wranik Fun Factor: 4/5 If you’re wondering how to whip dormant muscles into shape, take a hint from the supremely buff physiques on Kite Beach. Wrestling these kites into the air works all upper-body muscles, particularly triceps and biceps, and maintaining balance strengthens the lower body and core (bring on the svelte abs). Initial lessons involve learning how to control the kite on the beach before heading out on the water (the real fun part, therefore, can only come with practice). As a weight-bearing sport, I had to try to harness and control the power of the wind, aiming to eventually use that to roar across the waves. This left me reassuringly achy and somewhere on the way to toned after just one lesson. Kite People (050 455 9098/www.kitepeople.net). Lessons are Dhs300 an hour (six are recommended). Instructors are International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO) certified. 1.2 shawarmas burned off per lesson
2 Diving Jeremy Lawrence Fun Factor: 5/5 I’m 20 metres beneath the Indian Ocean and so close to a leopard shark I could touch it. I’m bewitched by this otherworldly experience and care nothing for whether this counts as exercise. But, according to Sam Joffe of Al Boom, I will have burned 450 calories on a single dive. That’s not all: nitrogen builds up in your body while underwater and your metabolism is raised for the next 24 hours as your body works to reduce it. Getting out there also involves hauling heavy oxygen tanks, so you’re working your body before you’re even off the boat. Exhausting exhilaration. Al Boom Diving (04 342 2993/www.alboomdiving.com) Padi Open Water courses Dhs2,350 1 shawarmas burned off per lesson
3 Ice Skating James Wilkinson Fun Factor: 5/5 ‘Ice skating provides a brilliant workout,’ says Dubai Ice Rink operations manager Richard Rowlands. And, as a five-time British ice skating champion, he should know. ‘It works out the hamstrings, the thighs, the buttocks and the stomach. And the more you do it, the more you’ll get out of it.’ The first lesson doesn’t seem that intensive – my heart is racing more out of fear of falling than exertion – but even the act of standing in skates exercises muscles as the body adjusts to maintain balance. And as I learn to skate faster the effort puts beads of sweat on my brow. Hot ice? You’d better believe it. Dubai Ice Rink (04 437 3111/www.dubaiicerink.com). Classes cost Dhs500 per person for five weeks of group lessons, Dhs120 per person for a single semi-private lesson (up to five students) and Dhs150 for a single individual lesson. All include access to the two-hour public skating session afterwards. Lessons are held daily 1 shawarmas burned off per lesson
4 Archery Daisy Carrington Fun Factor: 3/5 I lift weights almost daily and can hit a bull’s-eye at the Magic Planet shooting range. I therefore assumed I’d be a natural at archery. Sadly, as instructor Rao patiently introduces me to several bows, including his own, which clocked in at a hefty 3.6kgs I was surprised at how much my arms struggled just to pull back the arrow. While never managing to hit a bull’s eye, Rao assures me this is normal for a beginner. Archery will never work my gut, but I’m told a good amount of time on the range can tone my arms into a defined set of guns. Did I have a good time? Not quite Magic Planet – but not far off.’ Dubai Archers (050 588 0951). Dhs50 at Sharjah Wanderers Golf Club 0.5 shawarmas burned off per lesson
5 Rowing Chris Lord Fun Factor: 5/5 The best route to fitness is to forget you’re even working out. That’s why you need a peaceful sunrise on Dubai Creek as your setting and the calming calls of ‘And flick, and flick’ from Monty Khwaja. ‘For anyone gym-shy, this is a power workout,’ says Monty, who heads up his own rowing school, and insists that this is one of the few non-weight-bearing sports to exercise all the major muscle groups, including quads, biceps, triceps, lats, glutes and abdominal muscles. It’s also notoriously cardio-heavy but fortunately, as I heave-ho under Garhoud Bridge one more time, the speed provides a rather refreshing burst of self-propelled air con. Buff-inducing bliss. Monty’s Rowing School (050 738 0910), leaves from Al Boom Tourist Village. Lessons are Dhs120 with reduced rates for members 1.7 shawarmas burned off per lesson
6 Knee Boarding Celia Topping Fun Factor: 1/5 It all looks so easy – like waterskiing, but with a half-sized surfboard to shimmy up and kneel on. But, after having my arms almost ripped from their sockets by the departing speedboat for the seventh time, I admit, I’ve almost given up. ‘It’s OK, nobody gets up first time,’ the instructor soothes. Prolonged, repeat lessons, promise to give core muscles a serious work out. As you become more adept in controlling the board, the demand on your arms is lessened and transferred onto the abs, lower and upper back. However, I can’t say I’ve had that much fun this time. Club Mina (04 399 3333), Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort. Lessons are 20 minutes: Dhs220 or Dhs200 for Club Mina members 1.2 shawarmas burned off per lesson 7 Squash Laura Chubb Fun Factor: 4/5 Judging by the wreckage that is my entire body after my first lesson, squash just might be the ultimate ‘get buff’ activity. Nikky Harradine – not so much a woman as a machine, who has won the European Small Nations Squash Tournament three years in a row – teaches all the basics: grip, shots, swing, positioning and footwork. ‘Squash works every muscle in your body – you will tone up everywhere,’ she assures me. The hour spent bending, stretching and running to return the ball ensures my thighs, calves and upper arms are all aching for days afterwards. Oh, and there’s a couple of muscles giving me particular pain. I’ll leave it to Harradine to explain: ‘You can always tell a squash player by their bottom.’ Squash with Nikky Harradine (050 450 7762). Individual lessons are Dhs150 for members of Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dhs180 for non-members 1.6 shawarmas burned off per lesson
What else can you do to tone, trim and tune up without breaking from your usual Dubai routine? Dominic Mahaga, fitness manager at Le Méridien Dubai’s Natural Elements Spa & Fitness, explains… Watching DVDs Sit on a fitness ball instead of the sofa. This will utilise your core muscles, giving you a firm back and improved abs. Snack on fruit to avoid those ice-cream and crisp calories. Eating at brunches Obviously go for the healthy steamed and grilled options. Drink plenty of water and eat breakfast beforehand to avoid overeating. And steer clear of temptation by sitting far away from the buffet.
Sitting in traffic Stretch your feet and wiggle your toes to allow blood to flow efficiently, improving circulation. Stretch your neck and other limbs. Flexible muscles allow you to react more easily to any situation.
Walking in malls Walking faster quickens the pulse and improves your metabolism. Ditch the trolley and carry your bags instead. Always use the stairs instead of the lifts and escalators – and avoid the food court.
Sitting in the office Sit upright to strengthen core muscles. Move around while on the phone. Stretch for five minutes, every two to three hours. And try and rest your eyes from the screen every hour.
Five ways to be effortlessly fitter
A few simple changes can make you instantly a whole lot healthier – and buffer. 1 Stand up Whenever on the phone, get up. By standing an extra hour over the course of the day, an average 80kg man will burn 90 more calories, according to calculations in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
2 Clean your desk A study at the University of Arizona found that office telephones contain over 25,000 microbes per square inch, while keyboards have just over 3,000. They greatly increase your risk of illness, especially if you eat your lunch al desko. Get some disinfecting wipes, now!
3 Games are better than television Researchers at Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York discovered that playing video games improves performance in situations requiring precise hand-eye coordination. Gaming also releases dopamine, which was found to develop neural pathways from the brain to the hands. And mowing down hordes of Nazis in Call Of Duty: World At War is a great stress buster.
4 Cold water starter Drink a glass of cold water as soon as you get up. This peps up your metabolism that has been working a lot slower while you were sleeping. Your body will start working to warm you up after injesting cold liquid.
5 Get popping Having popcorn as a snack instead of crisps or chocolate is far better for your bod. Get a popcorn maker and make your own as it’s quick, cheap, fat free, sugar free, low in calories and contains no artificial additives. For more health and fitness tips, Men’s Fitness magazine is out now
Eat to get slimmer
If you want to lose weight, eat, says Dubai nutritionist Ahlaam Ali. ‘Everyone should eat five times a day – even when trying to lose weight. It keeps your blood sugar stable, your metabolism working efficiently, and will stop bingeing. Eat three main meals and two snacks. Skipping meals is a no-no. Start with a detox because that helps to de-bung your system and kick-start your metabolism.
‘Your diet will then need to be well-balanced. Protein is important but don’t forget carbs, as they help you lose weight in a healthy way. Eat complex carbs such as quinoa, brown rice and jacket potatoes. Avoid bread, pasta and white rice.
‘Remember: any programme that cuts out food groups is a fad diet. You’ll lose weight drastically but suffer muscle wastage – and you’ll then put the weight back on.
‘People think cutting all fats is good, but you need mono-unsaturated fats as they actually help lose the bad fat. Eat avocados, nuts, seeds and olives, and avoid anything that says hydrogenated or trans fats on the packet. Finally, snack on nuts, seeds, apricots, prunes, or rice cakes with a little peanut butter.’ Call Ahlaam on 04 341 1040 or visit www.powereat.com
Personal trainer and Fitness O2 boot camp shout-master Stephen Davis tells us how to supplement these activities with some good old-fashioned exercise. What’s a good supplementary programme for these exercises? You have to focus on sustained cardio activity: get in 30 minutes of steady running, three times a week, fast enough to work your heart.
What’s a good measure of your own fitness? At bootcamp, we ask people to run a mile and then time them. This is a good way to assess fitness at the start of a programme and to measure how that improves as they progress through the weeks. Your readers can do the same. Fitness O2 (050 955 6129) call to join
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John Watkinson Sep 29, 2009 11:21 am
How about Motocross. The season starts on the 9th of October, and if this doesn't shake you into fitness, nothing will. The benefit is that its so much fun you don't even know you've done a work out.
julie-ann Aug 11, 2009 07:27 am
All of the above looks and sounds great. If you all want to do something fun and fit for your mind body and soul that is also musical, try the African Djembe Drum Session on a Monday evening at DUCTAC - mall of the emirates 7.30-8.30. Great way to exercise your upper body, relax your mind and chill out - also burns calories while you have musical, rhythmical fun. Medically proven to boost the immune system, raise endorphins in the bloodstream and balance left and right brain:-)
Gerhard Jul 28, 2009 05:21 am
Why hasn't some bright spark come up with a 'weighted' remote control that can double as a dumbbell, so one can exercise during the ad breaks?