Shaping up doesn’t have to be a chore – try our 10 favourite summer workouts in Dubai
1 Swimming lessons
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that won’t aggravate an old knee injury, unlike running or cycling. It’s not the best choice if weight loss is your priority, but it is great for cardio and will tone muscles. What’s more, there’s nothing like diving into a chilled pool in the height of Dubai’s humid summer. Check out Speedo Swim Squads, which run adult lessons at many of Dubai’s schools and are well qualified to work on your stroke – they’ll give you a variety of moves to work different parts of your body. We checked out a lesson: the vibe was friendly and within an hour our mum-style breaststroke looked almost professional. We even developed our front crawl kick a little. The arms? Well, that’s another story.
A drop-in hour-long class at Speedo is Dhs45, or you can buy 10 sessions for Dhs400. Classes are held at locations across Dubai, with a focus on Jumeirah and the Greens area. See www.speedodubai.net for more info.
This Latin dance movement started out as a fitness video craze and is a dream cardio workout: you’ll sweat, but you’ll also get the party started. We’re no Fred Astaire, but we found the moves fairly easy to grasp – sure, we didn’t look as cool as the instructor, but the hip movements were a good core workout. There’s something about Latin music and the accompanying shuffles that are really addictive: if you like dancing (whether at a club or on Dance Dance Revolution at Magic Planet), you’ll love this class. Search YouTube for ‘Zumba beginners’ for a reel from the original videos. Hilarious!
Dance your socks off at Core Studio in Damac Waves, Dubai Marina for Dhs75 an hour for non-members. Call 04 362 6385 for info.
A low-energy exercise that focuses on improving core strength and flexibility, Yogilates involves no cardio, but it will trim your waistline. It’s good for people that like the stretching aspect of yoga but not the chanting, and those who enjoy Pilates’ core focus but find the lack of movement in the discipline frustrating. This class takes place every Sunday at 9.30am along the Dubai Festival City Marina Promenade, so it’s not great for those who work normal office hours. That said, these classes have just started, so more sessions may be introduced if there’s enough interest.
An hour-long class costs Dhs50 per session; bring your own towel/mat and water. The class will move indoors in the summer when the weather gets too hot. Call 050 328 9642 for information.
4 Concept 10 10
If you’re time-poor and not the type who can watch a whole movie while plodding on the treadmill, the private sessions at Concept 10 10 should suit you down to the ground. The scientific discipline eliminates momentum and ups resistance so you work your muscles to the point of failure, all in just 20 minutes. We went along to a class expecting an easy ride, but the precision of the machines and the slowness of the movement meant our muscles felt like jelly by the end. We did two minutes and 30 seconds on each of the six machines (which focused on our neck, back, arms, shoulders, legs, glutes and abs) and we couldn’t walk the next day: a sign that the science works, and all in 20 minutes a week. One downside though: cutting time doesn’t mean cutting costs.
Building 49, Dubai Healthcare City, next to City Hospital. Dhs275 for one session, Dhs1,950 for 10, Dhs4,385 for 25, or Dhs7,800 for 50 sessions. There’s an introductory offer for new members that costs Dhs499 for four sessions. Call 04 429 8567 for more information.
Originating in Russia, the kettlebell workout has gained huge popularity with sports enthusiasts owing to the emphasis it places on core fitness. Kettlebells – effectively cannonballs with handles – are rather cumbersome, so it’s important to have an expert on hand take you through the basics and teach you the correct technique to ensure you don’t do yourself any damage. But this isn’t to say kettlebells should only be wielded by Soviet strongmen: the workout is all about technique and anyone can do it. Once you’ve got a hang of the basics, the complexity of your exercises will evolve, as will your washboard stomach.
Classes take place at locations across Dubai and cost Dhs75. For more details, contact kettlebells instructor Peter Sullivan on 050 378 7367 or email email@example.com
6 Body pump
Being shouted at by an overly enthusiastic man dressed in Lycra may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the workout you get from a body pump class will make it worth your while. The classes, essentially aerobics with weights, are friendly, fast-paced and accessible to all ages and fitness levels. Participants choose how much weight they want to ‘pump’ depending on the exercise, but rest assured you’ll feel the burn even when using the lightest dumbbells.
Classes are held at The Big Apple at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and cost Dhs40 for non-members. Call 04 319 8660 for info.
Anyone who’s pumped out 1km on an indoor machine knows that rowing is a killer workout for both the heart and the muscles. Surprisingly, it’s hardest on your lower body – your upper body only takes about 25 per cent of the strain. It’s great for those of us that want a genuine fitness programme but hate being stuck indoors: the crazily early hours at which rowers usually train mean it’s feasible even in summer. Monty’s Rowing School offers hour-long classes on the water between 5.30am and 7.30pm seven days a week (no excuses). Just bring your own gloves, or you can try thick socks with the tops cut out.
The school is based on the Bur Dubai side of the creek, in Al Boom Tourist Village, and classes are Dhs120 for non-members. See www.montysrowingschool.com.
Paddlesurfing requires a good sense of balance and – as its name suggests – a great deal of paddling. The former helps to develop your core strength, while the latter works the back, shoulders and arms. Compared with its paddle-less counterpart, paddlesurfing is pretty easy to get the hang of, and after a couple of lessons you’ll be sufficiently experienced to concentrate on speed and power, which will in turn benefit both your physique and fitness.
For details, call Surf Shop UAE on 04 399 0989.
Finally, the workout for gym fanatics with ADHD. You don’t need an attention span for this workout, which jumps from exercise to exercise every 30 seconds or so. Plus, it’s a whole-body workout – one minute you might be doing squats, the next you’re bench pressing – and because it’s so fast-paced, you get a fantastic cardio workout at the same time. Be warned, though: it’s not for layabouts. The exercise is strenuous – it just doesn’t always feel that way because you’re not stuck on any one move for too long.
The Aviation Club runs circuit classes, aka Body Bootcamp, three times a week. Classes are Dhs50 for non-members. Call 04 283 3071 for info.
10 Muay Thai kickboxing
This combat sport is a fantastic way to tone all muscles (particularly your quads, biceps and calves) as well as gain cardio strength. The classes suit people who like high-energy workouts with a bit of biffo, but it’s not all macho anger and aggression and is actually quite technique-focused. We paired up with a partner (tip: find someone approximately your height) for some light sparring practice. You can work as hard as you like, depending on how hard you punch and kick, although it was the sit-up extravaganza at the end of the class that ruined us – we felt the burn the morning after. On the way out our sparring partner proudly showed off her phenomenal forearm muscles, proving that the sport works varied muscles (and leaving our tiny triceps feeling a little inferior).
Dubai Muay Thai Kickboxing Club teaches classes across Dubai: Dhs60 for non-members. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for info.