Fitness First’s new branch at Vision Tower in Business Bay is home to the Octagon multi-purpose workout system
The Octagon sits in the middle of the 19,000 sq ft space and resembles a kids’ climbing frame. The versatile fitness rig is new to Fitness First gyms and accommodates up to 12 athletes working out at the same time. The gym’s management hope that the variety of exercise options will appeal to CrossFit fans and those who might usually shy away from the intimidating heavy weights area.
At Fitness First Vision Tower, the Octagon is used for personal and individual training. Our instructor, John Aspinall, gets us warmed up with a gentle jog on the treadmill followed by a set of dynamic stretches and some sports movement drills. John is a former professional footballer from the UK and enjoys adding a sports element to his personal training sessions.
He enquires about our level of fitness and any injuries that we may be carrying, and devises a full-body workout using the Octagon stations based on our preferences and ability. He tells us that the device has been popular with the gym’s CrossFit community, many attending classes where athletes rotate stations, makin the most of its multi-faceted build.
Despite its name, the Octagon is not always set out octagonally. The unit can be reshaped to fit the gym space, and provides a good middle ground for those who enjoy weights but get intimidated by the big machines, and the cardio crowd who want to mix up their routine.
One of the first things we notice about the Octagon is a set of pull-up bars, which are so high up we’d need a box to even attempt to reach them. Sensing our trepidation, John suggests we attempt some triceps dips on the low bench instead.
On one side of the unit are three bars for squat weights, plus sets of rubberised weights. The weights side of the octagon has special flooring, so even if the heavy plates are slammed down after a clean and jerk, neither the mat nor weights will break. John got us to try a set of squat presses using weights and then we moved on to the opposite side of the rig to use a set of slammers (weighted flat bags). The slammers can be used like a more flexible medicine ball, and are an effective way to release tension and tone up abs. We hoisted them above our head and then jumped to slam the bag down with a most satisfying and resounding thud.
Also on the lower level of the Octagon is a pair of thick, heavy black battle ropes. Wrapped around the unit, the ropes can be used to sculpt the muscles and provide a cardio workout.
We round off the circuit session with a warm down and some PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching, where a partner helps to push you into a deeper stretch.
All in all, the Octagon provides the gym with a practical and compact workout space for the growing interest in CrossFit and similar types of conditioning exercise. The benefits of it will depend on the creativity of the trainers and the individual, but everything that you need for a full workout is there. We left feeling fully exercised and not so afraid of the big apparatus anymore. Free for members, Dhs100 day pass for non-members. Open Sat-Thu 5.30am-11pm, Fri 7am-9pm. Fitness First Vision Tower, Business Bay, www.fitnessfirstme.com (04 232 8002).
Weird fitness devices
Electric Muscle Stimulation EMS is a full-body training exercise using impulse current. It’s great for weight loss, building strength and muscular development. www.my30minutes.com (04 385 5353).
Power Plate These fitness devices transmit waves of energy throughout the body, activating muscle contractions between 25 and 50 times per second to help shake off weight. www.dubailadiesclub.com (04 349 9922).
Hypoxi This machine helps you lose excess and stubborn weight from around the thighs and stomach, and also help get rid of cellulite. Ladies wear a Vacunaut suit with 122 pressure chambers that sculpt the body during a workout. www.bodysmart.ae (04 328 0191).