New fitness classes in Dubai

Flexible fitness classes for even the busiest of working schedules


Approximately 75 per cent of people in the UAE are obese or overweight, according to a recent study. And, as we all know, it’s not uncommon to work 12 hours+ a day here: we think there might just be a link between those two facts. Fortunately, so do a number of gyms around Dubai, and, in a canny move, they are beginning to tailor short, snappy classes for the city’s time-short career-climbers.

Here, we review a selection of flexible, quick classes and treatments: revealing how to get buff in the minimum amount of time. Now, say hello to those biceps…


What happened? Tabata is based on the theory that short but extremely intense periods of activity do more to burn fat and achieve aerobic fitness quicker than slower-paced workouts. To that end, the whole Tabata workout lasts 12 minutes and is comprised of six cycles of 20 second burst of exercise, followed by 10 seconds rest, repeated continuously four times. Any exercise that gets your blood pumping can be used. My trainer, Hanan, tends to use army routines, such as the burpee (a squat, thrust and jump motion) together with squat jumps, high knees and tricep dips, which provide a total muscle workout.

How easily did it fit into your timetable? The beauty of Tabata is that the whole thing takes 15 minutes so it’s perfect for those wanting maximum benefits for the minimum amount of time.

Difficulty rating: 2/10 in terms of the simplicity of the exercises. 10/10 in terms of how hard it pushes you to the limit.

Would you do it again? Definitely. As a quick route to fitness it’s ideal. But remember: if you don’t feel like throwing up or passing out, then you’re not trying hard enough.
Jeremy Lawrence. Dhs650 per month (12 sessions), Safa Park, Mon & Wed at 8:15am; Discovery Gardens, Sun, Tue and Thu at 7:30pm, (050 655 5932).

Speed Fitness

What happened? Any classroom that has a shagpile rug on the floor is going to be above average. I don a two-piece Lycra suit before being snugly fit into a (damp) wetsuit style life vest and velcro straps are positioned round my arms, legs and bum. Quite medical looking leads plug various parts of the suit into what looks a little like a vibroplate (without the plate). This machine then send a mild electric current through my muscles, making them move 85 times a second. For 15 minutes I repeat a simple series of squats, lunges and sit ups along with my trainer in time with 15-second bursts of intense tingling. It’s not unpleasant but does make my body randomly twitch for hours afterwards. After this workout, which should tighten muscles in a fraction of the time the gym takes, I move to passive exercise (my favourite!) where I lie on a sofa while the machine pulses cellulite right off my body.

How easily did it fit into your timetable? The first session lasted just under an hour but the location in Jumeirah means this isn’t possible in a lunch time unless you live nearby.
Difficulty rating: 5/10, due to those squats.

Would you do it again? Yes. Anything for an easy route to being slim!
Georgina Wilson-Powell. Dhs195 for the first session, Dhs295 following sessions. Eleche Natural Beauty Retreat, villa 42, Street 10c, Jumeriah 1. (04 349 4942).

Regime Fitness: Circuit training

What happened? After a quick 7am registration at Dubai Marina Yacht Club, we all warm up by skipping for a minute – it lulls me into thinking the workout won’t be that difficult… and then it is. There are 10 exercises, each to be done for 60 seconds, with a 30 second interval between them. That’s just one lap. I have to do three. When I try the class, there is everything from basic lunges, running, and squats, to kettlebells, boxing, bench presses and burpees. Instructors say the circuit changes every month with the aim of giving you a full body workout. You can follow Kanye’s advice and push harder, faster, stronger if you’re super fit (and a show-off) or you can take things at a slower pace. Thankfully, the instructors are very encouraging.

How easily did it fit into your timetable? Fairly well. You can drop in anytime on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6am to 9am, and then 5:30pm to 8pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Difficulty rating: 8/10. It is a fast, intense workout, especially if you’re not used to exercising regularly. No pain, no gain.

Would you do it again? Yes, but in the evenings after work (and avoid that early start!).
Vineetha Menon. Dhs450 for 12 sessions, Dhs50 for a single session (45 minutes each; breakfast included), Dubai Marina Yacht Club,, (056 762 7064).

Body Pump at Apollo Fitness

What happened? I found this to be not only a fun and upbeat hour-long class, but pretty damn challenging. The instructor, Davina, is lively and in great shape (would you hire a personal trainer who is out of shape?) and has that nice combination of making everyone feel involved but inspired and motivated in equal measure. Refreshingly, I found myself working muscles that usually get ignored in other classes, as well as variations to some of the more common routines. The plank exercises (for the abdominal area) had a slight twist to its common form, proving that the instructor has the initiative to keep the classes fresh. The beauty of it is that you can vary your weights accordingly and the key is to keep adding that tiny bit extra each session.

How easily did it fit into your timetable? As the gym is right next to the populous working area of Media City/Knowledge Village, it’s minutes from work. Plus, people can go after half an hour – so that option is there if you’re in a rush back to the office (although you’ll have to get past Davina).

Difficulty rating: 7/10: I felt the burn.
Would you do it again? Absolutely. Although after a few lunges, swings, curls and all sorts, an hour class will initially leave you broken, after a few visits and some fair commitment, you’ll reap the benefits and no doubt, have a stronger, more toned body.
Vinny Maddage. Dhs45 for body pump (Dhs62.50 for a half-hour Muay Thai class), Apollo Fitness, Ground Floor, Block 19, Knowledge Village, (04 429 8744).

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