This week we’re celebrating all things cocoa-related. And why not? The stuff is delicious. In fact, it’s also packed with antioxidants called flavanoids, which help to combat the body’s ageing process, relax your blood pressure and balance hormones. That, however, is almost null and void when you eat milk chocolate (the milk makes it hard for the body to absorb the goodness) and, while pure dark chocolate helps your heart, any sugary additives do nothing but harm.
The average chocolate bar contains about 200 calories: depending on your weight, that will account for 10 to 20 per cent of your recommended daily calorie intake, leaving no space for less sugary, fatty foods. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t want to rob you of your afternoon Twix, but why not neutralise those calories by working them off? Here’s how.
Peanut M&Ms (49.3g)
255 calories = 30 minutes of hip-hop dancing
Why do it? As far as dance styles go, hip hop requires serious full-body movement, with the strong ‘pop and lock’ moves engaging the muscles. There’s a new ‘Nu Style’ class in town – with locally based B-boy and 14-year dance veteran Tommee Riddim (we presume this isn’t his real name) at the helm, it’s guaranteed to be authentic.
Try it at: Core Studio, Dubai Marina every Saturday night from 7.30pm. Each class is Dhs60. www.corestudiome.com
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (51g)
260 calories = 30 minutes of jogging at 8kph
Why do it? Because jogging is free, you can do it whenever you want, it’s results-oriented, it builds muscle and cardio fitness and it’s a great way to clear the head after a long day in the office.
Try it at: Safa Park in Jumeirah – at 8kph you’ll be able to comfortably jog Safa’s 3.3km track in 30 minutes. The spongy track is particularly good for those of you who are interested in starting out with barefoot running.
270 calories = 30 minutes of Bikram yoga
Why do it? Bikram involves a series of slow postures performed in a room heated to 40°C (akin to doing yoga in a car park in August). It’s said to torch your muscles and completely flush the body of toxins – just make sure to keep your fluid intake up before and after the class to avoid dehydration. Warning: the first few sessions are torturous and you’ll ache all over.
Try it at: Club Stretch, Al Mina Road, Satwa. Sessions start from Dhs70 for 90 minutes. There are also plenty of multi-class package deals available. (04 345 2131)
Twix bar (58g)
289 calories = a two-hour leisurely horse ride
Why do it? Trotting along on a horse is a therapeutic experience, allowing you to learn to read the animal. Mushrif Equestrian Centre holds regular night and day rides in the desert area of Mushrif Park, and afterwards you’ll feel strain in muscles you didn’t even know existed (mostly around the ‘seat’ area).
Try it at: Mushrif Equestrian & Polo Club, Mirdif. The 90-minute desert park hacks, held during the day or night, cost Dhs300. (04 257 1256)
Nutella snack (15g)
70 calories = 30 minutes of vacuuming
Why do it? Because your house is messy… No, seriously, you save a lot of money by working out while cleaning. The average price of a cleaning service in Dubai is about Dhs25 per hour, and the average minimum time spent cleaning a two-bed apartment is four hours, so a year’s vacuuming costs you Dhs5,200. Add to that the average cost of a workout class, at Dhs50 a pop, so two classes a year costs Dhs5,200. By these maths, hoovering your own crumbs saves you a cool Dhs10,000 a year.
Try it at: A home near you.
Lindt Excellence Cocoa bar (100g)
486 calories = 30 minutes of ViPR training
Why do it? This new functional training craze uses what is essentially a large rubber cylinder with a few holes in it for grip. Yet in its simplicity lies brilliance. Weighing between 4kg and 20kg, moving the ViPR allows for multiple planes of movement and engages your whole body, working several muscle groups at once. Jerky, one-motion weights are so passé.
Try it at: JBR Open Beach on Sundays and Tuesdays at 6.30am, and Mondays and Wednesdays at 6.30pm; or at The Lakes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm. FXT Fitness runs five-week courses of two 30-minute training sessions a week (the next starting on May 15), but they also offer free trial sessions. www.fxt-fitness.com
Can chocolate really help you lose weight?
The diet industry is big business, and in the interests of marketing there have been many fad diets introduced over the past few years that involve chocolate. Think ‘The Chocolate Diet’, or even ‘The Chocolate, Popcorn and Pasta Diet’ (now we’re talking). While the former claims that dark chocolate and chocolate supplements actually speed up the metabolism, these claims are unfounded. The latter just has you eating a lot less, which, even if you ate pure lard, would lead to weight loss. So no, chocolate doesn’t make you skinny. Sorry.