Get fit on the beach

We try Dubai's first beach gym

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There’s nothing exciting about the prospect of tumbling out of bed to pound the treadmill in your apartment block’s grey, box-like gym, watching MTV on mute playing the same six videos on rotation. This is where The Shack, a new gym on Umm Suqeim’s Kite Beach, steps in to make working out interesting again. Here, you can stare at the sea while you do your sit-ups, hop on one of the outdoor bikes, or combine your traditional gym workout with some resistance running in the sand and sea.

Describing itself as a community project, the facility has been created as a result of sponsorship and donations from a wide range of sports brands, including Life Fitness, Isostar and Crocs, all of whom have provided either equipment or funds in order to help British founder Bruce King, 41, get set up. With much of the gym funded by donations, it allows the management to charge much less than average for people to use the facilities. And here’s the real deal clincher: there’s no six-month sign-up contract and no registration fees – just a Dhs35 drop-in fee that allows you full access to all the gym equipment and any of the numerous classes taking place.

Candice Fanucci (aka Candy), who heads the gym’s surf-rescue programme, explains that given the financial climate, she believes people are even more reluctant to commit thousands of dirhams to gym memberships, so the drop-in system acts as a better incentive. Though The Shack has only been open a few weeks, Candy has already been inundated with requests to open the gym earlier in the morning, and has since changed the opening time from 6am to 5am. ‘It’s crazy!’ she laughs as we walk around the premise one blustery December morning.

At the moment, The Shack offers a variety of classes including yoga, martial arts, spinning, boot camp-style workouts and Brazilian capoeira, and by January will be running more than 90 classes each week. Open every day, there is always a trainer on hand to dish out advice and make sure you’re doing your exercises properly.

And the community aspect doesn’t end there. Candy explains that obesity and diabetes are two of the biggest health issues in Dubai, so the gym also aims to educate people on the importance of regular exercise and good nutrition, offering free classes for local women and children. So keen are they to help kids get active, their minimum age for kids’ classes is four years old, and they’re expecting a donation of mini treadmills for eight-to 13-year-olds.

The Shack will soon be running monthly competitions and fitness challenges, plus a range of tournaments on the beach, from rugby to volleyball; from January there will even be a qualified professional on site to dole out free nutrition advice to those who want it. Workouts just got a lot more fun…
Dhs35 drop-in fee. Open Sun-Thu 5am-11am, 4pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 8am-6pm. The Shack, Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim (056 693 9258)

Alternative gyms to try

Platform 3
This gym features a boxing ring, climbing wall, sports therapy room and even live DJ sets. The facilities focus on fitness, nutrition and sports therapy, based around one-on-one personal training. There’s no lengthy sign-up – you can buy a single class for Dhs300, or up to 50 classes for Dhs12,500. There are also packages for golfers, and pre- and post-natal ladies.
Park Island, Dubai Marina (04 435 8083).

U Energy
A new workout spot in DIFC, U Energy is suitably swanky. Like P3, it also boasts its own in-house DJ, and has apparently been mistaken for a bar on more than one occasion. It’s state-of-the-art in here, with a free weight area, UFC cage and skiing machines. Packages start from Dhs4,000 for three months.
Building 4, Gate Village, DIFC (055 919 6666).

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