Get fit for free

Remember the days when staying healthy didn't require expensive gym membership? Shape up in an old school way with these free fitness tips

Open Beach

Best for: Running, walking, cycling
Somewhere among all Dubai’s sky high buildings and glitzy hotels, pavements and walkways were somewhat sidelined. ‘Dubai forgot about humans when it was built,’ a grumbling resident once said to Time Out, in the hope that we’d suddenly magic an urban sprawl. So, it’s a joyous day when a strip of path is thrown our way, especially when it’s stationed on Jumeirah’s Open Beach – a place where activity is rife and sunsets aplenty.

This springy 3km track is perfect for a late night stroll, a weekend cycle, training for the marathon or even a brisk roller skate. Time Out ambled down there at 6pm for a jog and was met with a balmy breeze, beaming smiles and a cacophony of giddy children. Squint a little and it could be the set of The OC.

Hobby Horse

Best for: Horse riding
Go: Call 050 7740566
Hidden in the depths of Al Awir is a stable that shuns jodhpurs, hoity folk and focuses its entire energy on its stable of horses. There’s no pretension, stables are ramshackle and it’s not one for those used to the pristine walls of Arabian Ranches, but for a mere Dhs70 for an hour, Mohammed (he won’t give his second name), the manager and his crew will take you into the heart of the Arabian Desert and give you a serious workout. If you’re a beginner, fear not, the Hobby Horse contingent will take you through the a-z of equestrianism (‘You must ride in the ring ten times before going to the desert,’ Mohammed says) before hitting the gallops. All in all it’s a great workout for a sniff of the competitor’s price.

Safa Park

Best for: Running, walking
Go: 04 349 2111
If it’s a serious slog you’re after, then Safa Park is your patch. The outside running track (all 3.4km of it) is a firm favourite with marathon runners and fitness fanatics alike and, unlike the Open Beach, offers lighting when the sun goes down. For anyone who likes a spot of foliage, just pay a mere Dhs5 and you’ll have access to grass, trees and flora. There’s even the odd water feature, ice cream vendor and kiddies play- ground to break things up a bit. But if you’re sticking to the running track, pick your time well, it all gets a bit congested between 6-8pm in the weekday and noone likes running alongside a stampede of Lycra clad keen beans.

Mall of the Emirates

Best for: Running, walking
Go: 04 409 9000
If the thought of braving the great outdoors is just too much and you want to kill two birds with one stone (shop and exercise), then Stride for Life is at your service. The group of mall walkers meet at 8.30am at Mall of the Emirates every weekday and is perfect for anyone who wants to stretch their pins before work. ‘Some people come here and then go off to work,’ says Lucy Shutes, leader of Dubai’s Stride for Life walking group. ‘It takes 30 minutes and that’s sometimes all people can find the time for – they feel uplifted, they grab a coffee and then they’re off.’ The best part? It’s entirely free, which means you can splurge on a nice pair of shoes afterwards.

Burj Al Arab

Best for: Swimming
Go: 04 345 8177
Londoners may be able to walk around Buckingham Palace, while New Yorkers have Central Park, but in Dubai, it’s all about swimming around the Burj Al Arab. While the 1km swim is not exactly an Olympic distance, you can do a couple of laps to burn the calories and that’s not to mention the unrivalled views of the Arabian Gulf. If you fancy splashing for charity November 14 is the annual Swim Around the Burj event to raise money for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) – an organisation that helps out countries in time of crisis. The event usually pulls in more than 500 people and is a sure way to grab a load of Dubai’s sun, sea and sand.

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