At gyms and fitness centres across the city, health fanatics and bulge beaters are getting up early, running, squatting and crunching their way to a leaner body to the bark of a ‘sergeant major’ instructor pushing them up that fitness mountain. Though bootcamps may not be a new thing, they’re certainly evolving, offering more choice and variety for those after a full-on experience. And so we dispatched our (not so fit) team to check out, on your behalf, some of the most gruelling workouts on offer...
Held on the floodlit athletics track at Dubai Sports City, this new bootcamp already has a decent following. Aimed at all levels of fitness, you don’t need to be super fit to get through the stations. The class is led by former rugby pro Brendan Rawlings and uses techniques and exercises that players would do, such as box squats, which help develop strength in the quads and hamstrings. On our visit the class was busy and active. Brendan is very positive and will come around each of the stations to give guidance on posture and technique as you carry out the exercises. The session ends with a ‘finisher’ that involves repeating three cardio exercises continuously for five minutes. If you weren’t already lagging, this makes sure you burn any excess energy.
Dhs80 per class or Dhs700 per month. Mon, Wed, Sat 7pm. Sports City Athletics Track, Dubai Sports City, www.b2bfitnessdubai.com (056 146 1750).
Lead by Phil Beatie, a former British Royal Marine commando, this bootcamp brings military discipline and techniques to civvies who want to push themselves beyond their limits. This class is tough – most of the attendees were puffing and panting after the warm-up, which was a mile-long run. Some of the regulars run with weighted vests, carrying five pounds of weight on their chests, but Phil is very aware of individual abilities, and only shouts positive encouragements and instructions rather than put-downs. Back inside the gym, he leads us through a tough circuit session that involves sit-ups with medicine balls, punching with weights, rowing and ‘hill climbers’. Once the circuit is completed we head out for another run. By the end of the hour we had run two miles and sweated buckets, but there’s a strong sense of camaraderie in the camp as we all do a group plank to finish the session.
Dhs100 for non-members, Dhs60 for members per session. Sun, Tue, Thu 7am and 7pm, Fri 9am. Warehouse Gym, Umm Suqeim Road, Al Quoz, www.whgym.com (04 323 2323).
This bootcamp describes itself as a ‘military-style’ exercise class and is focused on improving fitness and strength. The class takes place in JLT, beginning on a small patch of grass outside the club, before moving on to running around the promenade area. Activities include intervals of running, sprinting, push-ups and a little knee-slapping and shoulder-slapping sparring games (our knees still haven’t quite recovered from the former). A moderate to medium level of fitness is probably required for this class, and while it is to some extent gruelling due to the quick bursts of inter-changing activities, the direction is assertive but not aggressive. There is certainly also a positive group ambience – some regular participants are helpful in explaining what’s going on to newbies.
Dhs100 (for a day pass). Packages available on request. Sun and Tue 7pm-8pm. Fidelity Fitness, Almas Tower, JLT (04 451 1133).
This one-hour bootcamp comprises a mixture of tabata-style training (20 seconds of hard training followed by ten seconds of rest, repeated eight times) with high intensity exercises. The class is led by Barrie, a Scottish ex-army physical training instructor, who demonstrates the exercises throughout, offering positive encouragement in a more approachable manner than, say, Sergeant Emil Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman.
While the bootcamp is by no means a walk in the park – think sprints, squats, push-ups, crunches and a whole lot of sweating – it’s one of the more enjoyable ones out there. Catering to all fitness levels, there is generally a level of friendly camaraderie among the attendees, who egg you on throughout. Taking place along the waterfront of Dubai Marina, just below TribeFit’s gym, the sea breeze is a welcoming factor at times.
Free for members. Dhs100 for a day pass, which includes access to all facilities and group exercise classes. TribeFit (meeting point outside the gym on lower promenade level next to Carrefour). Silverene Tower, Dubai Marina, www.tribefit.com (800 87423).
FAST Strength and Conditioning
This bootcamp will get you doing things that you didn’t think you could do. After warming up and stretching, this circuit-based class gets started with a small but tough routine that includes pushing a prowler loaded with 80kg weights, flipping a 70kg truck tyre, and carrying weights above your head. The class is kept to a maximum of six participants so the instructor can keep an eye on technique, coach effectively and ensure you get the most out of the session. This class works all muscle areas and really gets the heart pumping. The circuit is repeated with shorter rest periods, and even newbies are able to lift and flip the tyres through the session. The class ends with a prowler-push sprint in two teams, to add a bit competitiveness and kill off any spare energy you may have in your legs. To the uninitiated, it looks intimidating, but all fitness abilities and body types can take this on.
Dhs90 per class, Dhs800 for 10 classes or Dhs1,400 for 20. Sun 8pm, Mon 7pm, Tue 8pm, Wed 8pm. FAST Performance Center, Sheikh Zayed Road, City Tower 2 Car Park, 6th Floor rooftop, www.trainwithfast.com (04 355 5181).
While the majority of bootcampers here are enrolled in the intensive six-week Fight Camp programme, anyone can step up to this class. The session involves high-intensity interval training focused on cardio and muscle conditioning. Aussie owner John Pender’s style is encouraging (with more punishment driven methods for the lagging males of the group) and he’ll make you work for results. It includes a mountain climber drill before we move into lateral squat walks mixed up with a series of short sprints. We find the repetitive single-leg hops up the ramp of an underground car park particularly gruelling. It ends in the gym with jumps, push-ups and sit-ups. Our only criticism is there’s no warm down and our thighs hurt for days after.
Dhs80 per class, Dhs1,500 for the six-week Fight Camp package. Suites 9 and 10, The Curve Building, Al Quoz 3 (04 380 5955).
Military Fitness Camp at Ignite
The high-intensity camps offer one-month packages that promise to whip you into shape through a variety of drills and exercises. Trainers are notoriously tough, but maintain a positive and motivational vibe throughout. Exercises include everything from sprints to long-distance, running with sandbags and tyres, kettlebell and dumbbell work, as well as jumping over hurdles and boxing sessions. They occasionally hold sessions at Riva Beach Club using paddleboards to mix things up.
Dhs800 for four weeks of four sessions per week, Dhs100 for a single session. Various locations including Palm Jumeirah, Safa Park, Dubai Marina and The Springs, www.ignite-wellness.com (04 456 2482).
This bootcamp is aimed at anyone, with exercises that can be adapted to all levels. On our visit, we joined about 30 other gluttons for punishment. After a warm up it was time for the serious stuff with burpees, press-ups, planks and leg raises, with a resting time of just 30 seconds between each exercise. Splitting into male and female groups, we then completed eight rounds of a boxing-inspired practice with each round getting faster as our weary legs got slower. Despite being fairly tough, this bootcamp doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instructors are great, barking out motivational directions and humorous one-liners, and dishing out water when needed.
Free. Mon, Wed, Sat 9am and 7.30pm. Behind the ICC, Dubai Sports City. www.fitrepublik.com (052 7424 555).
The Beach Workout
This bootcamp is ideal for those who want to train outdoors. The class uses a combination of high-intensity interval training circuits, but also focuses on traditional exercises such as push-ups, crunches and burpees. On the morning we visited the class was small but included a variety of fitness levels. Running on the sand is challenging, but with enthusiasm from the instructor you leave feeling great.
Dhs75 per session. First trial session is free. Sun, Tue, Thu 6am, Fri 7am. The Beach, JBR, on the lawn next to open air cinema, www.originalfitnessco.com (04 311 6571).
Elite Aesthetics Dubai
Taking place at SkyDive Dubai, this bootcamp incorporates a whole range of equipment and exercises, from obstacle challenges to pushing 4x4s. Strictly for morning people, sessions take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, meeting at
5.50am for a 6am start.
Dubai Marina, www.facebook.com/eliteaestheticsdubai