When it comes to health, we spend hours in hospitals and clinics ensuring that tests and X-rays come out as we would hope for them to. What we often forget, however, is that feeling unwell can be the result of other factors including stress, the weather and even boredom.
Now that it's cooling down, we can seek wellness in so many ways across the UAE. Take a deep breath and let’s make our way into a cleaner lifestyle and future for our families.
All about the art
Creativity boosts the mind-body connection and develops skills from an early age. Art Central may be the go-to hub for all things art in the capital, but it also offers kids the opportunity to take part in some serious art workshops. They can learn everything from palette knife painting to drawing, pop art and even decoupage in a stress-free, non-competitive environment.
From Dhs950. Art Central, Al Reem Island (02 679 6795).
Dance it off
Dancing is one of the best forms of exercise, especially for kids who are so easily bored. Expressions of Dance and Drama is all about providing kids with the freedom to express themselves through performing arts. The focus is on dance, as the founder is primarily a dancer, and classes include musical theatre, modern dance, jazz and more.
Dhs1,402 (three classes, kids aged three and above). Expressions of Dance and Drama, Khalidiya Street (056 739 7721).
Art can stir little ones’ natural curiosity, and Art Beat does just that through classes and workshops for kids aged four to 13 in different activities including hieroglyphics, portraits and landscapes on canvasses, fabric painting, clay modelling, sand art and more. Little ones can also come in for freestyle sessions where they’re left to create whatever they want with the available tools. Mum and dad can join, too.
From Dhs60 (per class). Open Sun-Thu 9am-6pm; Fri-Sat 11am-7pm. Art Beat, Al Murour Road, Abu Dhabi (02 444 5135).
Do some sport
Ultimate Athletics is all about training future athletes for track and field – and they take it very seriously. Expect expert coaching from former and current international athletes from the UK, USA, South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya with a grassroots approach in each discipline through one-to-one and group sessions, strength conditioning, video feedback and more. Ultimate Tots classes are fun sessions for kids aged three to nine, while Ultimate Youth is designed for seven to 12-year-olds to take part in multi-events, sprints and middle-distance training.
Dhs65-85 (per session). Ultimate Athletics, various locations, including New York University Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island (02 628 4000).
Get to the gym
Fun, fitness and laughter, there’s no better combination for our kids. At Vogue Fitness Yas Kids, they learn to squat, hang on a bar, climb a rope and build an obstacle course. The list is endless, and they even do a fitness version of rock, paper, scissors.
From Dhs55 (drop-in). Yas Kids, Yas Marina (02 5832380).
“Hiyah” with karate
Kids’ karate is more than kicking and punching. As much as your little ones might like the sound of some Power Rangers-style training, they’re also going to learn some discipline, confidence and control while they’re at it. So, try signing them up for a martial arts class at My First Gym.
Dhs1,000 (ten classes). My First Gym, Delma Street (02 444 3560).
If your kids are mad about science, Mad Science’s sessions will challenge imagination, creativity and analytical thinking – keeping the mind in top shape. Kids aged four to 12 can take part in activities themed around a particular area of science such as electricity, magnetism, optics, biology and much more. Workshops are safe, and transport kids to a world that’s beyond reality.
Prices vary. Mad Science, American International School of Abu Dhabi, Airport Road (02 444 4333).
Live the story
If there’s a better way to inspire, educate, entertain and enthral a child’s mind other than reading, then we have yet to find it. Magrudy’s has a special section for kids. Let them pick something out to read for themselves and you’re achieving parenting goals. Just keep them away from all the toys and slime. Before you go, research the best books for your child’s age.
Magrudy’s, World Trade Centre Mall, Al Danah, Abu Dhabi (02 621 1799).
No fast food
Burgers, pizzas, fries and cake will be all that’s on the menu if that’s what you always buy. Food delivery service Kcal makes getting more wholesome foods to your doorstep an easier task. While there may be no plans designed specifically for kids, its Atyab meal plan is basically home cooking – and can be tailored to your liking.
From Dhs148 (Atyab, per day). Kcal. Visit www.kcalextra.com.
Seek some drama
Looking for a dose of drama (the healthy type, of course)? Miranda Davidson’s Introduction to Acting course is popular among UAE youngsters and offers three weeks of intensive classes in acting for film, TV and theatre. The studio also hosts scene study classes and private coaching.
Dhs1,300 (introduction to acting, three-week course, kids aged seven to 16). Miranda Davidson Studios, twofour54, Sheikh Zayed Street, Abu Dhabi (056 920 8938).
Snack on goodness
Some love veggies, some love fruits. Well, we all know how healthy they all are. Subscribe online and you’ll get a box of fruit sent to your door every week for your five-a-day. Kids will get into the habit of eating the good stuff, and mum won't have to go grocery shopping at that dreaded hypermarket section. There are also specialised, and customisable boxes, so you'll never end up with too many cucumbers.
Babies, as you have no doubt noticed, don't arrive with an instruction manual. Find your way to becoming a more positive parent at Dots&Links, where you'll find some parenting classes that can bring happy habits to your home. We particularly love Joanne Jewell’s mindful parenting courses. There's no better investment than that.
From Dhs1,800 (per person). Dots&Links, Khalidiya (02 666 0948).
Bust a move
No one can resist moving to top tunes and your child will be moving lots of different muscles and not even whine about exercise at Riya Berry’s choreography classes. Kids aged five to 16 will develop flexibility and balance while also getting a self-esteem boost, strengthening their memorisation skills and increasing social and communication abilities.
From Dhs50. Riya Berry Choreography, Al Mankhool (050 843 4363).
Do Pilates together
A new and exciting way through which you can bond with your child while encouraging them to stay fit is through classes that aren’t a total bore. New studio The PAD has partnered with Yasmin Karachiwala to bring her famous and transformative fitness brand to the region. Each weekend, The PAD holds classes for kids between the ages of eight and 12 so they can stay fit with their parents. Younger kids between the ages of one and five can also enjoy a comprehensive music and movement programme at the studio.
From Dhs110 (per class). The PAD Pilates and Dance Studio, Onyx Towers, The Greens (04 294 1745).
Doodle it your way
Alserkal Avenue’s passion for everything artistic has got us heading there for the most creative of mornings. thejamjar encourages and nurtures creativity in all its forms. We love the community art space and reckon the Young Artist Programme here is a grassroots, cultural highlight of the city. Drop the kids off here and you can even have a go at it yourself.
From Dhs1,600 (per course). thejamjar, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (04 341 7303).
Eat yourselves happy
You are what you eat. On the evidence of this afternoon, that makes us all mac ‘n’ cheese and birthday cake. If you think it’s time to reconsider the whole family's diet (we think we should), you can seek Right Bite’s professional nutrition advice. Its Balanced Mum meal plan is also a good idea so, er, you have more time for the kids, of course.
From Dhs1,200. Right Bite Main Office, Al Quoz (04 338 8763).
Help them make healthy choices
Junk food options and the lack of outdoor activity due to weather conditions in Dubai can increase kids’ risk of childhood obesity. They may need guidance to learn more about making the right choices in a fun and engaging way – in their own “language”. The Health Concierge is a new service that will help them learn how to make the healthiest choices by assigning them a specialist to work with them.
Dhs700 (per month). The Health Concierge, Gold Tower, JLT (052 625 3332).
Okay, so you’re unlikely to get kids queuing up for extra lessons. But the nurturing approach deployed by tutors and mentors at The Study Room, a KHDA training centre, is designed to keep students enthusiastic and motivated with personalised learning plans.
The Study Room, Mediterranean Building, Dubai Sports City (04 513 6620).
This will drum up some enthusiasm. Djembe drumming is more than just music, it’s a fun way to de-stress and make new friends. Kids’ drumming circles run every other Saturday in Al Quoz and full-moon sessions are a good excuse to go into the desert. Seriously, it doesn't get any more exciting than this.
Dubai Drums, Urban Tribe Studio, Al Quoz (056 7442129).
So much of a kids’ physical and mental well-being comes down to how well they’ve slept. We’re not just talking about babies who need to be rocked to sleep, either. Sleep issues such as bedwetting, grinding teeth, daytime lethargy and difficulty dropping off are often the symptom of other issues. A consultation with experts at a clinic such as the American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology can help address your concerns and get little ones back into a healthy cycle for their development and growth.
American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology, Sunset Mall, Jumeirah (04 314 1000).