We all know exercise is good for us. But it’s also a fact that us parents are among some of the most time-poor creatures on the planet. After we’ve dropped one kid to football practice, another to the swim squad and the other to street dance class, we’ve barely enough energy left to drag ourselves back to pick them all up, let alone get to the gym. It can’t all be about the kids, though. We need to make some time for ourselves, too. So Time Out Kids has done the groundwork for you and scoured the city for the most innovative, inspiring and addictive (you’ve been warned!) ways for you to kick-start the fitness routine. For life.
Dubai is a city of yogis and Pilates lovers, so finding your inner calm should be easy. Here’s our pick of the best classes…
A combination of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage, flying yoga may also be referred to as acroyoga or aerial yoga. The work in this class at Exhale Dubai is done in pairs and groups, though you don’t need to bring a partner with you. The classes on offer are only available for women, so grab some girl friends and make this a weekly tradition.
Dhs60. Days and timings vary. Exhale Dubai, JBR, www.exhaledubai.com (04 424 3777).
Grab your mat, a couple of towels and enjoy the calming studio experience at Real Pilates. Tricky moves, involving balance and strength, make for a challenging yet enjoyable class, great for all-round fitness, and not just your core (despite what you may have heard).
Dhs85 per session, Dhs375 (package of five sessions). Daily classes, timings vary. Real Pilates, Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.real-pilates.com (04 345 3228).
Held in an outdoor space, overlooking the sea, perfect for calming the mind, Noura’s Yogalates class is best described with a dreamy, breathless “wonderful”. It’s also a friendly, but small, and focused class, and you can take the challenge level as far as you like without pressure.
Dhs70 per session, Dhs500 (ten classes). Mon 7.15pm-8.15pm, Wed 6.30pm-7.30pm. Fraser Suites, Sheikh Zayed Road (050 328 9642).
Copy the kids
Why should the kids have all the fun? With so many super-cool activities that keep you fit and active, while at the same time nurturing your inner child, obtaining that beautiful body never has to feel like a chore again.
Remember the lure of the hoop as a child, swinging your hips, trying to keep the coloured plastic circle from hitting the ground? Recapture that sense of concentration with a hula-hooping class at Flowground, where you can get in shape while you play. Classes are available for beginners and intermediate, so grab your friends and have a giggle.
Dhs750 for six classes. Mon 8pm-9.15pm. Flowground, Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz (050 426 1254).
A modern-day fitness revolution is happening right here in Dubai and it’s getting the masses moving. Encouraging a strong mind, as well as a strong body, parkour, which is a movement-based discipline developed from military obstacle course training, gets you off the sofa as you try and figure out how to get up, over and around that squishy couch (or anything and everything else that gets in your way). Classes are designed to suit different levels of abilities, ages and goals – and always involve parkour fundamentals as the foundation.
Dhs120 (drop-in class) and Dhs1,100 (ten classes). Sat-Thu, timings vary. Parkour DXB, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (052 930 8709).
Take the fitness goals higher with a 60-minute, structured BOUNCE Fit class. The sessions are high-intensity, low-impact cardio workouts and will have your heart rate thumping and muscles toning in no time. It’s one of the more fun fitness classes you will enjoy and an effective one to boot. Boing!
Dhs80. Sat-Fri 7pm-8pm and 9pm-10pm. Bounce, Building 32, 4B Street, Al Quoz 1, www.bounce.ae (04 321 1400).
Learn the extreme art of wall running, a bounce-off-your-back technique running vertical walls, switching from one side to the other with maximum flexibility through interlinking wall-to-wall tricks. No idea what we’re on about? Us neither. But it sounds like a lot of fun. No previous experience is required, only a stern will and a “no guts, no glory” mind-set. What are you waiting for?
Dhs75 per class. Wed 5pm-7pm. Flip Out Dubai, Al Quoz 3, www.flipout.ae (600 567 658).
Don’t underestimate the number of calories that can be burned by some high-energy dance moves. Feel the buzz of endorphins and let the music take you to another level with these amazing classes.
Impact Centres’ Afro Beat combines afro beat moves, body-weight exercises, stretching and interval training in a fun, high-energy class suitable for ladies of all ages, sizes and dance abilities.
Dhs70 per class. Wed 7pm-8pm. Impact Dance Centre, Control Tower, 21st Floor, Motor City, www.impactcentres.com (04 361 5002).
A ballerina’s body is the definition of poise, strength and control, so choosing an exercise regime that builds such a physique definitely isn’t a bad idea. Classes at Dubai Dance Academy cater from beginners to experienced dancers, with the focus on learning technique and improving style.
Dhs100 per class (drop-in only), Dhs900 (package of ten classes). Days and timings vary. Dubai Dance Academy, Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments, Dubai Media City, www.dubaidanceacademy.com (055 362 6435).
Body Jam, by fitness giant Les Mills, is an addictive fusion of the latest dance styles to the most up-to-date music. This Fitness First class is not just for dancers – it’s for anyone who wants to let their hair down and enjoy a fun, fiery party workout.
Free (for members), Dhs100 (non-members for a full day pass, includes full gym access). Thu 6.30-7.30pm. Fitness First, Dubai Investment Park, www.uae.fitnessfirstme.com (800 348 6377).
NIA is a combination of martial arts, modern dance arts and yoga in a workout set to music. It’s so fun it barely even feels like you’re exercising, and Impact Dance Centre will have you coming back for more.
Dhs70 per class. Mon 10am-11am and Wed 7pm-8pm. Impact Dance Centre, Control Tower, Motor City, www.impactcentres.com (04 361 5002).
Pole Fitness is a fantastic way of working out every single one of your muscles using nothing but your body weight. Just watch that fat drop off in no time after classes at Pole Fit Dubai. Single class Dhs100 (Pole, Silk, Hoop and Body Flex Plus). Days and timings vary.
Pole Fit Dubai, Marina Sail Tower, Dubai Marina, www.polefitdubai.com (800 765 3348).
Developed from a fusion of dance and Pilates, Real Pilates’ Real Barre workout combines the physical rigour of the former with the principles of strength and safety associated with the latter. It’s a total body regime that strengthens, lengthens and stretches muscles from top to toe.
Dhs85 (single class), from Dhs375 (package of five sessions). Days and timings vary. Real Pilates, Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.real-pilates.com (04 345 3228).
Do your drills
If you’re looking for impressive results in a limited time, this army drill style of workout won’t let you down. If it doesn’t break you first!
The Original Fitness boot camp is ideal for those who want to get outdoors to train. The class tactically uses a combination of high-intensity interval training circuits, but also focuses on traditional exercises such as push-ups, crunches and burpees, along with running on the sand designed to get your heart rate racing and blood pumping.
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).
CrossFit describes itself as a “principle strength and conditioning programme” and its followers are keen (bordering on obsessive). Using functional movement that is high intensity and constantly varied, the idea is that you will improve your fitness far more effectively than if you spend two hours left to your own devices in the gym.
Dhs125 per session, memberships and packages available. Days and timings vary. CrossFit Sands, G01 Daytona House, Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, wwwcrossfitsands.com (04 420 7997).
TRX Suspension training
This workout system, devised especially for the Navy Seals, has the potential for immediate results in a no-pain-no-gain sort of way. Also called suspension training, it involves gravity and your own bodyweight to get muscle results. We recommend that you try it out under expert instruction at Fit Lab.
Dhs75 per class (non-members), Dhs65 (members). Days and timings vary. Fit Lab, Emirates Golf Club, Emirates Hills 2 (04 417 9850).
Join the team
Although it might seem nerve-racking, sometimes it’s great to be part of a team, all working and playing towards a common goal. Go on, get involved with one of these Dubai greats… you can do it!
Playing footie on an evening is the thing that childhood dreams are made of. But it’s not just for kids, as everyone can have a go at glory by paying and playing at Kooradome. With three indoor air-conditioned pitches and two outdoor five-a-side pitches, there’s no excuse not to sign up.
Dhs500 (eight weeks). Sun-Sat 9am-12am. Koora Dome LLC, Al Wasl Sports Club, Jaddaf, Oud Metha Road (800 56672).
Whether you are new to golf or you are wanting to sharpen up your teeing-off skills, The Els Club driving range and short game area is ready to help you putt and swing your way to fitness and fun. Then you can retire to The Big Easy once it gets too much.
Dhs100 for unlimited balls. Open daily 6.30am-9.30pm. The Els Club, Sports City (04 425 1500).
There’s a thriving netball scene in the city that involves scores of teams and hundreds of players. Whether you are a champion netball player, a play-for-fun kind of person or a complete novice to the sport, RU Active’s “Back to Netball” team has a spot for you. Drop in, pay your subs and have a go.
Dhs30 per session. Sun 8pm-9pm. Dubai Sports City, next to the Rugby Park, www.netball.ru-active.com (04 297 0035).
On your marks
If you fancy a jog that isn’t the school run, then grab your trainers and find a running club with which you can stretch those legs.
Desert Road Runners
Formerly The Dubai Road Runners, the now named Desert Road Runners is the oldest running club in the city, and is a club for athletes of all abilities. It’s a very family-friendly club, too, so children are also accommodated for.
Dhs450 (yearly membership). Days and timings vary. Al Barsha Park and Safa Park, www.desertroadrunners.com.
The Dubai Creek Striders
The Dubai Creek Striders is the largest club dedicated to long-distance pavement pounding. All levels are catered for in differently paced groups, but they do check if you can run a ten-kilometre distance at least.
Dhs10 per run. Fri 6am. Timings of other meets vary. Meet at the car park opposite the Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.dubaicreekstriders.org.
Urban Energy Run Club
This is a social and friendly club catering to runners of all levels, from beginners looking to run their first 5K or 10K to marathon runners looking to improve their time. The club offers a variety of classes all designed to support and improve running, including weekly long runs, recovery runs, spinning, runners’ yoga, strength and conditioning circuits, boxing fitness, and drills and intervals.
Dhs50 (pay as you go), Dhs550 (11 classes, three-month validity), Dhs1,400 (unlimited class package). Days and timings vary. Various locations across Dubai, www.urbanenergyfitness.com (04 330 6947).
What better way to get fit on a hot Dubai day than in the cooling water? And an aquatic-based fitness programme can be just the thing to give you that extra edge.
Ladies, water aerobics is no longer for old peoples’ homes. It’s actually a very fun way to get fit while still staying cool and collected. Plus it’s perfect for new mums with back pain or high blood pressure, as the water supports bodyweight. Try it out at Dubai Ladies Club.
Dhs60 (members) Dhs70 (non members). Days and timings vary. Dubai Ladies Club, Jumeirah Beach Road, next to Jumeirah Beach Park (04 349 9922).
With bikes that are specially designed to be water-ready, this is a great way to keep cool while working those muscles. Each class at L’Atelier Aquafitness includes a structured warm-up, time to accelerate and gentle stretching. Always remember to stretch!
Dhs155 per class. Sun-Thu 8am-8pm, Fri -Sat 9am-6pm. L’Atelier Aquafitness, Villa 677 A, Al Wasl Road (04 338 8323).
It’s not only the kids who can enjoy springing into the water, DuDive offers adult lessons in springboard and high-board diving, catering for all levels and abilities. With benefits including core muscle development, stability and improved flexibility, it’s no surprise there is lots of action by the pool.
Dhs80. Tue 6.45pm-7.45pm. DuDive, Hamdan Sports Complex, Exit 611, Emirates Road, www.dudive.com (050 526 7700).
Not for the faint-hearted but, equally, this watersport is an incredible amount of fun and an empowering one to embrace. Although these human-powered boats originated in China, the UAE has really taken dragon boating to heart. Dragon Flying Dragons is a group of disciplined amateur paddlers who meet on the water every week to test their physical limits and endurance.
Free for a month’s trial, then Dhs1,100 for annual membership. Training days and timings vary. Dubai Flying Dragons, Barasti Beach Club, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, www.dubaiflyingdragons.com (056 739 8292).
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is one of the coolest and fastest growing innovations in surfing and the girls-only SUP class with Fahrenheit Beach Sports focuses on core fitness on the board while learning technique on the water. Each session is for one hour and includes a combination of paddle fitness as well as core exercises done on the paddleboards, which are attached to a docking station floating in the bay.
Dhs100 per session, Dhs800 (ten sessions). Days and timings vary. Fahrenheit Beach Sports, Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah 1 (04 304 8161).
Exercise apps to try
Search, download, follow and track your fitness journey throughout the day.
Creates a customised fitness routine based on your feedback on the exercise challenges it sets.
Free, with chargeable add-on options. Available on Android and iOS.
Track the food you eat and the calories you burn through daily activity with this handy, 24/7 monitor.
Free. Available on Android and iOS.
Step up the motivation with a bit of competition by publically sharing and comparing your run, cycle or other exercise activity with users.
Free, with chargeable add-on options. Available on Android and iOS.
Three to try
Pick of the gyms
Sometimes you just want to find your inner warrior and hit the gym. There’s something about pumping iron and zoning out on the cross trainer that can be quite comforting. With so many gyms offering cool and funky classes, as well as Olympic-sized pools (and cute cafés serving tasty juices), there are plenty of reasons to sign up.
Perhaps one of the most notable of the gym brands, Fitness First has 23 clubs citywide, which include top-of-the-range gym equipment as well as a huge selection of classes, in particular from Les Mills, to tone the body.
Membership rates vary depending on the customised package. Sun-Thu 6am-11pm, Fri- Sat 7am-9pm. Various locations across Dubai, including Rasis Business Centre, Al Barsha 1, www.uae.fitnessfirstme.com (04 399 4985).
This gym is very popular with the sporty set in Sports City (go figure). Boasting everything from a 50-metre pool to Olympic weight training and deep freeze CRYO therapy, we can easily see why, too. The onsite café, Nathalie’s, also provides some healthy refreshments.
Dhs2,300 (pre-paid three-month membership). Open Sat-Thu 5.30am-11pm, Fri 5.30am-9pm. Fit Republik, Sports City, www.fitrepublik.com (04 556 1800).
Physique 57 is a fitness club focused on a revolutionary barre-based workout which combines cardio, strength training, stretching and recovery. The workout, which has taken New York by storm, is for ladies only and boasts that it can help you lose weight and sculpt your body in as little as eight classes. Where do we sign up!?
Dhs130 per class, Dhs1250 for ten classes. Intersection of Al Wasl and Al Safa Roads, City Walk (04 321 0577). Other location: Al Thanya Mall, Al Thanya Street, wwwphysique57.com (04 344 8757).
Over to the professionals
We grilled Dubai personal training gurus Urban Energy Fitness for their ten top tips for getting fit. And staying that way.
1. As parents, your biggest hurdle is time, so take the pressure off and think outside the box a little bit – any movement is exercise.
2. Think – and be honest – about what works for you and what you actually enjoy doing. There’s no point scheduling a run every morning at 6am if you don’t enjoy running and you hate getting up early!
3. Involve the kids. Take them for a walk or if you do enjoy running pop your little one in the buggy and take them with you.
4. Blow up balloons and bash them around the backyard. You’d be amazed how this can get your heart rate up!
5. Do squats and lunges in front of the baby while you are giving them their breakfast/lunch/dinner and do push-ups against the kitchen bench.
6. Set the microwave timer and plank on the floor while you’re waiting for your meal to heat up.
7. Acknowledge that our real lives are messy. Life happens. Focus on doing a little more or being a little bit better each day rather than having an “all or nothing” approach. Consider how that approach rarely gets you all, and more often than not, it just gets you nothing.
8. Recent experiments with “exercise minimalism” are showing that it is possible to get in great shape with minimalistic exercise plans and flexible nutritional guidelines. The key is to start with something even easier than you think you can do, and each week add a little more resistance or an extra rep or two so your body can adapt.
9. Take advantage of special offers. There is nothing worse than paying full whack for a gym membership and then never using it. Look out for trial sessions and half-price classes. For example, right now, Urban Energy is offering Dhs100 for two weeks of unlimited classes, which is the perfect way to see what kind of class would work for you.
10. Our three best time-saving exercises anyone can do at home would be alternating push-ups, squats, lunges and planks, taking the stairs two at a time and getting off your chair or sofa without using your hands.