Surf Dubai

We sign up to get fit surf-style. Banish bootcamp and dive in

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Ramadan is behind us. Summer is beginning to fade. As we emerge from hibernation, from our caves of omnipresent air con, it’s common to feel out of shape. Being resigned to our chilly abodes with a stack of mind-numbing, time-evaporating TV boxsets throughout summer has the tendency to KO your get-up-and-go.

The answer for many: a bootcamp. To launch us from our sofa slump and back into action, we employ the talents of a burly shouty type – an individual far less flabby than ourselves – to bully us back into fitness. This is fine. We will do army-style drills, carry gun-shaped batons and drop and give this whipless ringleader 50.

Alas, we’ve just never been into all that. Bootcamps have their place in Dubai’s fitness landscape, but the concept (inextricable, in our minds, from memories of belligerent gym teachers hurling ‘motivational’ abuse during school) has always made us a bit queasy. That’s why, when we heard about Surf Dubai’s forthcoming Surf Fit programme, it sounded like a nicer option.

Yes, nice and characteristically Aussie – get fit through surf-oriented exercises. Learn to save your unbuoyant buddies from drowning, get adept at riding waves and carve a marvellous surfer’s tone into that summer-softened stomach without a single foam uzi in sight.

It was with this optimistic spirit that we headed to Sunset Beach in Umm Suqeim to meet three of the trainers from Surf Dubai: Scott Chambers, Daniel Van Doreen and Jason Smith. These three head up the company’s surf school, which also kicks off again this month, and have tailored a fitness programme geared towards becoming stronger both on and off the board.

Classes start at the formidable time of 6.30am throughout this twice-a-week, month-long course. After an initial warm-up jog across the beach, with one or two front drops onto the sand, we move swiftly into surf-specific stretching. Focusing on core fitness, a calibration between upper and lower body strength that surfers rely on, the stretching part of the lesson is particularly crucial to what the classes are trying to achieve.

At the side of us are plastic boards balanced on a pipe, used to simulate the unstable mechanics of riding a wave. Admittedly, this is a little beyond our grasp just yet. While we’re assured that complete beginners will be riding the pipe adeptly in no time, we’re stuck in a precarious semi-wobble holding on to Van Doreen like a nervous pensioner and constantly sliding off. The idea behind the pipe and board exercises, nonetheless, is good – while maintaining balance, the group then do gentle squats which work on core fitness and also make us more familiar with holding this unnatural squat surfing position on an unstable plane.

After that it’s down to the water and we paddle on the board to a string of buoys just offshore. Again, this is good practice for anyone keen to learn how to surf, as paddling (particularly in less-than-Bondi Dubai) is something surfers do a great deal of while waiting for or chasing a wave. We go at quite a clip, so it’s particularly demanding on our underworked arms.

Other aspects of the training include learning basic rescue techniques, and sprints along the beach followed by a speedy swim out to the buoys and back again. What really defines the programme that Surf Dubai has put together is the easy-going atmosphere of the sessions. Although they’re encouraging, it’s nowhere near the relentless sergeant major of our imagination. This is tough, rewarding and a surprisingly fun workout for anyone with even a hint of desire to get into surfing.
Surf Fit begins on October 5. Dhs1,200 for two lessons a week, an hour each, for four weeks. For more info call Jason on 050 459 2672. Go to www.surfingdubai.com.

Other quick fit solutions

Box Fit
Never has the adage ‘no pain, no gain’ been truer than Physical Advantage’s Box Fit workout. Nor has any other exercise session taken us four (yes, that’s four) days to recover from. Still, if it’s an intensive workout your after, this is a good option, combining boxing skills with bootcamp-esque motivation.
Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm, The Shoreline Apartments Beachfront, Azrak Clubhouse Beach. Dhs100 for one session, Dhs600 for eight. www.physicaladvantage.ae.

Fitness O2
There are a couple of interesting new programmes for the season. Stretch Out is a combination of Pilates and yoga that focuses on improving flexibility and can be applied to all sports (starts October 3, 7pm every Saturday, Dhs350 for four sessions). Re-Fit is also a good solution for getting back on track after summer. It’s aimed at those who have been injured and want to return to fitness – and those who have slacked off recently and need to reboot (starts October 11, 7.30pm in Safa Park, Mondays and Wednesdays, Dhs650 for eight sessions).
For more info call 04 395 2922 or see www.fitness02.com.

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