Kayaking in Dubai

Forget rowing machines, treadmills and free weights: Dubai’s newest class uses bikes, kayaks and fresh air to get you in shape

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It’s dark and foggy outside and my alarm’s bleeping angrily. I press the snooze button. All of a sudden, there it is again. ‘Just put one foot on the floor,’ I tell myself. It doesn’t go well. Fast-forward 10 minutes and I’m out of bed, wearily, at 5.30am on a Thursday morning.

I meet the guys from Goal Attained, a fairly new fitness company, at 6am on the Russian beach by Dubai Marine Beach Resort in Jumeirah. They’re already surprisingly chirpy, and offer me tea and coffee before we get started. I’m here to test the new Beach Adventure Training, a fresh exercise class that involves cycling, kayaking and running, all crammed into just an hour’s session.

The group splits into two smaller groups and, after a warm-up, my group starts by cycling along a track on the beach. The joy of cycling in the mist is definitely worth the early rise. We do laps of the track – for the first stretch, we use the lowest gear (so it feels like your feet are pedalling, but nothing’s happening, which works your legs hard without you realising it). The length back is in the highest gear so your legs really get pumped (the goal in this length is to be completely out of your seat – I was a bit wobbly, to say the least).

We do this three times, which means we’ve cycled 4.5km. Steve, the cycling instructor, is a great motivator and keeps track of everyone, whether they’re leading the pack or straggling a little. As I get off the bike my legs feel like jelly and the jog to the beach afterwards is a trial, so I’m glad to be getting into a kayak next. Bruce, the kayak man, takes the team out on the water, with two people to each boat. We start with
a warm-up paddle, followed by five individual sprints between two buoys (this allows the kayak co-pilot to take a breather). Handling the oar is a great arm workout, and if you get fast enough on the sprints you’ll be doing some serious cardio. But the best bit of the kayaking is being able to get out on the water before you even get to work – it’s hands down the best thing about this class.

I’m reluctant to get out of the water, but the class is only an hour long, so we drag our kayaks back up the beach (a workout in itself), and get down to some serious sprint work. We do sprint/jog intervals and some calf raises, as well as an arm lift exercise that gets my shoulders burning. The running is my least favourite part of the class, which highlights just how refreshing it is to take part in activities that are a bit different, and way more fun than your typical gym workout.

After a really good stretch to warm down, we’re treated to bananas and energy bars and Bruce dishes out more tea and coffee – these guys are genuinely friendly. The great thing about a multi-disciplinary class is that it gets your blood pumping and tones your muscles while also teaching you technique. Do it for a month and you’ll not only be more toned and fit, but you’ll also be a better cyclist and kayaker. Win/win we say – just be prepared to get up really early.

Goal Attained’s Beach Adventure Training starts April 1 and runs on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6am and 6.30am; 8am for ladies only. One session Dhs75; pay Dhs500 for eight or Dhs750 for 12, Dhs850 for a month’s unlimited classes. See www.GoalAttained.com for more.


A complete workout

Muscles used
Kayaking: shoulders, arms, chest and back muscles
Cycling: quads, glutes
Running: all leg muscles

You’ll also work your core muscles if you engage them properly during the activities.

Best bits: variety, getting out on the water, chance to work both arms and legs.
Downsides: getting up early, it’ll take a couple of lessons to get your technique right.

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