Sport is now multi-million dirham industry, which is why so much cash is being invested to develop state-of-the-art training facilities for top athletes. From football players’ movements being tracked by GPS to biologists developing strict dietary regimes to maximise performance of track athletes, sports science has come on leaps and bounds in the past decade. This technology and knowledge has now filtered down to an accessible level, meaning that amateur sports enthusiasts can better analyse their performance and realise their physical potential.
Dubai has become a popular fair-weather retreat for professional sportsmen and women, and even in the inhospitable temperatures of summer it is still a focal point of athletic prowess thanks to its well-equipped, often high-tech training facilities. So now that the weather is forcing us to train inside, we decided to take a closer look at some of the city’s more technologically advanced training facilities, finding out how they work and how they benefit fitness, performance and general wellbeing.
VO2 Max fitness test
Sports rehab clinic Up and Running is one of the only clinics in Dubai offering formal fitness testing of athletes. This can range from a simple assessment to a fully comprehensive fitness consultation. The most popular form of testing is by way of the VO2 Max test, which uses a treadmill with safety harness to encourage athletes to push their limits. The athlete wears a mask to monitor their breathing, which is analysed by a computer. The testing relies on the incremental increase of both gradient and speed on a treadmill, and the test itself usually lasts between 10 and 12 minutes. This is followed by a flexibility test (sit and reach), and muscular fitness: curl-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups).
According to Donna Masing of Up and Running, the purpose of the test is to measure ‘the maximum capacity of an individual’s ability to transport and utilise oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual’. This is important for serious athletes because it indicates their potential. For the rest of us, VO2 Max is chance to push our physical and mental boundaries, and test our body’s limitations.
Dhs750 for a VO2 Max test; Dhs1,200 including sports medicine doctor consultation; Dhs1,500 with fitness test). Up and Running Integrated Sports Medical Centre, Villa 969, Al Wasl Road, www.upandrunningdubai.com (04 328 4600)
The high-altitude training suite
The new high-altitude suite at Madinat Jumeirah’s Quay Club (the first of its kind in the region) offers health enthusiasts maximum fitness benefits within a shorter exercise time frame using a much lower-impact form of exercise. Also referred to as hypoxic training, altitude training has a number of health benefits, including better utilisation of nutrients within muscles and tissues, faster weight loss, higher endurance (as a result of increased red blood cells), and even better concentration levels.
High-altitude training operates on the principle that as altitude increases, air pressure decreases and less oxygen is available for the human body. This leads to a greater productivity of red blood cells and therefore improved heart health. To better reap the benefits of high-altitude training, staff at the Quay Club have developed a programme that incorporates a wellness assessment followed by a daily 90-minute training session over 12 consecutive days, and two training sessions per week for a month thereafter. The facility opens towards the end of June and it’s advised to call ahead to book well in advance.
Dhs500 for private one-on-one lesson); Dhs200 for group training with six people and one instructor. Quay Club, Madinat Jumeirah (04 406 8534)
TaylorMade Performance Lab golf coaching
Even the relatively sedentary sport of golf can benefit from sophisticated technology, as proven at the TaylorMade Performance Lab at Al Badia Golf Club. Golfers are kitted out with sensory pads at the knees, waist, torso, elbows and wrists, before teeing off on a virtual green. Their swing is monitored by motion sensors and the information is processed by a computer, which creates a 3D recreation of the golfer, the swing and the trajectory of the resulting shot.
Dhs350 for a 60-minute custom fitting session (no charge when a hardware purchase is made); Dhs700 for a 60-minute MAT_T Swing Analysis. Al Badia Golf Club, Festival City, www.albadiagolfclub.ae/golf-academy (04 601 0101)