Body Art in Dubai

Dubai's latest fitness trend will leave you energised and refreshed

‘You have to relax your mind. It’s not that I’m stronger than you… It’s just, my mind is at home watching TV. Relax,’ says Alex, the lead instructor of our Body Art session, as we wobble and waver our way through holding each pose.

The name of the class might be somewhat deceptive – it sounds more paintbrushes than push-ups – but this new fitness trend from Germany has found its way to Dubai and is exclusive to Gold’s Gyms across the city. Body Art has its roots in the Chinese philosophies of Yin and Yang and the five elements. This translates into a fitness class that offers a full body workout based on opposites – activity and rest, tension and release.

Steven Pitkin, group exercise manager at Gold’s Gym, Ibn Battuta Gate, has been trying out the class and is responsible for promoting it to the gym’s members. He says part of the appeal of Body Art is that it offers something for everyone. ‘Everyone seems to do the same thing in Dubai, regardless of whether they go to a competitor to train. You often see the same classes and timetables. But Body Art brings a fresh element to Gold’s Gym. It’s not necessarily about following the music, which is really important to understand. A lot of people say they don’t have rhythm or coordination, but this isn’t about sticking to the beat and following the crowd. You can do it at your own pace’.

Body Art uses fitness elements from a wide spectrum of physical and mental activities, such as dance, yoga, tai-chi and Pilates, and fuses them with explosive movement, strength and conditioning, making it appeal to a wide variety of people.

The class starts quite slow with gentle movements and stretches to limber us up. Alex guides us with our breathing, which is a key part of the class. He says we should breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, which has a calming effect as we prepare and follow our own pattern to help maintain our focus on the rhythm of the movement.

The music is quite upbeat and the mid-section is full of energy. We graduate from stretching to excitedly dancing, jumping up then slamming our hands on the floor, and holding poses. Alex is tall and lithe yet muscular and he makes the moves look easy. In one exercise we are stretched out in a push-up like position and have to slowly bring one leg to the front of the body. Alex makes it look like a walk in park, but you can hear the groans as we attempt it with little grace. It’s a challenging session and the instructors offer easy and difficult options to suit the various abilities of the class.

Those familiar with yoga, tai chi or Pilates will be familiar with some of the movements, such as downward dog and the bow pose, but Body Art adds elements of dynamic movement that transform the postures into harder exercises that will appeal to those who tend to like their fitness classes with high energy. As we perform the movements, our instructors offer guidance on posture and come around to check on us, correcting our positioning. It certainly offers a full workout to athletes who would normally stay away from anything related to yoga or dance.

The hour-long session ends with a tranquil meditative stretch with the lights dimmed and the music changed to ambient pan pipe sounds. We leave the class feeling energised and like we’ve had a complete workout of the body and mind.
Free for members. Non-members can get a free day pass to trial the class. Wed 11am and 6.45pm (subject to change). Gold’s Gym, Ibn Battuta Gate, www.goldsgym.ae (04 277 5465).

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