Urban Playground: Dubai eco-friendly sports centre with solar roof and pickleball opens

The centre in Motor City also offers cricket, baseball and tennis courts, as well as 30-minute HIST sessions

There’s something very cool about Urban Playground. It could be its location (on the rooftop of the Apex Atrium Building in Motor City) or the fact that said rooftop is made up of solar panels harnessing the Sun’s energy to feed power directly into the facility’s Dewa grid.

Eco-friendly efforts aside, the 20,000-square-foot arena also offers more than a dozen sports and fitness activities aimed, says founder Kunal Dhamecha, “at active people, be they novices or professionals”.

There's a section called MyPrivateGym, which is accommodating of time-short fitness seekers or, as Dhamecha puts it, “those who hate going to the gym”.

Trainers are on hand for HIST sessions, for example. High Intensity Stimulus Training is a type of resistance workout that requires two 30-minute sessions per week to see results. Each exercise is performed super-slow and controlled until momentary muscle failure is achieved. “We lose muscle as we age, and it becomes even more important to keep the body’s muscle-fat ratio in check,” says Dhamecha. “Here we follow the principles of Dr Doug McGuff [an expert in high intensity training] of lifting weights at a very slow pace to enhance muscle growth.”

MyPrivateGym also has a recovery room that uses red light therapy, which is proven to accelerate recovery time, relieve pain and inflammation, promote better sleep and reduce stress hormones – all in a matter of 10 minutes.

All types of tennis

Urban Playground has introduced spec tennis to the UAE. Photo: Pawan Singh / The National

Improve your game with a spot of touchtennis, a modified version of the sport ideal for beginners, which is played on a smaller court with 21-inch racquets rackets and foam balls.

The fast-paced pickleball is another modified game of tennis with long rallies that are best suited to a doubles game, although, Dhamecha says, “singles is also fun to play for those looking for more of a challenge”.

Platform tennis combines tennis and squash, using a paddle instead of a racquet and a sponge ball. The rules are the same as tennis, except the ball can be played off of the back or side walls after its first strike within the court.

Finally, Urban Playground has brought spec tennis to the UAE, a quick, high-energy paddle game played using a Wilson Orange Dot tennis ball on a pickleball court, which measures 9 metres by 18 metres.

Bat and ball

360ball is played in a circular court. Photo: Pawan Singh / The National

Cricket fans can practise their batting game at the facility’s nets, which are equipped with a bowling machine that can deliver fast balls at up to 152 kilometres per hour, as well as spin, swing and pace balls, and a random variation setting. If you’d rather play with a group – small or big – Urban Playground also has a ballpark cricket court for between two and 16 players.

If baseball is more your thing, you can work on your swing and simulate a real baseball fast ball in the hitting cages at Urban Playground, and even compete with friends and family in side-by-side cages. The facility provides safety gear and bats, while the staff assist with ball collection and feeding.

For a ball sport that’s a bit more offbeat, try your hand at 360ball. Played with a rubber ball on a circular court, this is a blend of spike ball and squash for two players or two teams of players. The aim is to smash the ball into a centrally placed concave disc, forcing your opponents to run after it and do the same.

Group fitness classes

Mainstream and offbeat sports aside, Urban Playground has an indoor and outdoor gym as well as studio spaces that host group sessions such as HIIT, Boxfit, circuit training, yoga and Pilates, plus dance sessions conducted by Step Up Academy, which is also owned by Dhamecha.

More information is available at urbanplayground.ae

Updated: December 22nd 2021, 4:18 AM