Easing into a fitness regime with the help of a hammock

As I have found out, entering the daunting world of working out sometimes requires a push

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , SEP 21  ��� 2017 : - Students learning Anti Gravity Yoga from Pem Fassa , Yoga instructor  ( right ) during the class at the YogaOne Studio in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) Story by Anna Marie McQueen

wear athletic leggings frequently, and the trunk of my car is home to two colourful yoga mats. Yet, while I'll sign up for the occasional sunset yoga session and have attempted classes that incorporate Pilates Reformer machines, I'm somewhat of a fraud in that I've never really committed to a regular fitness regime.

To me, it all looks rather intimidating: the breadth of workout tutorials and body transformations on social media, although intended to be inspiring, can be the opposite – a reminder that getting in shape takes zealous commitment and a strict routine, if you want to see any results.

Not to mention the fact that it takes preparation, starting with your outfit: you can’t just show up to a class in an oversized T-shirt you sometimes sleep in when the rest of the group is fitted out in sleek leggings and designer sports bras.

So, while I'm signed up with GuavaPass, a fitness class pass service available in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I have yet to really experience Dubai's many gyms and studios partnered with the service – not out of laziness I assure you, but just an overall trepidation about workout classes and anything gym-related.   

My sister however, convinces me to go to a class with her. It incorporates hammocks and I’m intrigued, asking myself, how intense can it be? I blissfully imagine lying in a hammock, with soothing music in the background, and perhaps a few stretches.

I pull on my seamless LNDR leggings from new activewear boutique Hautletic and drive to Dubai Marina. I leave my car with the valet (yes, even fitness studios come equipped with valet parking options in Dubai) and at 5pm, enter the studio.

The workout room is lined with green yoga mats on the floor and grey hammocks suspended from the industrial ceiling.

There’s a blue block, silver stability ball and pair of black weights next to each mat.

We start stretching and rolling our necks from side to side, our instructor Stephanie says this helps release our bodies of the effects of the long days we’ve all just endured.

The hammock in fact, does not come into play until the last part of the class.

After a series of stretches and strenuous yoga poses, we boost ourselves onto the hammocks and then swing backwards, locking our feet around the drapes so that we’re hanging upside down, our hands touching the floor.

As the blood rushes to my head, my legs tightly wrapped around the suspended cloths, and my muscles start to throb from the earlier contortions I have forced my body into, I think to myself, ‘this is not what I had in mind’. But laying there, I’m already planning ahead to next week, hoping to fit the class into my schedule again on Wednesday.

As my class comes to a close, we're invited to cocoon ourselves in our hammocks, and for a few moments, clear our minds, switch off, and contemplate whether we've accomplished our goals over the past hour.

It’s a nice, peaceful reward for the 50-minute workout we’ve just gone through, and I could have stayed in that comfortable cocoon for an hour, if not for the lights being switched on and next batch of students spilling into the room.

The air in Dubai is currently thick with enthusiasm for exercise, thanks to the ongoing Dubai Fitness Challenge. And as I have found out, entering the daunting world of working out sometimes requires a push.

The next morning my abs are so sore I have to literally roll out of bed and moving about proves a challenge. But, while this could be a deterrent to some my aching muscles are a reminder of what I achieved the day before.

I’ve come to the conclusion that fitness isn’t just about tangible results and changes you see in the mirror – the weight loss, the hunky six-pack or the beach body – it is also about reflection, self-awareness, balance and nurturing your body.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting back into a regime, just do it!

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