Eight unique ways to liven up your fitness routine in the UAE

Something completely different might be the key to sticking to your New Year’s resolutions

Doing core exercises while balancing on water is a great way to get fit while still having fun. Courtesy Float DXB
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It always starts so well: after weeks of overindulgence, we eat ourselves into actually craving a detox come January. Many of us want a clean slate to help us set the year off on the right track, or even a quick fix to limit the damage the festive period wrought.

But that initial enthusiasm is almost always quick to dwindle and, come February, the all-too-familiar habits come creeping back – especially when it comes to our workouts. 

While there are those lucky few for whom going to the gym is an enjoyable experience, for many others the routine can quickly become tedious, and staying engaged and enthusiastic can be tough. But working out doesn’t have to be all about the gym.

In the UAE, there are hundreds of exercise options on offer, from the usual yoga, Pilates and body combat classes, to something a little more out there. And what better way to get fit than by trying something slightly bonkers that will almost help you to forget you're exercising? Here are eight activities that might offer some inspiration.

Take advantage of the landscape 

October 2, 2009 / Abu Dhabi / Desert sand dunes seen during the early morning from an altitude of 4000 feet in Abu Dhabi October 2, 2009.  (Sammy Dallal / The National)

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The desert sand dunes in Abu Dhabi. Sammy Dallal / The National

Getting out of the gym and working out surrounded by nature can elevate enjoyment levels, especially when those surroundings are as breathtaking as the Arabian desert. As anyone who has climbed a sand dune before will know it's hard work, and a group of people in Abu Dhabi are using the dunes to their fitness advantage. Out of the Gym's Dune Training sessions take place during the mornings in the cooler months, when trained guides take people on hikes through the sands in order to challenge and improve their fitness levels. The two-hour group treks end with a coffee, and have you back in the city before lunchtime. 

Bounce about 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - - -  August 6, 2016 --- Kids and adults young at heart leaped for joy as they jumped in a new trampoline park, Bounce Abu Dhabi, which has opened in Marina Mall. The park offered a good alternative for residents to escape the heat on Saturday, August 6, 2016.   ( DELORES JOHNSON / The National )  
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Bounce Abu Dhabi at Marina Mall. Delores Johnson / The National

While the days of joyfully bouncing on a trampoline may have been left in childhood for many, more savvy exercise buffs are taking this juvenile pastime and factoring it into their workout routine. An hour of bouncing can burn up to 1,000 calories, so it’s no wonder fitness fans have been taking over the UAE’s trampoline parks. Most of these arenas hold sessions that concentrate on the exercise aspect of this low-impact, high-intensity sport, which is the perfect way to reignite your love for being active. Try it at Bounce Trampoline Park at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi or Al Quoz in Dubai.

Climb your way to the top

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 26, 2017:  Homai Far of Iran competes during the finals of the  Boulder Bash climbing competition at Rock Republic climbing gym in the Dubai Investment Park area of Dubai on August 26, 2017. Bouldering is a form of climbing, that has no ropes, but focuses on very physical and technical problems closer to the ground and is one of the three disciplines that will be included in the 2020 Olympics. Christopher Pike / The National

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Section: News
Boulder Bash in Dubai. Christopher Pike / The National

If you want to really work every muscle in your body, rock climbing is one of the best exercises you can seek out. But if the thought of scaling the side of an actual mountain is enough to make your legs quake, don’t worry – there are plenty of less scary indoor options that have been adapted with fitness in mind. The highest climbing wall in the UAE can be found at Dorell Sports in Abu Dhabi, and a new one is due to open on Yas Island, which will become the tallest indoor climbing wall in the UAE – so it’s time to get practising. Dorell also has a branch in Dubai, or you can rock climb at the specially designed bouldering centre Rock Republic in Dubai Investment Park.

Jump around

It might look scary to the uninitiated, but the Kangoo Jumps session is designed to make exercise more accessible. The springy boots that kangoo jumpers wear are designed to limit impact on joints, offering a gentler way to work out compared to traditional running and jumping. Of course, the motion of bouncing is also way more enjoyable, and the boots have now been built into high-energy exercise classes that are a lot of fun and can burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour. Kangoo Jumps also helps reduce cellulite, promote tissue repair and improve digestion. Try the class at Kangoo Club in JLT and Mirdif, Dubai.

Find the balance 

High-intensity interval training workouts are widely regarded to be one of the most effective ways to exercise, but Float UAE make things even more intense. The big difference with its HIIT classes is that they take place on water, while you try to balance atop a specially adapted pool mat. The class involves burpees, lunges, squats, push-ups, and planks, all performed on the float, while trying to keep your core stable. The added element helps with balance and flexibility, plus gets you outdoors for your workout. Try it at Float UAE in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. 

Dance like somebody is watching 

You might think that twerking and pole dancing are restricted to music videos, but they are also happening in fitness studios around the UAE. The twerking movement is a great thigh-burner, it improves hip flexibility, and the cardio will get your heart rate up to burn about 500 calories in 60 minutes, with great music to boot. Pole dancing, meanwhile, is great if you want to build upper-body and core strength, and it improves your balance and flexibility. Try twerking at the ladies-only Ginger Dance and Arts in Abu Dhabi and Cafe de la Danse in Dubai, and pole dancing at Cobra Pole Fitness in Abu Dhabi and Pole Fit in Dubai. 

Get fairy tale fit

Yas Waterworld offers weekly mermaid fitness classes. Courtesy Yas Waterworld
Yas Waterworld offers weekly mermaid fitness classes. Courtesy Yas Waterworld

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a real-life mermaid, here is your chance to learn more. Believe it or not, mermaid fitness is now a thing, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Yes, you have to strap on a mermaid tail and swim around – but in terms of getting you fit, it’s a great workout. Not only do you get all the usual benefits of swimming, but the mermaid motion, dolphin kick and monofin techniques are a real core-toner. Try the Aqua Mermaid fitness class at Yas Waterworld.

Take the pressure off 

We all know the benefits of spin classes, but taking things underwater can help make things easier while still reaping the results. Not only does the water make peddling easier, but it also means that this is an outdoor workout that is bearable, even in the heat of summer. Exercising in water reduces your body weight by about half, meaning the exercise is kinder to the joints, muscles and tendons. Other benefits of Aqua Biking include weight loss, improved blood circulation, assistance with water retention, and helping to create a slim and toned body shape. Try it at Seatime in Abu Dhabi, and Fairmont the Palm and L’Atelier Aquafitness in Dubai.


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