Jumeirah Beach Hotel reopened after its five-month refurbishment over a year ago now, but its fancy new fitness offering has had a much longer incubation process.
The J Club is the hotel's brand-new wellness club, though to label it as such seems to somewhat underplay it. There is a gym, sure, but there's also several indoor studios, an upcoming outdoor gym, a lap pool, tennis and squash courts, state-of-the-art body scanning machines, a "holistic" approach to training – and a hefty price tag to go with it.
Memberships start from Dh2,750 per month (working out at Dh33,000 per year) for the basic membership for new members, Dh3,750 for couples and Dh5,500 for families (two adults plus children).
However, that's not exactly out of the realms of the ordinary in Dubai. Symmetry Gym in Dubai’s Gold and Diamond Park offers “the most expensive and intensive 28 days of fitness in the UAE” at Dh36,000. Ultimate Performance in DIFC offers 12-week sessions from Dh16,560. Embody Fitness offers each member a full team, including a nutritional adviser, sports therapist and personal trainer, and session rates that start from Dh450 per hour.
The J Club is the result of Jumeirah carving off its gym and fitness programmes from under its Talise Spa umbrella, and choosing to market it as a separate, stand-alone "wellness club" that could attract members not affiliated with the hotels.
It has also meant the transformation of the former sites of two of its restaurants; Mahiki (which is now the gym's changing rooms and indoor studios), and Jamie's Italian.
It's certainly an impressive new offering in a somewhat bloated Dubai fitness scene. The spin studio has the nightclub-esque lights to rival the likes of Flywheel or Crank, whereas the gym floor is wide and spacious and offers plenty of brand-new machines. The attendants, who are busy tidying the floor and dealing with equipment, double as trained physiotherapists and stretching gurus.
Inside the health club, there is a restaurant helmed by renowned Dubai chef Izu Ani, which focuses on wholesome yet indulgent cuisine, in that fresh produce and nourishing ingredients are cooked fine-dining-style.
One of the most exciting new additions to the club, however, is the Fit3D Scanner, a 3D body scanner which will tell you, in just a few short minutes, the entire make-up of your body's fat and muscle composition (however welcome or unwelcome that information may be). That information then provides the base for a trainer to provide a tailor-made fitness plan, accompanied by a nutrition plan and a sleep programme. This is all part of the all-encompassing approach to training the club is trying to provide.
The J Club general manager Joe Gates says it is trying to position itself as a high-end fitness offering, catering to anyone from casual members to endurance athletes. However, families were one of their largest markets, too.
"It's for anybody who has that kind of disposable income to afford it," he says.
"If you want to come here and lose a stone in a month, you can, but if you want to come and lose three stone in a year and completely change your life, you can do that too."
The J Club, as well as Fika, is also being introduced to Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London, but will not be rolled out across all Jumeirah properties.
However, Gates says, the "principle" of the club would be implemented in other Jumeirah hotels, depending on each one's target market. Gates says Dubai would be the platform to launch the concept, but they hoped to take it international eventually.
"We are fortunate to bring 1,000 members and the legacy of being part of a great hotel," Gates says.
"[But] everything we’re doing in this club is for the first time."
As well as the large gym floor and free weights area that looks out at the Burj Al Arab, there is also now three internal studios for classes, six tournament-sized tennis courts, three squash courts, a 25-metre lap pool, and luxury changing facilities (featuring steam room, sauna, experience showers and Dyson hairdryers).
Construction is currently underway on a 150 square metre outdoor gym, to be launched later this year.
It is launching its own brand of fitness classes (J Box, J Stretch, J Condition, etc) but also offer Les Mills classes too.
With your membership, you'll also get discounts at other Jumeirah offerings, such as Talise Spa, Wild Wadi, and at their restaurants.
And it is already attracting famous names, who have chosen to workout there while staying in Dubai. Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, checked into the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and trained at the J Club while he was in the UAE for the Dubai Fitness Challenge, posting regular videos and pictures inside the gym.
The only blight on the club as it stands right now is the ever-encroaching construction going on next door at Jumeriah's adjacent 2,400-hotel-room Marsa Al Arab project, slated to open in late 2020. This has meant cranes, building work and its accompanying noise obstructing an otherwise priceless view out over the Arabian Gulf and the Burj Al Arab.