The trend towards exercising indoors in the UAE has become a case of the mall the merrier, with walking enthusiasts opting for a cooler alternative to get their daily dose of exercise during the summer months.
The heat that engulfs the desert for half the year has prompted walkers to choose shopping malls over outdoor footpaths and walking trails.
If it seems an odd choice, it’s really not – when you think about it, malls offer a cool climate and flat surfaces, they lack the intimidation of gyms and, perhaps more importantly to some, provide somewhere for a coffee and a chat afterward.
Instead of burning a hole in their purse by shopping, plenty of people are choosing to burn calories instead by joining the in-mall groups currently operating in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The Abu Dhabi Mall hosts mall walkers before the centre open its doors each day. The concept has been running at the mall since 2002, with walkers of all ages pounding the mall pavement between 7am and 10am.
According to mall management, the group currently has 1,000 registered walkers, with women making up 60 per cent of them. “The group was implemented as a way of providing suitable conditions for people wanting to walk,” a spokesperson says.
The numbers of mall walkers is expected to ramp up in the coming months as the weather gets warmer, and with a floor space of 34,000 square metres at Abu Dhabi Mall, there is plenty of area for the foot brigade to clock up the numbers on their pedometers and activity trackers.
Although there is no longer an organised mall-walking programme at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, a management spokesperson says fitness groups and individuals are still encouraged to use the facility for healthy-living purposes.
So, if you’re a fitness group looking for a venue out of the stifling summer heat and somewhere that offers a safe, flat walking environment, this might be worth considering.
Aside from the mall-walking options, specific indoor-walking classes have cropped up around the region in recent years.
Indoorwalking Middle East offers a programme that uses a specially built elliptical machine and a set of positions, grips, resistances and speeds designed to provide an intensive but safe workout anyone can do.
There is an indoor-walking centre in Dubai at Total Elliptic and, whether it be during winter or summer, there is a walking machine there that will help you keep your cardio up irrespective of the temperature outside.
So if you are considering a viable summer exercise option and haven’t yet considered something indoors besides the gym, mall walking and indoor walking may be for you.
To register with the mall walkers at Abu Dhabi Mall, speak with the customer-service desk staff at the mall or visit abudhabi-mall.com. For information about using the Mall of the Emirates facilities, visit malloftheemirates.com. For indoor walking, visit indoorwalking-me.com or totalelliptic.com.