Which Dubai gyms have reopened and how they're adapting to a new normal: from classes to machines

As gyms in Dubai start to reopen, there will be some big changes

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After more than two months of closures, gyms in Dubai are now welcoming members back to their premises.

From Wednesday, May 27, gyms and sporting facilities around the emirate will be opening their doors; but the fitness facilities will look very different to the places they were in March.

The reopenings come with a list of conditions from the government. They can return at 50 per cent of their normal capacity, while guests and trainers will be required to wear masks at all times during light or moderate physical activity. The masks can be lowered for “strenuous physical exercise”.

The Den will switch up its classes to create individual stations for each participant, giving them a designated marked-out area on the floor and providing them with all the equipment they need

Commonly used items such as medicine balls, dumbbells, kettlebells, weightlifting belts, bars and plates must be used on a strict “calendarisation basis”. That means no two people can use equipment at the same time, and it must be sanitised prior to being used by another individual.

The rules also state that a two-metre physical distance must be kept at all times, and, where it is required, separators or partitions should be used between equipment.

GymNation: 50 per cent capacity in classes 

GymNation, which has branches in Bur Dubai and Al Quoz, was among the first to reopen at 6am on Wednesday morning. “We look forward to helping GymNation members get back into their usual exercise routines,” says founder and chief executive Loren Holland.

“While we have always been dedicated to the cleanliness of GymNation locations and the health and safety of our members and staff, we are implementing additional safety and cleanliness measures.”

Equipment has been spaced out to ensure social-distancing measures between members, both locations have undergone extensive sanitisation programmes, and classes will only be able to operate at a 50 per cent capacity, and must be booked in advance via the app.

The Den DXB: static circuit classes

There will also be big changes to the way classes operate at The Den DXB in Dubai's Motor City. Members have been informed that all classes will be limited to 10 to ensure sufficient social distancing – nine participants and one trainer.

“As you have seen, the government has announced that we must follow certain safety measures to ensure we can maintain a safe and virus-free environment,” members were told. “Please work with us on this as it’s going to be different for all of us, and something we will be figuring out, too, as things develop and guidelines change.”

The Den will switch up its strength and conditioning-based classes to create individual stations for each participant, giving them a designated marked-out area on the floor and providing them with all the equipment they need for the whole class, as well as the mandatory cleaning supplies to be used after the session.

Classes will be reduced from an hour to 45 minutes to ensure enough time to thoroughly clean and set up for the next class, and members must bring their own towels and water.

The Den DXB has created personal workout spaces, mapped out in blue, in which all members will be given the equipment they need for the class. The Den DXB

"We are excited to get going," says Michael Sole, founder of the The Den DXB. "We’ve made more space in our facility by introducing shorter, more space-efficient barbells, modifying the squat rack and pull-up bars, and we can’t wait to show them off.”

NRG Fitness: taking its time to reopen and will keep equipment at a minimum  

At NRG Fitness in Dubai Marina, reopening will take a little longer as trainers try to adapt classes to ensure the safety of all staff and members.

"Member and staff safety is at the forefront of our minds when it comes to reopening NRG. Although fitness facilities have been given approval to gradually reopen from May 27, we are taking a few extra days before opening to ensure we’re following the guidelines and going above and beyond for our team and members," says Helle Bachofen von Echt, manager at NRG.

"For classes such as HIIT, equipment will be at a minimum and body weight will be the main focus. We will not be doing any classes that involve members moving round the room, such as Circuit, and will be ensuring there’s enough personal space for members to work out during the class.

Helle Bachofen von Echt taking an indoor cycling class at NRG Fitness before the March 2020 closure of Dubai gyms. Courtesy NRG Fitness 

"As for the cycle room, members will be spread out with a two-metre distance between bikes, and the class will be at 40 per cent capacity, as it is high-intensity and requires a stricter protocol."

There will be sufficient time between classes to allow a deep clean of all equipment and surfaces. The coaches will be changing their uniforms between sessions, she adds.

Fitness First: you need to book before you go

Fitness First will also be reopening its Dubai clubs on Wednesday. However, members must book a slot as the gym can operate only at half its capacity. Anyone turning up without booking a slot, either for a class or a general workout, will be denied entry.

The number of cardio equipment available at the centre will be down 50 per cent after rearranging them for social distancing. Some items such as boxing gloves will remain unavailable for the time being.

Fitness First urged its customers "to review and accept our agreement to ensure maximum safety and wellbeing for you, other members and our staff”.

Fitness First, among other gyms such as F45, has said it will continue to hold virtual workouts to ensure all members have access to classes.

Crank: bikes will have partitions between riders 

The studio in Alserkal Avenue has announced it will reopen on Sunday, May 31. All classes will run up to 50 per cent capacity with bikes and benches spaced two metres apart. In addition, bikes will also have partitions installed between riders. Classes will not run back-to-back as there will be a 45-minute break between for deep cleaning. 
In terms of santisation, all gym equipment including bike shoes will be cleaned with an alcohol-based santiser and shoes will be rotated so that they are not used two classes in a row. 
Another important thing to note is that showers and changing rooms, including bathroom lockers, will not be permitted for use while toilets and sinks will be deep cleaned after every use.

Metalize: offering custom packages so members feel comfortable

Metalize, based in Ras Al Khor, has reopened to members after undergoing an extensive sterilisation process.

“Since we opened in 2013, thousands of people have entrusted us to help them transform their health and lifestyle through inclusive yet challenging functional fitness classes,” said Emirati entrepreneur and Metalize founder and owner, Abdel Rahman.

“The current situation has caused people to reassess what’s important with health and well-being at top of the list. Throughout it all, we have remained committed to our members and have adapted in a variety of ways to allow our members to work out safely at home and stay connected while we were closed. Now, as we’re able to reopen, we want to help people to get or stay fit in a way that is safe and works for them, and that includes a focus and new membership options.”

Although classes are limited to eight people, Rahman says he understands people may not want to return to the studio straight away. As such, the gym is now offering a 'Get Metalized Home' bundle, featuring five virtual workouts per week, while the 'Stronger Together' membership targets members of the same family or household who may only like to take classes together, offering them the chance to workout in small groups of four or five.

Metalize has also created segregated workout zones and removed all unnecessary equipment from the facility.

UnderdogBOXN: boxing gloves sanitised after every use

UnderdogBOXN, in Dubai Media City, will reopen on Friday, May 29, with added safety measures. All common areas and studios will be disinfected between classes, while boxing gloves will be sanitised and dried after every use.

The studio will also shuffle its boxing gloves to allow at least 24 hours between use. All classes will be reduced to 50 per cent capacity and boxing bags will be spaced out to comply with social distancing.

Barry's: added cleaning time

Barry’s will be reopening its studios in DIFC on Thursday, May 28, although it has not revealed details for the reopening of its Dubai Marina studio. The studio has increased its workforce to ensure thorough cleaning between classes and throughout the day, and a daily deep clean will take place between 1.30pm and 2pm. There will be 40 minutes between each class to ensure enough time for cleaning, and all equipment, including dumbbells, benches and bands will be single use only.

The class numbers have been capped to allow two metres between all participants, and there will be no walk-ins permitted. All members will need to book classes ahead of visiting the studio. As per the government guidelines, showers and changing rooms will remain temporarily closed.

Platform: open from June 1

Platform gym, which has studios in Dubai Marina and DIFC, is taking a phased approach to reopening to ensure the safety of its staff and members.

The Marina studio will open on Monday, June 1 with a reduced class schedule, while the DIFC studio will reopen at a later date. In the meantime, Platform will continue to offer classes online.

All government safety measures will be in place, including the mandatory use of masks and temperature checks, and in addition the studio will feature markers on the floor to ensure members maintain the required two-metre distance at all times.

Orangetheory: not open yet, date to come soon 

Circuit gym Orangetheory Fitness says it also needs to properly sort out safety and "get approval from corporate HQ" before it opens, but that the team will continue to post at-home workouts on Instagram and a reopening date will be announced soon.