Get fighting fit! Dubai's boxing gyms
What’s On reviews boxing gyms in Dubai, boxing classes on offer at gyms in Dubai, including personal training, MMA, groups and where to do boxing in Dubai.
So you want to try a boxing class and get guns of steel. But which one is right for you? We’ve tried the best in Dubai to help you choose where to go. Let’s go champ…
Multi Club – GOOD FOR BEGINNERS
This must be the only boxing studio in Dubai that has a waiting area lined with velvet Chesterfield sofas. But after doing a 60-minute boxing session at this spotless gym in Media City, the reason for the sofas becomes clear: you’ll need somewhere to lie down afterwards.
We began with a jog and some stretching, before hitting the bag with simple punch combinations demonstrated by Mahmoud, the friendly, soft-spoken trainer from Uzbekistan who has that chiselled face of a boxer. After each two-minute spell, we were told to do 15 squats and 15 sit-ups before trying another combination. A gentle tap on the shoulder and Mahmoud offered a quick, effective tip on technique. Telling us to keep our guard up, he used the lovely phrase, “Protect your house.” After 15 minutes of this we felt pleasantly calmed by the repetition and rhythm of throwing punches, interspersed with the crunches and squats.
The class (two guys and two girls) ended with 20 minutes of brutal military style circuits of stutter steps to improve footwork, push-ups and burpees. It goes on forever and turned our arms into jelly for days afterwards.
You can borrow gloves but our classmates brought their own, plus handwraps. The equipment and floor mats in the studio are in great condition and the shower area is excellent with toiletries, lockers and fluffy towels. Now then, where’s that couch?
Shatha Tower, 9th Floor, Dubai Media City, Dubai, Mon and Wed 6pm, Dhs60. Tel: (04) 4523388. Metro: Nakheel. multiclub.ae
MMA Fitness Centre – GOOD FOR TECHNIQUE
There is something quite exciting about stepping into a boxing ring. Bending down to duck under the ropes and then stepping onto the canvas, you can’t help but do a little shuffle. Sign up for a boxing class at the MMA Centre in Tecom and this is how the session begins.
First, a light warm up led by Usman from Pakistan, a bear of a man with a disarming smile. Then a few minutes of shadow boxing to hone technique, with a few quick interruptions from Usman about where to put your feet, where to distribute your weight and how to punch.
Next, Usman told the class of eight (six male, two female) to get ready for a sparring session. Each member dashed to their kit bags and pulled on gloves, headguards and jammed in a gumshield. Erm, hang on, what? Nobody told us we had to bring our own kit. Usman kindly lent us his gloves, but we were without a headguard and gumshield for a punishing sparring session where, thankfully, only body shots were allowed. We got paired up with a friendly 6’4” chap called Jamie with arms like cannons, who quickly demolished our ribcage. The buzzer sounded and, wheezing like an 90-year-old man walking up a flight of stairs, we moved on to the next guy, someone a foot shorter than us, but with a meaty jab. Landing punches is all about accuracy and timing and, this being our first time in the ring, we didn’t have much of either. One misguided hook landed straight on the nose of our opponent. Profuse apologies followed, then a tap of the gloves to constitute a handshake and on we went, our opponent attacking with more venom than before, eager for revenge.
Another opponent flashed before our eyes in an oxygen-deprived blur, before we staggered out of the ring to hit the punch bags. Then we climbed back in the ring for some agonising abdominal work. The sweat patches left on the floor of the ring tells you all you need to know about this class, which throws you straight into the deep end of a boxing ring.
Pacific Building, Tecom, Dubai, Aug timetable tba, Dhs100. Tel: (04) 3675077. Metro: Dubai Internet City. mmafitcenter.com
Platform 3 – GOOD FOR ONE-ON-ONE
Platform 3 is the Chris Eubank of boxing gyms – sharply designed, a little eccentric and a tad upper class. But unlike rough and ready classes around town, Platform 3 offers swanky one-on-one tuition. If you’re an optimist, this means the focus is on you; if you’re a cynic, it just means there’s nowhere to hide.
Classes start with a 20-minute Tabata training session – 20 seconds of all-out exercise followed by ten seconds of rest, repeated eight times. This involved skipping, squats, and mini-trampoline sprints – over and over again until we were on the point of spewing.
It’s a pretty savage workout but Omar Alduri, PT and founder of Platform 3, is so encouraging you won’t want to let him down. After Tabata, we slipped on some gloves and hit the ring with our coach. If you’re new, you’ll practise punching sequences with equal emphasis on technique and physical exertion. It’s exhausting but in a fun, clean and playful kind of way.
Park Island Apartments, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Mon 9pm, Wed 9pm, Sat 7pm, Dhs350. Tel: (04) 4358083. Metro: Dubai Marina. p3dubai.com
KO Boxing Gym – GOOD FOR STAMINA
Walk into KO Boxing Gym and you’re at the whim of its team of muscle-bound trainers. You’ll discover they’re way less scary than they look, but the pace of their training sessions can be summarised in one word: relentless.
Burpees, weights, sprints, press-ups, flipping tyres, planks – KO boxers do all this and more before going anywhere near a pair of gloves. When it is time to spar, you and your partner work on sequences of jabs, hooks and upper cuts barked out by the instructors. One of the best things about KO is the personal attention. When you ask for help, they’ll give it. When they spot you doing something wrong, they’ll show you how to correct it. When you start to flag… well, they’ll most likely laugh and yell at you to keep up.
If freshly laundered towels, pristine changing areas and gentle encouragement are important factors in your workout, then KO isn’t for you. But if you want to train hard for 90 minutes and are able overlook the sweaty gear, there’s no better class.
Dream Tower 1, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 6.30pm and 8pm, plus Sat 9am, Sun 8am (ladies only), Mon 6am, 8.30am (ladies only), Tue 8am (ladies only), Wed 6am, 8.30am (ladies only), Thur 8am (ladies only), Dhs60. Tel: (050) 2861673. Metro: Dubai Marina. facebook.com/KO-Gym
Round 10 Boxing Club – GOOD FOR TECHNIQUE
Round 10 is unique in Dubai as it’s the only gym that focuses purely on traditional boxing. From the moment you arrive, you’re immersed in a world of speed bags, heavy punch bags and Muhammad Ali posters. Classes range from cardio boxing to sparring.
Most of the classes are mixed, with extra classes just for women and also for children. The cardio boxing class lasted an hour and began with sprints, sit-ups and push-ups (we detected an air of competition), progressing to work on the punch bags in pairs and finally a variety of abdominal exercises, all done to a soundtrack of bass-laden rap.
After knocking out a few rounds on the punch bags, our arms seemed twice as heavy – the phrase ‘one more minute’ has never sounded so cruel. With two trainers in attendance during the class, mistakes were corrected quickly and politely so we didn’t feel embarrassed. Boasting three full-time coaches (two of whom are current professional boxers) Round 10 caters to all levels of skill, fitness and experience.
Al Quoz 1, Dubai, Mon 6pm, Tue 6.30pm, Wed 7.30pm, Dhs50. Tel: (04) 3380101. Taxi: Corner of Street 19 & 364. round10boxing.com
The Champion Club – GOOD FOR TECHNIQUE
If your technique is a bit suspect, The Champion Club’s burly trainer Abas will spot it faster than Floyd Mayweather throws a jab. He took us aside for a dummy’s guide to boxing. Chin down, jaw clenched, shoulders nice and relaxed.
After a warm-up, another trainer, Atan, led the group (men and women) through some synchronised shadow boxing, interspersed with exercises to work key muscles and improve stamina. Sparring plays a big part in classes here, so expect to give and receive some light blows. Like any good boxer, you’ll have your gloves held to your face to protect you, so you won’t be seeing stars. The focus here is on technique rather than training till you vomit, though the smell of your hands when you take off the gloves may have that effect.
More committed boxers can make use of the gym facilities, from weights and medicine balls, rowing and cycling machines and a tractor tyre that you can pummel with a sledge hammer. No, really. The first session is free, and every two or three months, the venue hosts an interclub championship, so you have something to work towards if you want a goal. Otherwise, you can just spar till your heart’s content, let off some steam and get super fit while you’re at it.
Icon Tower 2, Cluster L, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, Sun and Tue 6.45pm and 8pm, Dhs60. Tel: (04) 4474980. Taxi: Cluster L, JLT. thechampionclub.com
Fit Boys Gym – GOOD FOR CAMARADERIE
Hearing a boxing trainer tell his class “I want to kill your stomach” might sound scary on paper. But when Gerard, the hard as nails Ghanaian trainer at Fit Boys Gym in JLT, says it, he makes it sound sort of charming. It’s a brief moment of levity in what is a murderous 60-minute class of circuit training and glove work.
This is a proper boxing gym. The only frills are the fantastic giant posters of boxing greats on the walls, bearing their inspirational quotes. The warm-up and circuit take up the first half of the class and is intense. Running with 3kg dumbbells, rowing, cycling, squats, tyre flipping, and push-ups has the class of eight (all male) dripping with sweat in minutes. The stomach killer – Gerard’s favourite – sees us adopt the crunch position (legs off the floor) while he drops a medicine ball on our stomach. Repeatedly. For 60 seconds. Anybody passing the gym and hearing the grunts and groans from inside would think somebody was giving birth inside.
Next we find a partner. One wears gloves, one wears padded mitts. Gerard shows us an eight-punch combination and we copy it for two minutes. Then a different combination, then another. The coordination required from both partners is tricky at first but once you find the rhythm, it’s fun and a great workout for your brain as well as your shoulders. The session ends with stretches and a spontaneous round of applause, handshakes and smiles.
As we leave we spot a poster of Muhammad Ali with this quote, “I hated every minute of training.” Well, maybe he should have gone to Fit Boys – he would have loved it.
Red Diamond Building, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, Sat, Tue and Thur 6.30am, Dhs60. Tel: (800) 269464. Taxi: Opposite Cluster Y, JLT, next to Carrefour. fitboysgym.com
Lee Hurford Boxing Academy – GOOD FOR MOTIVATION
When you sign up for a boxing session with Lee Hurford you get one-on-one intensive, interactive training with an ex-marine who encourages and motivates – even while throwing punches.
The sessions happen throughout Dubai; we tried one at Team Nogueira gym. To start, we discussed our goals and Lee explained what we were about to do: a five-stage boxing and fitness routine that incorporated everything from the technicalities of throwing punches, to cardio rounds, to abs and leg workouts.
During the next hour, Lee was there every step of the way: blocking punches; having you punch his hands; doing cardio drills; and shouting encouragement with each painful burpee. The moves even draw on Lee’s time as a marine, such as the three-point push-ups that left us shaking. Everything uses bodyweight and a series of high-intensity movements. The session whizzes by with his enthusiasm and, by the end, we were dripping in sweat.
Ideally, Lee likes to work to a 12-week schedule to mirror what a boxer would do before a fight. He’s confident his classes work. “There’s no way you won’t get results. If your results don’t improve, either I’m doing something wrong or you’re not telling me about those chips you ate last night.”
Before we go, one last challenge: learning a 22-step boxing routine. With a final fist bump in celebration, we step out of the ring.
Varying locations, including Emirates Golf Club, Kempenski Hotel, Team Nogueira Gym, and private residences, Dhs350, Dhs200 for boot camp group class at Emirates Golf Club. Tel: (055) 1107604. leehurford.weebly.com
Team Nogueira Dubai – GOOD FOR EQUIPMENT
The first thing we noticed about Team Nogueira is the sheer size of the place. It’s an entire warehouse with an Mixed Martial Arts cage, boxing ring, Jiu-Jitsu mats, Muay Thai area and a café. Having opened this year, the facilities are impressive, even if the gym is a little
hard to find.
Boxing classes are run by coach Athanasios (Akis for short), an ex-professional Greek boxer, whose name literally means ‘the immortal’. If you’re going to learn how to box, learning from a guy with a nickname as awesome as that must surely be a good thing
Beginners get a free taster class and the option of signing up for three, six or 12-month memberships. Dhs465 allows you access to three classes a week, for one month. With 12 classes spread over the week, overcrowding isn’t a problem and individual attention is guaranteed. Classes are comprised of technique, strength and conditioning, and sparring. You’d think it’d be your arms that would get a pounding during a boxing class but after one technique session it was our calves that ached. Why? It seems that no boxing combination is complete without some fancy footwork.
Sparring is a lively affair, and not for the fainthearted. But for those keen on taking up boxing as a sport, or testing themselves, the experience is exhilarating. Each class lasts an hour, and with varied music played throughout the gym it’s easy to feel like you’re in a Rocky montage. You may not feel immortal at the end, but you will certainly feel fitter.
Street 4, Al Quoz, Dubai, Sun to Thur 6.30pm and 8pm, Sat 11am, Dhs465. Tel: (04) 3388967. Taxi: Behind Audi showroom. teamnogueiradubai.com