Bored of the gym? These challenging fitness classes in Dubai will get you up in the air and out of your comfort zone.

1. Pole fitness

Pole Fit Dubai

Where: Pole Fit Dubai

In a nutshell: A surprisingly tough workout that mixes flexibility, dance and strength

What to expect: For the self-conscious exerciser who’d never be caught taking a #gymselfie, a room full of mirrors where you shimmy around a pole wearing short shorts sounds like the stuff of nightmares. But we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Pole Fit may be one of the most mood-boosting fitness classes around. The workout starts with a brief warm up, and you’ll gradually be introduced to various moves, such as lifting, swinging, dancing and climbing up the pole, all of which are gradually merged into one seamless routine. It takes a lot more strength than you think, but it’s so rewarding when you master a new trick. The awkwardness during your first class doesn’t last very long, either. Plus, everyone we know who regularly does pole fitness has a rock hard core.

Top tip: Want even more of a challenge? Pole Fit also offers classes in aerial silks.

Marina Sails Tower, next to Byblos Hotel Marina, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 9am to 10pm, Dhs100. Tel: (04) 5516911. Metro: JLT.

2. Parkour

Parkour DXB

Where: Parkour DXB

In a nutshell: An energetic, playful workout for mind and body

What to expect: Also known as free-running, parkour involves running, jumping and climbing from place to place. It originated in France in the 1980s, and one of the pioneers of the sport, Stephane Vigroux, teaches at Parkour DXB. Class starts with a dynamic warm up that includes limbering up, squatting and bear crawls. Then you’ll learn the correct techniques for how to jump and land safely, on obstacles that become progressively more challenging. Finally, you’ll tackle an obstacle course that puts all your new skills into practice. It feels like a playground for grown-ups (although there are children’s classes too).

Top tip: Wear trainers with as thin a sole as possible, for maximum grip and control while you navigate the obstacles. 

Hapi Cafe, Warehouse 42, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, Dhs125. Tel: (052) 9308709. Taxi: Alserkal Avenue.

3. Bouldering

Rock Republic

Where: Rock Republic

In a nutshell: Play at being Spider-Man in Dubai’s only dedicated bouldering centre

What to expect: Forget the complicated ropes and harnesses that you associate with rock climbing. Bouldering is a lot less complex, but arguably even more of a challenge, as you use your own physical strength to conquer the wall. Don’t worry, the bouldering walls are relatively low with plenty of cushioned (and aptly named) crash mats below you in case you take a tumble. Each route is graded according to difficulty, so you can really observe your progress.

Top tip: Rock Republic has recently launched ladies only bouldering evenings. On the last Thursday of every month, from 6.30pm to 9pm, it’s a women-only zone. It’s Dhs50 for entry, and an additional Dhs50 if you’d like a one-hour bouldering lesson with an instructor.

Rock Republic, Dubai Investment Park 1, Mon to Thur 5.30pm to 9.30pm, Fri and Sat 1pm to 8pm, Dhs80 or Dhs500 for ten sessions. Tel: (050) 1001370. Taxi: Dubai Investment Park.

4. Calisthenics

Gravity DXB Calisthenics

Where: Gravity DXB

In a nutshell: Body weight training in an indoor playground

What to expect: For those who want to learn gravity defying tricks like handstands and flags, Gravity DXB is a good place to start.

The studio looks like a playground consisting of monkey bars, climbing frames and squishy floors, and the workouts combine elements of strength, gymnastics and parkour. You start off warming up with basic body weight exercises and gradually build up to more challenging moves such as pull-ups and ‘skinning the cat’ (hanging from a bar and rotating your legs over your head and behind your back). Don’t expect gravity defying moves overnight though. It’s a slow process but a killer workout.

Top tip: Gravity DXB is home to instructor Amal Murad, the first ever female Emirati parkour coach. 

Al Quoz 3, Dubai, Mon 6pm, Tue to Thur 7pm, Fri 8am and 10am, Dhs130. Tel: (04) 3216006. Taxi: Road 318 between Al Marabea Road and Umm Suqeim Road.

5. Swing Yoga

Define Dubai

Where: Define Dubai

In a nutshell: Silk hammocks take the weight off your joints and make handstands a breeze

What you need to know: Swing yoga is a stretching, strengthening and flexibility-boosting class, where you use silk hammocks. Class starts off with some mat-based warm up moves, before hopping into the hammock. Some of the poses involve using the it as a prop – for example, stretching out your hamstrings by having one heel in the silk and the other planted on the floor. As you build your confidence, you can even get into some backbends and inversions.

Top tip: Wear form-fitting yoga wear so you don’t get tangled up in the hammock.

Silverene Tower, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 7am to 9pm, Dhs110. Tel: (04) 4216377. Metro: JLT.

6. Climbing

Mountain Extreme

Where: Mountain Extreme

In a nutshell: The newest and largest indoor climbing and bouldering facility in Dubai 

What to expect: For anyone who’s tired of the gym, climbing offers a great way to get fit indoors without ever getting bored. This is especially true at Mountain Extreme, a colourful new facility with 60 bouldering routes and around 70 climbing routes ranging from 4a to 7b in terms of difficulty. They offer intro classes with expert instructors for beginners as well as workshops for experienced climbers who want to improve. We predict plenty of people will take advantage of the monthly and yearly memberships that offer unlimited climbing seven days a week.

Top tip: There’s a range of membership options, including family and couple memberships. Members get plenty of benefits, including referral bonuses and guest passes.

Capital Golden Tower, Al Khaleej Al Tejari Street, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 10am to 10pm, Dhs100, Dhs800 per month, Dhs3,500 per year. Tel: (04) 4466080. Taxi: opposite Sobha Sapphire Tower.

7. Indoor skydiving


Where: iFly

In a nutshell: A quick taste of skydiving for absolute beginners

What to expect: Dying to give skydiving a go, but not quite ready to hurtle at breakneck speed towards the earth? At iFly, instead of leaping out of an aeroplane so high the Burj looks like a pinhead, you’ll be jumping into a giant wind tunnel. Your first flight involves one minute of your trainer steadying you as you flail hopelessly in mid-air, while the second minute is where you’re surging upwards and downwards in a thrilling experience as good as any coffee for a quick mid-morning perk-up. While you’ll resemble a chipmunk having dental surgery in every photo, this is a thrill for anyone who always secretly wanted to be a superhero. Next stop: actual skydiving. Baby steps

Top tip: Be warned, if you’ve actually done a proper skydive, you might find the iFly experience a bit underwhelming.

Mirdif City Centre, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Dubai, Dhs220, Tel: (04) 2316292. Taxi: Mirdif City Centre.

8. Zip-lining

Aventura Park

Where: Aventura Nature Adventure Park

In a nutshell: Pretend to be Tarzan at a new rope park in Mirdif

What to expect: Set in the 35,000 square metres of a Ghaf tree forest in Mushrif Park, a visit to Aventura Nature Adventure Park involves testing your nerve, as you’re strapped into safety lines and set free to explore everything from zip-lining to canopy walks and rope climbing. It’s a great way to get off the ground, into the trees and back to nature. They also offer special rates for school groups and corporate team building days.

Aventura Nature Adventure Park, Mushrif Park, Mirdif, Dubai, Sun to Thur 9.30am to 50pm, Fri and Sat 9.30am to 6pm, Dhs150, Dhs125 for children under 1.4 metres. Tel: (056) 8871687.

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