Darryn Whitsitt, my personal trainer for the afternoon, had warned me at the beginning of the session that "Platform 3 isn't like the average gym". Dangling from a rope, halfway up an eight-metre (26-foot) climbing wall - arms shaking through a combination of adrenalin (read: fear) and exertion - I'm inclined to agree.
This spotlessly clean, bright, airy, 4,200-square-foot space opened in Dubai Marina in August, bringing with it a different membership concept. Instead of being charged a yearly or monthly fee, customers pay per individual session, appointments for which must be made in advance.
This provides flexibility (you only pay for the facilities when you use them), and also means that training is streamlined; the sessions are conducted by personal trainers and tailored to individual needs.
Perhaps most important for anyone who has experienced the frustration of hauling themselves to the gym for a post-work workout, only to discover that there's a queue for every piece of equipment, at Platform 3 only six clients can train at any one time.
We start with a tour of the facilities. There are a few cardio machines, a customised boxing ring, the climbing wall and a conditioning zone kitted out with kettlebells, sandbags, tires, weighted fitness balls, ViPRs and TRX suspension trainers. The gym also boasts two gravity machines (thought to be the only ones in the UAE), changing rooms equipped with rain showers and a sauna and the services of the in-house dietitian Hala Barghout and the sports therapist Paul Guillermo.
In short, every piece of equipment has been selected for a reason (to boot your body into shape, being the probable one) and the aim of Platform 3 is not only to provide a means of getting (and staying) fit, but to offer nutritional advice and sports-therapy services.
My session begins with a quick stint on the cross trainer and rowing machine to warm up before we head downstairs to circuit-train. During this time, I become well acquainted with a couple of ViPRs, which, for the uninitiated, are weighted foam cylinders, that look innocuous enough, but are in fact capable of inflicting pain (ie, doing good) and have, Whitsitt tells me, a multitude of uses.
We work out the arms (kettlebells, weighted balls, pull-ups), legs (step-ups, squats) and stomach (the plank, crunches) and stretch previously unused (or so it feels) muscles in my back, via the TRX suspension trainer (two nylon rope straps, which when attached to a stable structure, force you to use your body weight as resistance and are again very versatile).
Whitsitt offers a thorough explanation of each exercise and strikes a great balance between being patient, engaging and encouraging. He pushes me to keep going when I know if I were on my own I would stop, and doesn't bat an eyelid when my face turns a not-altogether-attractive shade of beetroot, which I appreciate.
The services available at Platform 3 are excellent, and if money were no object, I'd like to think that I'd be there three times a week. At first glance, however, the prices for these training sessions are enough to make you wince - almost as much as holding the plank does.
Clients are required to take part in a mandatory P3 Induction session (Dh350), which includes a nutritional consultation with a clinical dietitian, a full-body composition analysis and a personal-training consultation. After that, a personal-training session can either be purchased singularly for Dh300 or be bought in bulk, to be used as and when you want, with the cost per session decreasing the more you buy (Dh2,900 for 10 sessions, Dh8,100 for 30 sessions, Dh12,500 for 50 sessions).
While this is undeniably expensive, the professionals who work here are highly trained and the services they provide are bespoke and are therefore highly likely to yield results.
For anyone who is seriously interested in getting or staying fit, eating healthily and really understanding how to look after his or her body, I'd say that Platform 3 is well worth checking out.
Platform 3 Fitness: Park Island Dubai Marina, Telephone: 04 435 8083 www.p3dubai.com.