The Brazilian athlete and model Andreia Brazier, 34, visited Dubai in November for work and ended up hooked.
Within a matter of weeks, she set up her own business, A1 Lifestyle, and relocated from London to somewhere a little more like her home climate.
"I only came here for one client but I became so busy and people wanted to train with me and were telling me to stay," says Brazier, the World Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (WBFF) pro winner.
24 Fitness in Al Quoz, a gym that has become synonymous with some of Dubai's top athletes and bodybuilders, has given her space to train. "I wasn't very happy in London," Brazier says. "I've been there seven years now and here was an opportunity for a new life and change."
Though dressed in feminine, loose-fitting weekend wear, her petite frame belies the figure she has become famous for. Brazier's training sessions will at first be for women only but in time she will offer men's sessions.
"I want to have just small groups to focus on quality training," she says. Using mostly free weights, she does no cardiovascular work and trains simply by using a metabolic system and a strict nutritional plan. "I believe the body should move freely and do what it does day to day," she says.
Brazier has been an avid athlete for more than 10 years and took the world title in Canada last year, beating off more than 40 other competitors. Many of her clients want to follow in her footsteps and compete in the fitness event where she won world champion.
Other clients, such as Lesley Jones, 45, just want to increase their fitness level. Jones is a personal trainer who turned to Brazier for personal and professional development.
"So far in four sessions, I'm already noticing a difference in my strength," Jones says. "Her method of training is high intensity interval training. I think that's a really good way to help you burn fat and to help keep on burning fat even after training." Jones has noticed that she can be pushed harder than she would push herself but she says it comes at a price.
"It's expensive, yes, but I'm going into it with an open eye. It's also the beginning of the year so I thought it would be a good time to hit the training harder."
Without the nutritional plan, though - which for Jones includes expensive supplements including muscle-building creatine, fat-burning carnatin and glutamin for muscle recovery - Brazier says training will not result in any major change.
"It's very, very important. If they don't follow the nutritional advice, they won't change so much," she says. "They'll get stronger but they need the nutritional side, too. The diet may vary as they train, though. If they tell me they're still hungry or tired, then I vary it."
Brazier's diet consists mainly of good fats, vegetables and protein. As she talks, she eats the tuna from a toasted sandwich, discarding the bread.
Her programme is born of personal experience. "People can't train this if they haven't gone through it, knowing the pain and the pleasure," she says. "When you know that, you can tell people how you felt, then people know that at the end of the day we're all the same with the same insecurity."
Ellie Stoyanova, 30, is also a personal trainer. To her, it is worth the cost to train with a world champion. "If you have a target, you try to learn from the best or someone who you think can help you achieve your goals," she says. "Being on the top level, she must know something more than others must know."
In her group, which trains three times a week with Brazier, the women are already trainers or highly active. "I don't think it's for beginners," she says. "If you were a beginner, I think you'd struggle with the diet, with the weights."
Brazier's credo is simple: nothing comes without hard work. "The more you give, the more you get. I will help people achieve what they want but they have to want it. It's like a mother wanting her son to be a doctor. They have to do it for themselves."
"I don't do cardio," Brazier says. "You'll see why when you do my class." We're thrown into the deep end, and she soon has us squatting with weighted ankles and heavy kettle bells. Heavy lifting is key to triggering the metabolism and as the muscles start to burn, you realise why. Before long we are doing forwards and backwards walking lunges with kettle bells, tractor tyre flipping and some tough ab work.
With a session like this, you realise no body like Brazier's is gained through running or lengthy cardio work. She pushes us hard, but in a good way. The heart is soon pumping and the shock to the system is guaranteed to kick-start the fat-burning process.
Brazier says 70 per cent of body work is nutrition.Although she doesn't come cheap, it's clear why she's top of her game.