DUBAI // Naveed Ali was determined to stay fit when he came to the UAE. But the price of sporting equipment has not made it easy.
"It's pretty ridiculous how much more expensive this stuff is here compared to back home," said Mr Ali, who is from the UK. "You want to stay fit and healthy but to do that you have to accept you're going to pay more for things like this."
A TRX suspension trainer, for example, costs Dh950 in the UAE but is Dh771 in the UK and Dh734 in the US.
Reebok boxing gloves cost Dh195 at a Go Sports store in Dubai Mall but Dh118 in the UK.
For weightlifters, a York Fitness 50kg cast iron barbell and dumbbell set costs Dh695 here and is Dh610 in the UK.
Similarly a York treadmill is Dh4,550 in the UAE but is Dh1,294 cheaper in Britain.
A Tower 200 door gym is Dh290 in the UK but retails at Dh445 in the UAE.
A staff member at Sun and Sands Sports in Dubai Mall, who did not want to be named, said much of the price difference could be put down to the cost of importing the equipment into the country.
"A lot of the stuff is made in the Far East and there are charges for bringing it here," she said.
Her explanation was echoed by international gym equipment manufacturer Technogym, which has offices in the UAE.
"I would say the biggest reason prices are higher is the equipment is manufactured aboard and so there is a cost of importing them here," said Mohammed Al Moussa, trading and marketing manager at Technogym in Dubai. "I can't speak for prices in the UK or US but some sellers may be taking advantage of the import charges to push up prices."
Despite the higher prices, he said, there was a growing and developing health and fitness market in the UAE.
"Five years ago it was just a case of bodybuilding and getting bigger muscles," he said. "But now I see more and more boot camps and crossfit training that aims to improve your overall health."
Crossfit's annual turnover increased from Dh10 million when it opened in the UAE in 2005 to Dh60m today, he said. "The cost of staying fit in Dubai is very frustrating but that's the way it," said Mr Ali.
The business consultant, who has been in the emirate for three years, said he now only uses the gym at his apartment block in Al Barsha.
"The quality of gyms in residential areas is pretty mixed. It would be fine if they had some decent equipment and kept them well-maintained but that's not always the case," he said. It isn't just fitness equipment that is more pricey here. The cost of personal training has increased significantly over the years.
Prices now start between Dh300 and Dh350 for an hour's session and most instructors require that their clients buy a minimum of 10 sessions.
By comparison, rates in the UK are at around Dh207 per hour.
"What it boils down to is that when one person increases their prices and everyone else follows suit," said one instructor. The market is pretty buoyant at the moment and people are willing to pay for personal instruction. Having said that you still want to remain competitive and not price yourself out of the range of clients."
He said he preferred having a handful of regular clients to trying to fit in as many people as possible.
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