Helena Frith Powell checks out a new gym that is helping women get in shape, fast.
Arvilla Spa and Fitness
We have bad news for you, girls. Lack of time is no longer a valid excuse not to exercise. Tucked away in a large villa behind Airport Road in Abu Dhabi is a new fitness centre exclusively for women and children, imported by Rodda al Muhairi and her business partner, Ameera Ahmed. "A friend of mine came to visit me from the US," explains al Muhairi. "I noticed her body had changed shape and asked her what happened. She told me she does 30 minutes circuit training a few times a week at a specialised gym."
Al Muhairi decided to set up a similar facility in the UAE capital. She contacted the US supplier, Shapes for Women, and imported circuit-training equipment for women and children. Arvilla, as the name suggests, is in a villa near Al Wahda Mall. You can tell immediately this is a gym for women by the pink theme. There are pink towels and pink mats, the gym staff wear pink and pink decorations adorn the lockers.
The lower floor houses a basic gym with two rooms: one with treadmills and bikes, the other with weight machines for circuit training. The second floor has a dedicated spa, with a Moroccan bath, massage and waxing rooms and a hairdresser. On the third floor is the children's gym, similar to the women's below, but multi-coloured and smaller. Although designed for women, al Muhairi stresses the importance of the children's facilities. "Some kids these days have problems like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes," she says. "This is an essential part of our service here. I was not interested in starting up a normal gym and spa but really focused on what circuit training can offer people of all ages."
The staff at Arvilla have been recruited from all over the world. The masseurs are from Thailand, a Moroccan woman administers the baths, and Nahida, who ran a gym in Algeria, oversees the circuit training. There are no scheduled times - you come when you want to - but there is always one of four personal trainers on hand to take care of you and the children. Nahida recommends you go every day and says that within 30 to 40 days you will see a difference in body tone and shape.
"Circuit training is a great way to burn fat, tone and give you a cardiovascular workout, all in a very short space of time," she says. The circuit training consists of one minute on each weight machine, with a minute in between on either a "step" or a "station". The latter is a square with a rubber mat that you jump up and down on. The idea with the weight machines is that you work every muscle to tone your body. A recorded voice tells you to "change station" every 60 seconds.
An annual membership costing Dh5,000 (plus Dh3,700 for a child) offers unlimited access to the gym. Arvilla is also offering a special for Ramadan: pay Dh2,400 for three months' membership and get nine months free. Helena Frith Powell Arvilla Spa and Fitness, Al Karamah, Villa No. 23/1, 02 4466649 or 050 5422622
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Ramadan Shoebox Appeal Following the success of last year's inaugural campaign, the Ramadan Shoebox Appeal 2009 is under way. This year, organisers are looking to distribute 10,000 shoebox care packages to construction workers in Dubai and are looking for donations from individuals, companies, schools and organisations. The appeal is being organised by the Radisson Blu Hotel, Tecom and Helping Hands, which will distribute the boxes to workers. Emphasising the importance of care packages, Elle Trow of Helping Hands says that even a simple item, such as a money belt, can make a real difference to workers, allowing them to carry their essentials safely. You can fill any number of boxes, but each one has to contain items from the list in the box, right. You can use your own shoeboxes or pick one up at any of the following collection/drop-off points: DUBAI: At the Tecom points in Media City, Internet City, Knowledge Village, Healthcare City and Studio City, from 9am-6pm, Sunday to Thursday, or at the main reception at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Media City. ABU DHABI: For more information, on drop-off points in Abu Dhabi, contact Elle from Helping Hands on 050 567 1434 or email email@example.com. The campaign runs until September 30. What to put in the box: * money belt * T-shirt * cap * disposable razor * shaving cream * aftershave * deodorant * toothbrush * toothpaste * nail clippers * small hand towels * comb * shaving mirror * soap * shampoo The organisers request that you do not put food or money in the boxes.