Beating the bulge: 10 family-friendly fitness activities in the UAE
Finding time to work out isn’t always easy. Trying to do so when you have children can be an even bigger challenge. So why not combine the two? Here are some of the country’s top family-friendly activities:
Yoga / Pilates
Yoga and Pilates are safe, effective ways of easing back into fitness post-birth, and can help address everything from lower-back pain to abdominal separation. A class with your child also provides an excellent bonding opportunity.
Mum-and-baby Pilates: “Our mum-and-baby classes offer a relaxed and friendly environment for mothers to connect with their babies,” says Jolene Nash, an instructor at Naya Yoga & Pilates in Dubai. It’s suitable for babies up to crawling age.
• Thursdays, 11am, Naya Yoga & Pilates, Motor City, Dubai; www.naya.ae.
Pilates reformer/children’s yoga: Take a Pilates reformer class while your child enjoys a children’s yoga class at the same time. Instructor Katherine Cebrowski, co-founder of Posetivity Yoga, guides your child through a 60-minute session.
• Tuesdays, 3.15pm (ages 3 to 5), 4.15pm (ages 6 to 11), Naya.
Mother-and-baby Yoga: “Babies have experienced being rocked by their mothers throughout pregnancy. The practice of baby yoga provides a wonderful opportunity to handle babies in ways that they will enjoy,” explains instructor Carla Julian, from Zoga in Dubai.
• Sundays, 11.30am (ages 6 weeks to 12 months), Zoga, Business Bay, Dubai; www.zoga.ae; Thursdays, 11.45am (ages 8 to 12 months, or until they’re active), BodyTree Studio, Abu Dhabi; www.bodytreestudio.com.
Mums-and-toddlers yoga: Have a laugh, balance and breath with your child.
• Mondays, 11.30am (ages 2 to 4), Zoga.
Parent-and-child yoga: Dads can also attend this session.
• Tuesday, 11am (ages 18 months to 5 years), The Football Centre, Al Quoz, Dubai; www.coachdxb.com.
Read more: 11 family-friendly activities to try
Hit the gym
Many gyms now offer crèches supervised by trained staff, which allows you to enjoy your workout knowing your children are being well cared for and having fun.
The Playground: Fit Republik in Dubai Sports City recently launched The Playground, a supervised play area for ages 1 to 4. “The Playground gives parents the chance to unwind and work out while their toddlers are looked after by our trained experts,” says Ali Al Amine, Fit Republik’s founder and managing director.
• Saturday to Thursday, 7am to 8pm; www.fitrepublik.com.
Abu Dhabi Country Club: This popular capital spot also offers a crèche with qualified staff, suitable from 0 months to 7 years.
• Daily, 8am to 9pm; www.adcountryclub.com.
Circuits / boot camp / running
Baby gym: At b2b Fitness in Dubai Motor City, there’s a baby gym on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to coincide with their “Fat Furnace” circuit class at 8.45am and 9.30am. Drop off your child 15 minutes before the class, then pick them up 15 minutes after. Suitable for ages 6 months to 4 years, the baby gym sees the youngsters supervised by fully trained staff from the StepUp dance academy, featuring a range of stimulating activities, including singing and dancing, while you sweat it out.
• Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8.45am and 9.30am, b2b Fitness, Motor City, Dubai; www.b2bfitnessdubai.com.
Boot camp: Join the Bactive boot camp in Dubai with Emma White, a busy mother of two who encourages her clients to bring their children along. After the summer months, the boot camp moves outdoors to include locations in the Meadows and Springs. Personal training for the whole family is also available.
• Sunday, Tuesday and Thursdays 8.30am, Al Manara Football Centre (during May and June; ladies only), Dubai; Sundays and Tuesdays, 6.30pm, Umm Suqeim Park (mixed), Dubai; www.bactive.me.
Urban Energy: Take a circuit, boxing or sculpt class or jog with your stroller with Urban Energy in Dubai, which offers a great range of “Fit Mums” baby-and-toddler-friendly workout options. “The kids get to crawl and socialise with other babies, and as they get more mobile, some will even start to join in. Two-year-olds planking and squatting is a great thing to see,” says instructor Fiona Donald.
• Locations include Kids HQ, Al Barsha, Dubai, and Toddler Town Nursery, Jumeirah, Dubai; www.urbanenergyfitness.com.
Baby-friendly fitness: Stride out with other mothers and their children on a BuggEfit run from Dubai’s Pure Fitness, or join one of their many baby-friendly boot camp and circuit options.
• BuggEfit, Sundays, Barsha Park, Dubai; Wednesdays, Jumeirah Park on Wednesdays; www.purefitnessuae.com.
Surf and rescue: Get in your work out (or roll out your towel) while your son or daughter learns important surf and sea-rescue skills with Pirates Surf Rescue Team. Parents can also volunteer to join in the sessions, which include exposure to other water sports such as surfing, waterskiing and stand-up paddle boarding. Suitable for ages 8 to 19.
• Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4.30pm to 5.30pm; Saturdays, 8.30am to 10am, Kite Beach, Dubai; www.facebook.com/piratessurfdubai.
Swimming: Take your child swimming and get in a few laps of your own while they learn from the experts at Coach Sport, which runs classes across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, from ages 3 months to 4 to 6 years and beyond. Their main location in Abu Dhabi is The Club at Mina Port, with classes also available at various hotel and community pools.
At a burn rate of up to 1,000 calories per hour, bouncing is a serious workout that adults and children alike will enjoy. Enjoy some family time with your children (ages 3 and above) at Bounce in Al Quoz, Dubai. Bounce is also slated to fully open in Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall after Ramadan. Additionally, check out the huge trampoline park in Adventure HQ at Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi.
Flip Out Dubai opens in two weeks, and is the region’s biggest trampoline park, with more than 200 interconnected trampolines and other attractions, close to the Noor Bank Metro station.
• Flip Out, Al Quoz, Dubai; www.facebook.com/FlipOutDubai
Ballroom dancing: Try your hand at learning a new dance with your child. The first professional ballroom dancing institute in Dubai, Dance for You, offers a wide range of classes, from salsa and jive to foxtrot and disco. Once children reach the age of 12, and are comfortable dancing in a couple, parents can partner with them to learn the moves.
• Dance for You, Tecom, Dubai; www.dubaidance.com.
Born to MoveTM: Talise Spa at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai recently launched its Born to MoveTM programme. Developed by group-fitness experts Les Mills, this series of five movement-based programmes caters for ages 2 to 16. Drop off your children for the class, then enjoy your own workout in the gym (or head for a spa treatment).
• Talise Spa, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai; www.talisefitness.com
Ballet: Spend some quality time with your little girl at BodyTree in Abu Dhabi, which offers its Twinkle Toes Ballet class for mothers and daughters (ages 2 to 3). The class involves an introduction to ballet, with opportunities for mums to join in and assist.
• Mondays, 3pm to 3.30pm, and 3.30pm to 4pm, BodyTree Studio, Abu Dhabi; www.bodytreestudio.com.
Ice skating is an excellent, family-friendly way to cool off, and can burn up to 800 calories per hour. Check out Dubai Mall’s Olympic-sized offering, which has lessons for ages 5 years and above, or head to Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, which also boasts an Olympic-sized rink, catering for all ages and abilities.
Skiing is a great whole-body workout, as well as excellent bonding for families. Ski Dubai is the only chilly offering in the UAE, but sand skiing is an outdoor alternative. The giant dunes throughout the Liwa Desert provide the perfect surface for sand boarding.
Nine holes: If you have a budding young golfer in the family, then join them on the greens at one of the many facilities across the UAE. The Montgomerie, Emirates Golf Club and The Creek in Dubai, Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club all have nine-hole par-3 courses accessible for aspiring young players.
Mini-golf: Challenge your kids to a game of mini-golf at Play a Round at Jewels Tower, Dubai Marina; 04 457 0455. Add a new challenge with a round at Glow in the Dark Mini-Golf at Wafi Mall and Arabian Centre in Dubai, and Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi;
There are lots of indoor football options to choose from, and even coaching sessions that parents can get involved in.
Baby and Mini Kicks: Coach Sports runs regular football coaching sessions for children ages 6 months to 4 years at the Football Centre in Dubai. Parental involvement is also necessary for the Baby Kicks 1 (ages 6 to 12 months), Baby Kicks 2 (walking age to 2 years) and Mini Kicks 1 (ages 2 to 3) sessions.
• Football Centre, Al Quoz, Dubai; www.coachdxb.com.
Spanish Soccer School: Check out the Spanish Soccer School at Dubai Sports City, directed by former Real Madrid legend Míchel Salgado. It also offers the popular “Socatots” classes for children from walking age to 5 years.
• Dubai Sports City, Dubai; www.dsc.ae/sports/football.
Pitches: Book a pitch for your young players at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. It has 14 multipurpose pitches in full or half sizes, and also offers coaching for children ages 5 to 16.
• Open daily, 6am to 11pm (floodlit in evenings), Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi; www.zsc.ae.