x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

First official Indoorwalking Training Centre opens in Dubai

A knee injury stopped Javier Lanfranchi from playing rugby and he piled on the weight. But a new form of exercise changed his life

Javier Lanfranchi - General Director of the indoorwalking Training Centre. Duncan Chard for The National
Javier Lanfranchi - General Director of the indoorwalking Training Centre. Duncan Chard for The National

There aren’t many countries in the world where walking indoors is taken seriously as a form of physical exercise. But as UAE temperatures reach their annual peak and limit options outside, there is one concept proving cynics wrong.

But this is no ladies-who-lunch gossipy stroll through a mall. In true Dubai style the emirate is now home to the world’s first official Indoorwalking Training Centre.  Its general director Javier Lanfranchi is the best advertisement for the Tecom-based studio, which features rows of stationary, elliptical-style machines with attached walking poles. “I wanted to prove Indoorwalking works before I put my name above the door,” Lanfranchi says. And so he did.

The former rugby player dropped 25 kilos in just four months on a custom-built Indoorwalking programme – the very same one he now offers at the Dubai studio. And the story behind his results, augmented by a warm Argentinian nature, serves only to inspire.“

Life was extremely uncomfortable for me,” says the 42-year-old. “A serious knee injury took me out of the game when I was in my mid-20s and, like many people, from then on my weight became a constant battle.”

Medically signed off from any high-impact exercise including running and field sports, Lanfranchi continued to maintain the diet of a rugby player and started piling on weight, saying he was “in line to win the heart attack lottery”.

“I still had the appetite but wasn’t doing the physical activity to balance it out,” he says. “I became depressed and uninspired and my family life suffered too. I wasn’t the father or husband I wanted to be, but I couldn’t beat it.”

Spain-based Enric Bonilla, who designed the Indoorwalking machine back in 2004, sent one to Lanfranchi one – and it would soon change his life. “I became focused again and started not only to see the weight drop but also my body shape come back,” he says. “I didn’t diet because I don’t like that word, but I improved my nutrition, which really made a difference.”

The Dubai studio is a light, airy room with three rows of walking machines. Eighties tracks jump from the sound system and the idea is to keep moving for an entire 45-minute class, adding resistance to make things more challenging. A combination of positions – hands on upright poles, low bar and outstretched front handle – mean every muscle feels the burn. Lanfranchi, who now owns regional distribution rights with Indoorwalking Middle East, claims one session can burn upwards of 700 calories per workout.

Clients range in age from 20 to 75, with varying degrees of fitness. “I have devised a programme with three types of classes – stamina, strength and aerobic,” he says. “In order to shift the kind of weight I did you would need to combine a change in nutrition with four to five classes a week. That’s it.” Lanfranchi says his 8-year-old son’s artwork truly captures his accomplishments. “He used to draw me as a series of balls, a big one for my body, one for my head and smaller ones for my arms and legs,” he says. “Now he draws me with straight lines and a cape. He calls me his superhero. I’ll take that over fat any day.”

• Class packages start from Dh110 and Indoorwalking personal training starts from Dh250. The Indoorwalking Training Centre is based at the Yassat Hotel Apartments, Sheikh Zayed Road, Tecom, Dubai. For more information call 04 381 8931, email jl@indoorwalking-me.com or visit www.indoorwalking-me.com


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