x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Women must now pay to train alone at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit

The GoYas ladies-only evenings will now charge a Dh30 entrance fee.

ABU DHABI // Women in the capital will have to pay for their Wednesday workout at Yas Marina Circuit from tonight.

The GoYas ladies-only evenings had provided women a chance to walk, run or cycle around the circuit free of charge.

But from today they will have to pay Dh30 to do so.

Tuesday's TrainYas event, which is open to men and women, will remain free for all.

"We developed GoYas on a Wednesday night to reach out to the UAE female audience," explained Nick McElwee, sales and marketing director at Yas Marina Circuit.

On GoYas night, all male staff are cleared from the premises and restaurants overlooking the track cover their windows.

The idea is to give women who wear the hijab a chance to exercise in more comfortable attire.

"We piloted it for four weeks, not knowing if it would take off as a product," Mr McElwee said.

About 2,000 women attended the four free nights. According to Mr McElwee, about 85 per cent of them were Emiratis.

"But it requires a bit of cash to keep it going with female staffing, lighting and those costs. We'd make more money if we hired it out for a motorsport event but we do want to keep this on the calendar," Mr McElwee said.

The solution, he said, was to charge a Dh30 entry fee. Those who want to take part in any of the additional classes - such as Zumba, Box Fit and Pilates - will pay an additional Dh50. Children under 12 pay Dh15.

Tuesday's TrainYas evenings, which can attract up to 2,000 people a night, will remain free because corporate sponsorship has been sufficient to cover the operating costs, Mr McElwee said.

Unfortunately, the mixed Tuesday event is attended by only a tiny proportion of Emirati women.

"I wear a hijab in mixed company, so it makes it more comfortable when I can exercise with women - especially with the heat," Fatima Al Madani said.

She hoped Yas would keep the ladies' nights going, adding that Dh30 was a fair price to pay once a week.

"I prefer an all-women training night and my friends would feel the same way," the 28-year-old said.

eharnan@thenational.ae