From kayaking to fitness workouts: Dubai enriches its offer for the health conscious traveller

From kayaking to fitness workouts: Dubai enriches its offer for the health conscious traveller
By Jane Witherspoon

With its untamed environment and rugged landscape, Hatta is the picture-perfect destination. And this centuries’ old exclave of Dubai also caters for today’s health conscious traveller.

High up in the Hajar mountains you can soak up the history while doing a spot of hiking. There are 32 kilometres of track in the area. More than a dozen possible routes have been mapped out, with four different levels of ability. Kayaking is also on offer on the vast lake next to the Hatta dam.

Fitness expert and Youtube star Lilly Sabri @lillysabri says the walking is an ideal complement to a regular routine.

“I think that when you’re on a holiday you want to make memories as well… so trying different things,” she says. “So, if you’re someone goes to the gym wherever you normally train and in whatever country that might be, it might be nice to try something different. So, getting outside. You certainly couldn’t do this in London where I’m originally from. So, it’s keeping fit and healthy but in a different way.”

Wellness tourism has evolved to become the travel industry’s fastest growing sector – something Dubai is continuing to expand upon and develop.

People are actually zoning in and they realise what’s important is how we feel and how we can impact on those around us
Christian Williams
Fitness Expert

Across town amongst the shimmering Jumeirah Lakes Towers you will find the SMSF Heartfulness Meditation Centre. It’s the only one of its kind in the MENA region and they hold daily meditation classes that attract up to 500 people.

“I think we just forgot where... we’ve been so focused on external gratification... now people are actually zoning in and they realise what’s important on how we feel and how we can impact on those around us,” says fitness expert Christian Williams. “This place in Dubai is not just where people live, it’s a stop off where people go on vacation. So, what we’re doing here in Heartfulness Meditation is just incredible not just for people living here but anyone who is willing to come and travel. And I can just see us moving forwards and I’m just so pleased I came to this centre because it’s free and it’s on every single week.”

“Dubai is growing,'' says Meherish, Regional Director of Heartfulness Meditation. “This place is growing and it will 100% grow because they have this thought process and this positivity in them. So, I’m all for it!”

If high impact is more your thing, look no further than the Dubai Fitness Challenge - where visitors and residents are encouraged to take part in 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days. It’s another example of the city’s commitment to being a wellness destination.

Under the striking Marina skyline over 3000 people came together to work out with “The Body Coach” celebrity trainer Joe Wicks who parachuted in for the event.

“My perception of Dubai was like you know it was great for food and a great place for holidays but there’s a massive gym scene here and they’re like really big on fitness,” says Wicks. “I’ve been invited to loads of gyms, you know really good cross fit and circuit training classes. So, there’s a big culture of people now exercising and I think it’s great that the city is being encouraged together.”

Travellers say there amazed to find so many free events.

“I feel like there’s always some fitness classes going on,” says one visitor. “And there’s so much free classes. Back home in England you pay for everything, so I feel like here because it’s outdoors people want to get involved, it’s sun-shiny so everyone’s always out and about.

With over 12 million overnight visitors in the first three quarters of 2019 Dubai’s sustaining its tourism momentum. It’s known for reinventing itself to meet the needs of the travel market and these days that means making fitness and wellbeing a priority.