Working Out in the UAE

Fit women explain why their emirate is the best when it comes to practising the activities they love
Johanna Michalina Vorreiter
Johanna Michalina Vorreiter
Sharon Hall
Sharon Hall
Rebecca Rendell
Rebecca Rendell
Guida Verschut
Guida Verschut
Tatyana Khan
Tatyana Khan
Amal Haidar
Amal Haidar

Fujairah: Diving
The only emirate with a coastline on the gulf of oman. Both novice and advanced dive enthusiasts are rewarded with munificent treats in these warm clear waters. The rugged mountainous approach to fujairah belies its bright blue waters below teeming with fish. At snoopy island you’ll find corals, anemones, morays, barracuda and the odd reef shark. Dibba rock, meanwhile, is the place to spy turtles and goby while inchcape is a fascinating wreck dive. Shark island throws up fish in a myriad of colours while the nearby coral garden is a favourite haunt for the uae’s advanced divers.

Johanna Michalina Vorreiter
I’ve always loved the water and interacting with underwater creatures is amazing. It’s so peaceful down there. Diving around Fujairah is special as there are so many great spots really close to the land meaning you don’t have to travel for ages on a hot boat – Dibba rock is only 800 metres away from the Freestyle divers base (freestyledivers.com).

I love the thrill of diving: you never know what you will see. The weather conditions also make every dive different. Night dives are especially thrilling – even after more than a 150 dives, my adrenaline still pumps – while deep dives of 30m plus show me how little we are compared to the big ocean. You just have to rely on your skills, knowledge and gear. Underwater you have to work on your body position – the more streamlined and horizontal you are the better. You work your legs and core a lot, especially when you have to swim against the current. And you work your arm and back muscles carrying the scuba gear which weighs up to 15kg.

Diving is a great activity if you have a hectic lifestyle and just want to chill out. Plus it’s a fantastic way to meet new people – it’s a very sociable sport.”

Abu Dhabi: Golf
Golfers in Abu Dhabi are truly spoilt with the number of world-class courses on offer in the capital. Aside from the Abu Dhabi Golf club, the current host of the European tour Abu Dhabi championship, and Al Ghazal golf club, the capital’s only 18-hole full-sand par 71 course with top-of-the-range teaching technology, yas links Abu Dhabi, the uae’s newest golf course designed by Kyle Phillips, was recently crowned best sporting club in Abu Dhabi at Ahlan’s 2011 best in Abu Dhabi awards.

Sharon Hall
I started playing golf in 2005 when we moved from Dubai to Abu Dhabi because, quite honestly, I was bored. I am delighted I made this decision because golf is such a wonderful sport to play. I have also introduced my children to the game and they are doing very well.

I play about three times a week and love the challenge and I like the fact that every hole is different. Unlike any other sport I can go to a new golf course and see a completely new playing surface. Yas Links in Abu Dhabi (yaslinks.com) is scenically breathtaking and challenging at the same time. The last four holes compare with any golf course in the world. The course is always in excellent condition and I enjoy playing Yas Links every time I tee off.

I also try to walk as much as possible but during the summer months it is too hot. I go to the gym regularly and keep fit that way. I find that my gym sessions help me both physically and mentally while playing a round of golf.”

Umm Al Quwain: Kayaking
With its flourishing green coastal mangroves lining the shores of the persian gulf, Umm Al Quwain’s lagoons make for scenic kayaking spots. The smallest emirate in the uae, with a land area of just 800 square kilometres, its land size does not limit its water-based activities. In its extensive calm waters surrounding desert islands, kayakers can also benefit from the extra pleasure of spotting seabirds, flying fish, reef sharks, insects, pink flamingos and turtles.

Rebecca Rendell
As an avid nature lover, sea-kayaking in the UAE is great for wildlife watching. The sea turtles are a true highlight, even if you don’t see them you hear them nearby, taking a huge breath before disappearing again. I really recommend sunset or early morning for perfect paddling. I kayak to keep in shape whilst enjoying the outdoors. It’s a calm sport on UAE coastlines, but it’s a great stamina builder.

I first kayaked at a very young age, on an icy Welsh reservoir in a home-made fibre-glass boat built by my uncle. Now I’m married to an outdoor pursuits instructor, so have always felt inspired to paddle.” If you want to try kayaking in Umm Al Quwain see noukhada.ae

Ras Al Khaimah: Rock Climbing
Ras Khaimah mountains offer the most amount of climbing routes in the uae with plenty more routes still under development. Here you’ll find big boulders as well as sport climbs and a variety of traditional routes of up to 300m. The infrastructure in rak makes rock climbing very accessible with almost all routes reachable by a twowheel drive car.

Guida Verschut
I think rock climbing is the best sport you can do as you are using all your muscles. I like the fact that it is not about speed but more about efficiency, flexibility, being focused and of course strength. There are a lot of elements which makes rock climbing a great sport. It is challenging; you set your own personal goal and it is not about competition. It’s fun; every climb is a puzzle waiting to be solved and most times you find yourself in great outdoor areas away from the traffic and hustle and bustle. When I was young I’d spend every summer holiday with family in Switzerland camping and hiking. That is when the love for the mountains started. Later I did some mountaineering courses which taught me to go safely over the snow and ice (Switzerland has the longest glacier of Europe). But only when I met my husband did I start to go rock climbing. As an experienced mountaineering instructor and passionate rock climber I’ve learned a lot from him.” To climb in the UAE see globalclimbing.com

Dubai: Running
Sure, you can run on your own, but if you’re looking to improve your technique and benefit from the camaraderie of other like-minded athletes, nike+ free running club Dubai offers running coaching, providing training for both novices and advanced runners. It’s a great way to soak up the buzzing city’s ever-changing sights.

Tatyana Khan
Running is one of the best cardio exercises if practiced regularly, and is a great addition to weight training. It’s perfect for a little ‘me’ time after a hard working day.

After two years of running alone I found it became a boring routine, so, after hearing about Nike Middle East Running Club (facebook.com/ NikeRunningMiddleEast), I decided to join for a change of scenery. Running with the club is a great way to motivate yourself and meet other motivated people. I also like the fact that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and small body-weights exercises are a part of Nike’s bi-weekly sessions. As running in Dubai is very seasonal, you should definitely enjoy it outdoors while the weather allows. Plus, it is relatively safe to run alone here.

Fitness combined with clean eating - namely no processed foods - is my lifestyle. Four gym sessions per week plus two to three cardio exercises are a must for me. I am not afraid to get bulky as a woman’s body is designed differently from a man’s. I never skip breakfast and I make sure that I always eat five-six small meals per day. This speeds up my metabolism and helps to stop cravings for chocolate and pastries.”

Sharjah: Basketball
Sharjah ladies club is doing its utmost to encourage the development of women’s sports in the community. Through the women sports department (wsd), they discover and nurture local talent to compete in local, Arab and international tournaments. With the support and sponsorship of hh Sheikha Jawahar Bint Mohammad al Gasimi, the uae basketball team was founded in 1994, and the driven team has won several gulf and local competitions.

Amal Haidar
I’ve been playing for nine years now – my family is quite sporty as a whole. Basketball has helped me to change some bad habits such as sleeping late and eating junk food. Now I use my free time to build a healthy body and play four times a week.

Sharjah Ladies Club (slc.ae) has privacy for women and is a really convenient as you can do everything in one place. As a player I can use all the facilities of the ladies club for half the price. Sharjah on a whole is a peaceful city in which to live.”