It’s time to bite the bullet and just do it. Here are your reasons: you ate too much at the iftar buffets. You need to shape up before beach season gets underway. And uhhh, its good for you. Abu Dhabi has gyms for body builders, cardio freaks, slimmers, exercise shirkers, and show-offs, so whatever category you fall into, you’ll find something to suit here. Now just download some upbeat tracks onto your iPod and get going.
Abu Dhabi Country Club
This sports complex has everything going for it - a polished, leisurely atmopshere, state-of-the-art equipment, and surprisingly low rates – for the ladies at least. When you sign up, they throw in a free health screen, fitness assessment, personalized programme and two personal training sessions to get you off to a good start.
Rates: Dhs5000 for annual membership for women and Dhs10,000 for men.
Best feature: There are (believe it or not) spacious green grounds if you fancy taking a stroll to cool down after your workout. ‘Country Club’ might be stretching it, but it’s the closest you’ll get in the capital
Opening hours: 7am-11pm
Al Saada street (02 657 7777).
Al Wahda Health Club
The largest health club in the city (including a 2700 sqm spa), swimming pool and a supersized gym equipped with top-of-the-line Technogym aerobic and weight training machines. Staff are refreshingly helpful here too.
Rates: Dhs14,000 for annual membership (with 35 per cent off until the end of September)
Best feature: Their fitness classes are a little on the expensive side, but the price includes access to the sauna, stream room and Jacuzzi, even if you’re not a member. Bonus!
Opening hours: 6am-11pm
Grand Millennium Abu Dhabi (02 495 3831).
Armed Forces Officers Club
As you’d expect of a military complex, Afoc’s fitness centre is a macho domain, where men lift weights the size of buses and sweat like Niagara Falls. But don’t be intimidated, everyone’s friendly for the most part. Still, best leave the Lycra shorts at home.
Rates: Dhs6,000 annual membership for men or women; includes access to the swimming pool
Best feature: What do Eamonn Holmes and Cheryl Cole have in common? Well, extremely little, except that they’re both fans of Hypoxi – a high-tech training system that targets your ‘problem areas’ for a more efficient workout. For men, this involves stepping into a wetsuit-like one-piece that increases pressure around your belly, making your time on the treadmill more efficient. For ladies, the suit squeezes the bum and thighs, helping you shift the wobble while you pedal. Afoc is one of very few places in the city to offer this celebrity-approved technology, available to members for an additional fee. Strap in.
Opening hours: 10am-1am
Afoc (02 4415 900).
Bodylines at Beach Rotana
With more equipment than most, you’ll seldom find yourself waiting in line at this beachfront gym. And even if there’s someone hogging your bench, you can always take the opportunity to pick up some training tips from the staff, who are some of the friendliest we’ve ever encountered.
Rates: Annual membership costs Dhs12,000 for men and Dhs8,400 for women. Plus Dhs950 joining fee.
Best feature: With a lush view of the Arabian sea to check out while you’re exercising, you ought to emerge feeling tranquil as well as trim. And if not, there’s even special massage rates for members.
Opening hours: 6am-11pm.
Beach Rotana, Tourist Club Area (02 697 9000).
Haddins Fitness Centre
A very social gym in Zayed Sports City, Haddin’s Gym is known for its varied training programs and activities, as well as top-notch equipment.
Rates: Haddins offer five tiers of membership, but basic yearly access is Dhs3,360
Best feature: A regular Corporate Contender boxing program, which provides intensive specialist training over a three month period, culminating a fight night where you get to put all your newfound skills to the test.
Opening hours: 6am-11pm weekends and 8am-10pm throughout the whole week
Haddin’s, Zayed Sports City (02 403 4200).
Bodylines at Khalidiya Rotana
Located in one of the newest hotels in the city, this rather slick gymnasium has everything from cable machines and free weights to cardiovascular equipment. The gym has soothing views of the pool and beach area outside – perfect motivation if you’re planning on rewarding yourself with a lie down in the sun after your session.
Rates: Off-peak (silver) annual membership costs Dhs5,500 for women and Dhs7,500 for men.
Best feature: A highly focused personal training program covers everything from workout technique, diet and nutrition advice and ongoing progress checks.
Opening hours: 6am-10pm
Khalidiyah Palace Rayhaan by Rotana (02 657 0000).
There are two branches of this popular gym, but we prefer the Muroor Road venue (the other is a little on the grubby side). There’s an easy-going atmosphere, plenty of equipment available and a pool, steam room, sauna and massage services available. Go early in the morning if you don’t want to wait around for equipment.
Rates: Dhs3000 for single annual membership
Best feature: Membership fees include a complete body assessment and monthly checks, where the fitness instructors make sure you’re making progress and hitting your targets
Opening hours: 9am-midnight women-only, 12.30-midnight men-only
2nd Floor Middle East Specialized Medical Center Clinic Building, Muroor Road (02 445 9542).
Don’t be put off by the terrifying portraits of barrel-chested bodybuilders in the entrance – this somewhat retro iron-pumping spot is pleased to take on members of all physiques. Sure, the facilities may not be the most modern, but you can’t argue with the price.
Rates: Annual membership costs Dhs2,500 (male), Dhs3,800 (female).
Best feature: For men at least, Rock offers one of the cheapest workouts in town, and with plenty of ripped regulars strolling about, you ought to feel sufficient motivation to get your money’s worth.
Opening hours: 9am-1am
Corner of Hamdan and Najda Street (02 677 1010).
Hiltonia Health Club
This waterfront spot packs in all the cardio and weights equipment you’ll need for a comprehensive work out, while also laying on enough room to stretch out and cool down before and after. The club also boasts a nifty machine that calculates your BMI and identifies your fattiest regions, so you can plan an effective attack on the flab before you’ve even put your trainers on.
Rates: An annual Dhs11,000 (male), Dhs7,700 (female)
Best feature: The main gym aside, Hiltonia also offers one of the most comprehensive class packages of anywhere in town – the latest additions to the schedule are capoeira (a Brazilian dance-slash-martial art) and kickboxing.
Opening hours: 6am-10pm.
Opposite Hilton Abu Dhabi (02 681 1900).
This worldwide chain gym is an award winning brand, hailing right from Venice Beach, California. The vibe may be a tad different here (less oiled-up meatheads for a start), but you’ll find all the same work out basics – nothing fancy, just weights, bikes, treadmills and crosstrainers. Enough stuff to get you in shape, in other words
Rates: Dhs3,950 (includes sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room and discounts for fitness classes)
Best feature: The male and female sections of the gym are completely separate so there’s no chance whatsoever of either getting leered at, or getting distracted.
Opening hours: 6am-12midnight
Khalidiya Road (02 667 5779).