Like many before me, I have succumbed to the Abu Dhabi stone. In my first month here, I ate everything – hey, it’s part of my job to try three desserts so you don’t have to – and got taxis everywhere. I ate meal upon meal upon meal, with buratta cheese on top, and the only exercise I did was walking to the office lift, and even that was becoming a chore. Now, three and a half months in, and having partaken in probably more than my fair share of pile-my-plate-up-five-times brunches, a heavy duty exercise class is just what the doctor ordered. Literally.
Bounce Fit offers a “structured exercise regime of 60 minutes that’s supercharged with all the benefits of free jumping”. It’s high-intensity, and the elasticity of the trampoline means it’s low impact on your joints.
According to the Bounce marketing team, NASA experts believe 10 minutes of rebound exercise (jiggling on a trampoline) is better cardiovascular exercise than 33 minutes of running. Presumably, it is also unquantifiably better for your heart than my usual evening off routine – a date on the sofa with some cheddar cheese and episodes of EastEnders (it’s an emotional workout, okay?).
Joining me in trying out this nightmare fun and challenging class is Time Out Abu Dhabi’s Sport & Wellbeing editor, the aptly named Vanessa Fitter. Before the class, we warm up with some jumping practice. The last time I was on a trampoline was just after finishing uni. It was 2am at a party in Wales with a 70-year-old who bounded about like a baby lamb while I awkwardly lolloped like the troll who had just crawled out from under a bridge to eat her.
To my surprise, though, I take to the jumping with gusto, soon getting some air and pulling shapes. Vanessa is more tentative. She is less boing, and more gentle fidget, shifting from one foot to the other and gazing around as if to say “don't hurt me”.
When the class starts for real with some more jumping, I am really going for it. We begin with simple ups and downs, before progressing to knee tucks, pikes, under-leg claps and a bounce-sit-bounce that Vanessa cannot get the hang of because she is “too tall” (hmmm) and every time I turn around she is either standing still or lying down. Fitter by name, quitter by nature.
I, on the other hand, feel like Tigger. I am having the time of my life. “Trampolining is freedom,” I think. “I will do this every day for the rest of my life, which thanks to this will be very, very, very long.” As the toning exercises commence though, I realise I have made a terrible mistake.
I’ve never been particularly good at push-ups, but I can now say nothing compares to doing them on a stretchy surface, while bouncing. We do seemingly endless sets of arm excercises that involve bouncing on all fours, bouncing in plank position, and other painful things that must be doing my muscles wonders, but are not doing a lot for my love for the instructor. “Four, five, six, eight... Oh wait, what comes after six?” he says, as we all continue doing extra sets while he pretends to ponder. He is smiley, lovely, full of energy and great for morale, but as we get into the leg exercises – and specifically the squat jumps – I actively hate him. A promised three sets turns into five, then seven, then ten. Everything hurts. I am seething with anger and in the absence of routines that involve hitting someone, I try to redirect the rising red tide at my behind, to spur me on to continue to destroy it. I am beetroot-faced, sweaty, and can’t imagine the jumping ever ending or the room staying still.
“Trampolining is pain,” I think.
As I look over at Vanessa, I realise that perhaps playing the long game was the best idea after all. She looks basically the same as when we came in: Fitter by name, smarter by nature.
I have almost never been happier to start stretching. “Take 30 seconds to catch your breath” was all I needed to appreciate life again and as my body flooded with post-workout euphoria, I am now in love with the instructor. If I keep this up, my Abu Dhabi stone will soon be Abu Dhabi toned. But, for now, it is time for a veggie burger.
Dhs80 (per class). Bounce, Marina Mall, www.bounce.ae (04 321 1400).
Four more unlikely indoor adventures
Flip Out Glasgow
Situated in an iconic Glasgow building, this is the biggest trampoline arena in the world. It boasts a whopping 63,000 square feet of trampolines as well as a ninja warrior arena offering stunts and climbing challenges and space for parkour training. Just don’t try any of it on a full stomach.
Rutherglen, Glasgow, UK (+44 141 406 1600).
At a towering 121 feet, the Excalibur at the Bjoeks centre in Groningen, The Netherlands, is one of the tallest climbing walls in the world. What makes scaling this outdoor stand-alone spire an extra challenge, though, is a sleek curve that creates an artificial overhang like you might find on a real peak.
Groningen, The Netherlands (+31 50 549 1230).
The Mall of the Emirates still boasts the world’s largest indoor ski resort, adding to our neighbour’s large collection of biggest, tallest, etc. It measures 22,500 square feet and features a plethora of activities, including a giant indoor ball run for kids.
Mall of the Emirates, Dubai (800 386).
This place has the largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel in the world. It’s 5.2 metres across and a great place to try free falling before you take the real-life plunge. Fly-In took the record in 2015 from previous holder, Inflight Dubai (of course).
Gace-Hollogne, Belgium (+32 4 225 99 60).