When it comes to fitness facilities in Dubai, there are carbon copy brand name chains and then there are bespoke boutique joints that really zone in on the individual member rather than massing everyone together on a bank of treadmills.
Set against a backdrop of lush green polo fields, palm trees and strutting peacocks on the Al Awir Road, Desert Palm Retreat’s state-of-the-art Stables Fitness Centre can identify itself among the latter.
Unlike many hotels that get away with simply tacking on a room somewhere stuffed with a few run-of-the-mill exercise machines and some weights, and calling it a gym, Stables isn’t just here for show on a stunning property, and can certainly hold its own.
The bubbly, super fit and highly professional Vanja Zrnic, Fitness Centre Manager, simply says: “We have everything.
“All our gym units are of Technogym’s Kinesis range, which means a machine for the back can actually be used to work other body parts since the machines are designed to allow full range of motion.
“The cardio area has six treadmills, four ellipticals, two bikes, all with internet, TV and more… all the latest technology.”
Indeed, technology is fully integrated in operations here, and Stables not only has multiple iPads and iPods on hand to offer guests looking for a bit more fitness inspiration while working out; they are also bang on trend with the availability of Technogym’s Wellness Key for members – a USB-type device that can be plugged into
Technogym machinery anywhere and records and tracks your personal results, remembers your goals, and even stores specialised workouts assigned to you by your Personal Trainer in his/her absence, among other nifty uses.
If you did need the physical presence of someone to push you through your workout, they have a handful of knowledgeable trainers always on hand in the main gym space offering advice, and who are also bookable for one-on-one time, whether your goal is to lose excess body fat, work on strength and endurance, or simply relieve stress or work on an injury.
They may only have one group class studio on the premises but it is one of the most fully kitted out we’ve ever seen, with everything from RPM bikes and boxing equipment to Pilates accessories and even Technogym’s not-often-seen functional training-focused Arke Line – a mixed bag of diverse and progressive tools, including the Water 8 Ball, Pendulum and Twin Clubs, that offer a variety of virtually endless training options for the bored client seeking more.
In terms of fitness classes, at the moment they offer Body Attack and RPM from the Les Mills fitness programme, Zumba, and a circuit class, of which we are big fans, while Zrnic assures us that yoga and Pilates enthusiasts will soon also be catered for.
Fitball, in particular, is a class we hadn’t heard of before, but it’s slowly gaining popularity amongst female members and residents.
Zrnic added: “Fitball is a workout featuring the stability/Pilates ball and I think ladies really like it because it’s really good for shaping the body.
“It’s 45-50 minutes long and we do many different kinds of exercises with the ball, each one engaging a minimum of 2-3 muscle groups. It’s like Pilates ball work but advanced and is all about stability.”
Some classes are free for members, while others cost a bargain Dh40. Non-members can benefit from classes too for a cost of Dh60 per session.
The icing on the cake at Stables is that they also take things outdoors, members not only being allowed pool access, but also free use of a 1km, 3km and 5km running track which doubles as a mountain biking circuit (they provide the wheels too). There are also two tennis courts and a brand new squash court.
Everything at Stables, down to the luxury male and female changing and shower facilities – they include sauna and steam room – is tastefully done.
A day rate for Stables is priced Dh195 but we have to admit that their one, three, six, and 12-month membership packages are highly tempting for all the perks that come with it – they include a 20 per cent discount each on F&B at the Retreat (for up to four guests at a time), best available room rates and LIME Spa treatments.
“If a person decides to join for one year we can give one month extra complimentary,” adds Zrnic.
It is always a pleasure to visit Desert Palm Retreat for leisure, but if you want an elegant exclusive environment in which to do invigorating workouts also, then Stables Fitness Centre is definitely worth swinging by while you’re there too; it isn’t just a gym, it’s a gem.