Sport was never my forte at school. Blessed with the coordination and physical prowess of a club-footed, Quaalude-stuffed donkey, I have difficulty getting my car out of the drive without sustaining injuries to myself or immediate surroundings.Combine this with an extreme dislike of ritual humiliation, cold weather and being told what to do, and it’s fair to say that PE lessons were not my happy place. Hockey, netball and cross-country running became the stuff of feverish nightmares, with militant teachers barking orders across icy AstroTurf with the determination of one of Stalin’s Soviet labour camp commanders. “RUN, ELIZABETH!” They would scream, as my swooshy-haired athletic peers sprinted past, apparently oblivious to the numbing winds against our knicker-clad bottoms. (Incidentally, whoever invented royal blue gym knickers deserves public assassination. But that’s a story for another time.) The truth was, I didn’t want to run. I wanted to retreat into a warm building with a hot chocolate and remember what it felt like to have feeling in my fingers and circulation in my legs. Every week there was a standoff. Me against the enemy. And judging by the number of Ds on my PE report card and the string of lunchtime detentions, I would have made an excellent political protestor. I’ve clearly missed a calling in life.
Indoor sports such as dancing and gymnastics fared no more favourably, despite a more enthusiastic approach. Even the ballet classes I took as a small child were unsuccessful. (My parents still laugh when they picture me clodhopping across the stage at dance recitals, tongue thrust out in concentration as I struggled to remember the steps.)
Luckily I’m naturally small, and my twenties passed in a blur of white wine and carb fests- without much demonstrable evidence. (Unless you count the time I woke up with a burger wrapper stuck to the side of my face.)
But, alas. It can’t last forever. Sooner or later I’m going to have to work for my ass. To make the impending doom more manageable, I’ve been researching some alternative forms of exercise for the gym-phobic and chronically lazy.
Here’s my top three choices in Dubai.
“Standing up on a paddleboard in completely flat water?” Ha. Piece of piss, I thought, unwilling to let a lifetime of sporting catastrophe dampen my confidence.
Stand up paddle boarding is ludicrously difficult, sort of like drinking eight vodka jellies then trying to regain your balance on something with an identical consistency. Trying to do yoga positions is actually slightly easier- presumably because you’re closer to the water and less likely to topple into the sea with the grace of a flailing manatee. Technicalities aside, it’s a more hardcore workout than a regular yoga session and you can feel the effect on your thighs after one session. And it’s infinitely preferable to the Bikram option, which seems to involve contorting your body into mollusc-like positions for 90-minutes, drenched in a bath of your own sweat.
Follow updates on the SUP yoga Facebook page for details on when they’ll be starting again.
Surprisingly, pole dancing turned out to be one of the few forms of movement for which I’ve displayed any form of natural flair. It’s funny, not as difficult as I expected and you get to practice your sexy duck pout in the mirror. (NB: Best to do this when nobody is looking.) Despite being relatively graceful when my body is wrapped around a large, hard, phallic-shaped object (a fact we should probably gloss over), my concentration face was another story. Much like Year 2 ballet class, I was unable to prevent the constipated goose expression, successfully rendering myself the world’s least sexy pole dancer. Far more entertaining than your standard Zumba class (for which coordination is not just an advantage but a necessity), I highly recommend pole dancing as a way to tone up. Expect to find bruises the next day.
Classes are AED 100 at Polercise.
Trampolining was one of the few sports I enjoyed at school. Until Year 10, when PE lessons suddenly became co-ed and the boys used the sessions to offer an in-depth analysis on every girl’s breasts. (Despite being hyper-aware of your non-existent 14-year-old boobs, it’s always nice to have it clarified with helpful comments such as “OY you need to grow a pair of tits!”) Armed with specially branded Bounce socks, a bottle of water and at least 12 times more breast tissue than I had 15 years ago, I headed down to Bounce to sample its jumpy delights. On that afternoon I learnt three things: 1.) We were the only people over the age of 10. 2.) Trampolining is much more exhausting than it was when you were below the age of 10. 3.) Having a reasonably well-developed pair of mammories isn’t the advantage I thought it might be in high school. Unless you enjoy having weird strangers monitor your attempts at backdrops. Perverts aside, it’s great exercise and worth the effort of battling through Al Quoz.
Sessions start at AED 80 and can be booked on the Bounce website.