FitnessAbu Dhabi CrossFit has a new gym called LIFT

Abu Dhabi CrossFit trainer Gilbert Dougherty, the 27-year-old owner of LIFT CrossFit at Abu Dhabi, insists his coaches have at least five years experience.
livehealthy.ae livehealthy.ae6 months ago10 min
LIFT CrossFit

When the runner up for the REPS male personal trainer of the year for 2018 opens a CrossFit gym, you better bet the emphasis is going to be on good coaching. Abu Dhabi CrossFit trainer Gilbert Dougherty, the 27-year-old owner of LIFT CrossFit at Abu Dhabi University in Mohammed bin Zayed City, insists his coaches have at least five years of experience – and add to their knowledge with new coursework, taken at a minimum of every six months.

CrossFit fundamentals

“We saw there was a gap in the market for good coaching, and that’s our [unique selling point], good coaching,” says Dougherty, who is from the UK and came to the UAE in 2012 to work at Fitness First before he moved into private training. “The coaching is the key.”

… And also fun

But all that emphasis on form and function doesn’t come at the expense of something else Dougherty wants to offer his customers: a very good time.

The company’s tagline is, after all, “bringing the party to CrossFit,” and Dougherty wants to build a real sense of belonging and community, as people spend more and more time on getting fit and staying healthy.

“It’s about bringing energy to a class, bringing friendships together,” he says. 

Lift CrossFit offers all the latest amenities in a 180-square-meter space for mixed classes and 150 square meters for ladies-only.

Starting CrossFit

Abu Dhabi CrossFit
Gilbert Dougherty at the opening of LIFT CrossFit/Photo: LIFT CrossFit

Dougherty was always active, participating in Olympic weightlifting before finding CrossFit. But he traces his deep love for fitness back to when he was 19, studying sports science.

After seeing a doctor because he was losing weight and experiencing night sweating, he was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Training got him through a year of treatment, when he was restricted from most activities due to his low immunity.

“I just remember a very key point where I was the sickest I’d been and the only thing I could do was train,” he says. “I wasn’t allowed to do anything else, wasn’t allowed to socialize, wasn’t allowed to work. Literally, my whole day was consumed with ‘Can I go to the gym?’

All these years later Dougherty doesn’t worry much about his health – but he does want others to feel all the benefits of fitness that he has.

“I just kind of fell in love with that feeling,” he says. “And just wanting to help people experience that if they can.”

3 tips to have a great CrossFit class

Gilbert Dougherty, owner of the brand-new LIFT CrossFit, offers some tips. “CrossFIt is all about having fun and training with excellent technique! To make sure you are training safely and getting the most out of your workout, we like you to focus on 3 main things.”

Abs switched on

  • “‘Abs switched on’ is the first thing any Crossfitter should learn and try to master. It’s very simple – imagine you are about to get punched in the stomach by Mike Tyson. Brace your abs or push your tummy out as hard as you can, creating a ‘belt’ of core tension around your spine and core.”

Weight over the mid-foot

  • “Weight over the mid-foot is how we make sure you stay in a safe and powerful position to lift the most weight. Another way to look at it is as if your shoulders have to stay over the tongue of your shoe. From here, when we lift weights, very often we are in the perfect position to generate as much force as our body will allow without losing balance.” 

Cheer on your team

  • “Cheering on your team is what makes LIFT such a fun place to train, no matter if you’re first or last, everyone is there to push each other on and get an epic workout. The fastest guy in the room will then become another coach for the others, then the second and so on, so by the end the last guy has a fan club around him cheering him across the line. No one is allowed to pack up their weight until we are all done.”

Giveaway alert! LIFT is giving a lucky livehealthy.ae reader two free personal training sessions. In these two sessions, you can learn the very basics and be prepped for CrossFit sessions – or to continue privately. To enter for a chance to win, follow livehealthy.ae on Instagram and tag a friend on the LIFT CrossFit giveaway post.

Editor’s note: This article has been amended to reflect that Gilbert Dougherty is the runner up for the REPS male personal trainer of the year for 2018, not the winner.

Featured photo: LIFT CrossFit

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