With gyms closing in Dubai and residents opting for self-isolation across the UAE, there’s never been a better time to dive into some great at-home workouts. Here are some of the best from pros across the region and beyond.
This physiotherapist-turned-fitness influencer has hundreds of free YouTube videos ready to make your core burn and your heart rate soar. Most of her workouts are equipment free, although there is the option of ordering one of Sabri’s Lean bands to increase the burn. Check out Sabri’s 11-line abs for a crowd favorite. For something a bit more structured, sign up for her 40-day challenge, which includes workouts every day, inspirational messaging and access to a private community-focused Facebook group. Regulars love her medical background and in-depth physio knowledge.
This French-born UAE gal has recently opened a physical studio, the Peach Lab Gym, off Sheikh Zayed Road but she still serves up plenty of free workouts on her Instagram. True to the name, workouts focus on glutes and core. A swipe-through format means you can instantly preview what you’ll be doing. Routines last around five to 10 minutes, making them easy to loop together, and by the end your tush will be burning. For even more derriere routines, check out Peach Lab on Demand (subscriptions from US$9.99 per month).
This duo burst onto the local scene around two years ago and fitness hasn’t been the same since. Join Mike and Vivvian Addo’s incredibly synchronized routines for high intensity workouts that will have you jumping, pulsing, squatting and sweating, all the while wondering just how they manage to stay so in sync. Real-time workouts are available on both YouTube and Instagram and so far they’re entirely free. Get ready for lots of options (the pair have more than 700 routines). Most require no equipment or just dumbbells.
As a yoga and calisthenics coach, Karen Mattar knows her way around headstands, handstands and flexibility and she wants to help you acquire that knowledge. This Dubai-based pro offers workouts in person in Dubai, but she also provides handy ebooks. These feature some 46 yoga videos to guide you on your own zen journey. Workouts range from 20 to 60 minutes, with modifications for beginners. If the Dh184 price tag is too much, Mattar has free sample workouts on her Instagram.
A soccer-loving Irish chap turned Dubai PT, Peter Barron rolls out HIIT workouts with a focus on high-energy movements – perfect for those days when you need to work up a sweat at home. Burpees, jump squats, jumping jacks and more feature in these free routines. Most last around 15 minutes and require no equipment apart from the occasional medicine ball and yoga mat.
A previous international Crossfit athlete and long-time PT, Kirsteen Thain offers free workouts with a dose of wry humor and seasoned expertise. There’s plenty of high-intensity jump challenges involved, great for the pros who want to properly challenge their body while training. But even more useful than her workout routines are Thain’s expert videos, where she sets the record straight on everything from how we’re doing our couches wrong to eating for your height to calorie-counting watches.
If you missed Cassey Ho’s trip to the Dubai Fitness Festival a few years back, don’t worry. You can still take advantage of this cheerful American’s pilates expertise and upbeat attitude with a whole array of free YouTube workouts. Routines include the “10 minute inner thigh slimmer” and “12 minutes to burn fat with low impact cardio.” Plus she does plenty of low-resistance programs perfect for anyone tired of all that jumping around.
You’ve probably heard of The Body Coach thanks to a series of incredibly popular 15-minute cookbooks. Joe Wicks is the guy behind it all and he offers free high-intensity workouts on his YouTube channel. These bodyweight routines are great if you don’t have a lot of space or are a complete beginner. Sessions are 10 to 20 minutes long, with Wicks working out beside you the entire time.
Knowledgeable and approachable, Shona Vertue has worked with everyone from the cast of Wonder Woman through to David Beckham. On her IG feed, this PT serves up resistance-band workouts for the lower body, handstand tips, mobility sessions, exercises for knee issues, and more. All this is mixed with in-depth advice about health and fitness and a hefty dose of no-nonsense positivity.
This massive fitness influencer trains both at home and at the gym, but her IG feed is full of routines you can do without ever stepping outside your door. The sessions include plenty of work for the upper body, which is rather rare in the the female influencer workout community. Try her 10-minute abs for a session that burns, or her more in-depth videos – lunge progressions, for example – to go from beginner to advanced. Cela’s at-home routines occasionally require dumbbells. Want more? Check out her Tone and Sculpt app for workouts plus meal planning.
Once, many years ago, Jessica Olie was a resident of Dubai. Now this flexible yogi has moved back to London, but fans can join her flows from around the world. Expect plenty of handstand and head stand drills, mobility techniques, abs challenges and just general yoga flows. All this is spaced through with plenty of solid workout styles. Fans who like her routines can upgrade with Olie’s paid-for app and yoga mats.
You could spend weeks making your way through all the free workouts on YouTube: there’s everything from fast walking at home to obliques sessions to working out with Navy Seals (we’re partial to the throwback Tae Bo sessions offered by Billy Blanks). And don’t forget to add in a free yoga, pilates or meditation, all the better to keep you calm and carrying on.
Bonus: Worth the spend
No at-home workout list would be complete without mentioning two of the biggies, Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Wells. Both offer their routines on the Sweat App, which includes a free trial followed by a monthly fee (USD10 to 20 dollars). Itsines’s routines are great for at-home working out with no equipment, while Wells has begun offering no-equipment modification tips on her Instagram.
Also incredible is Aaptiv, the audio-based personal trainer platform. This serves up everything from pilates to jogging routines to meditation sessions (US$14.99 per month).
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist. In addition to working as editor-in-chief of Women's Health Middle East and Men's Health Middle East, Danae has written for The Sunday Times, CNN Travel, Dubai Tourism, The Guardian, Afar, Bloomberg and many more. She's based in Dubai and is a trainer at Crank. instagram.com/danaemercer