For those that don’t know, I’m from the UAE. So I was thrilled when I heard that my beloved Physique 57 would be opening their first international location in Dubai. Granted, I am from Abu Dhabi, but Dubai’s only an hour by car, and so on my recent trip back home I made sure to block out some time to check it out. Sure, I wanted my barre-burn but I was also curious to check out how the experience here differed from back in New York. Until relatively recently fitness was not a huge part of the culture in the UAE, the way it is in New York. But things are definitely changing, and especially so in Dubai. Yoga studios are popping up. CrossFit boxes are opening their doors and now there’s even a Flywheel Sports in the house!
The Studio: Physique 57 Dubai is located in Jumeirah, probably my favorite Dubai neighborhood. It’s one flight up on a quiet street. As I got out of my car it felt surreal to see the familiar logo emblazoned so many hundred of miles away!
The staircase leading to the studio was lined by Physique 57 mentions in local and international media..
Familiar white cabinets selling the signature grip socks and apparel…
There are two studios and each is a replica of what you would see in NYC. Wall-to-wall blue carpeting. The hanging light fixtures. For a second I felt like I was at the 72nd street studio.
The Class: I scoured the schedule for Nora Hickman‘s class. Nora was one of my go-to Physique 57 instructors back in NYC and she, along with another popular NYC instructor, Neva Cockrell, moved to Dubai to set up the studio. I got to the studio way in advance and as I a waited for class to start I watched the other clients arrive. The class was designated “ladies-only”-in line with the culture where many women prefer working out minus the men. Magazine editors. Hermes-toting stay-at-home moms. A lady clad in SOUL CYCLE crops. In other words, exactly what you’d expect to see at the NYC studios. Despite being a 10AM class on Monday (middle of the week for Dubai), the class was full. As was the class before and the class right after. The routine was a typical P57 fare with a warm-up, arm series, three sets of thighs, glute work and ending with abs. It was a mixed level class but Nora kept it fast-paced and challenging.
I also met up and chatted with Melissa Matich, the studio manager and Maryam Fattahi Salaam, the owner. Melissa used to teach at the main 57th street studio back when the studio first opened and I reminded her that I had taken her (killer) class back in the day! Maryam was first hit with the p57 bug when she lived in NYC and she has really done a phenomenal job of replicating the same experience for the Dubai ladies (and occasional gents) to enjoy.
Overall: You all know how I feel about Physique 57. It changed my body, inspired my love for fitness and was the inspiration for this blog. I am pumped that it’s now also available near my home-town so I can get my barre fix on trips back home. If you are in Dubai or Abu Dhabi definitely check it out. The Dubai studio is beautiful and has kept itself to the same high standards that the NYC studio has. Also, first class is free. I will definitely be back when I’m home next! Bonus: as you exit the studio you can see the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) on your way out…