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How to Train Like a Victoria’s Secret Model in the Middle East

Photo: Instagram/@victoriassecretsport

Photo: Instagram/@victoriassecretsport

A few weeks back, ahead of the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show television premiere tonight, I started a #TrainLikeAnAngel fitness challenge. I researched the different types of workouts the Angels favor (there’s even an Instagram page dedicated to their training) and incorporated their fitness routines into my own. Read on to find out how to train like a Victoria’s Secret Angel in the Middle East.

Boxing

I’ve never thought of myself as a boxer, but seeing how Adriana Lima is a huge fan (she actually calls it her passion), I signed up. My trainer Roy Gumbs is an ex-professional boxer from the UK and trains people of all levels at The Warehouse Gym in Al Quoz, Dubai.

Champion Boxer Roy Gumbs in his heyday

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The Warehouse Gym has a boxing section that includes a boxing ring and several punching bags. The hour and a half session began with an intense warm-up that’s geared towards building strength and endurance, and to help enhance a boxer’s movements—running forward, sideways, and backwards on the treadmill, rowing with side twists, high kicks, jump squats, and lunges. Then, the boxing gloves went on and we entered the ring to work through punching combinations. Gumbs used an interval timer that told us when to start and stop. After several rounds and a lot of sweat, we left the ring to work with the punching bags, followed by skipping (my least favorite), abdominal exercise, and finally, stretching. By the end, I literally could not lift my arms above my shoulders.

Punching combinations

I enjoyed boxing with Gumbs; it was an intense full body workout and a great way to tone up my arms. As for the cost, it’s reasonable as he encourages and pushes you to give 110% through the entire session. You’ll be working at your maximum capacity for 1.5 hours. If you need proof, weigh in pre and post session—I lost around 1kg each time from all of the sweat.

Cost: AED/SAR 2,400 for 10 sessions (female); AED/SAR 2,750 (men)
Victoria’s Secret Catwalk Ready: 5/5

Aerial Yoga

Photo: Instagram/@gypsyfitdxb

Photo: Instagram/@gypsyfitdxb

Victoria’s Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel enjoys defying gravity with aerial yoga. A typical aerial yoga class consists of acrobatic, yoga, Pilates, and dance moves using a hammock suspended a few feet above the ground. I took a lesson at the Body Language Gym located at Al Barari. Yogini Anchal Pilani teaches Tuesdays at 6pm. The beautiful greenery seen through the glass windows of the studio will have you feeling like you’re hanging upside down in a tropical rainforest. Aerial yoga is fun and a great way to release your inner Cirque du Soleil trapeze artist.

Cost: AED/SAR 80 per class
Victoria’s Secret Catwalk Ready: 3/5

TRX

TRX is suspension training using only your body weight. It was developed by the Navy SEALs and helps develop strength, balance, and core stability. TRX is popular with several Victoria’s Secret Angels, including Izabel Goulart and Alessandra Ambrosio. I tried the outdoor TRX class at Talise Fitness located at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The class was fully booked and as I was new to TRX, I felt that I needed more instructions from the trainer. I stayed after class and asked the trainer to show me the basics. Now, I’m hooked on TRX. I love the efficiency—all you need are the two straps, your body weight, and something to anchor onto.

Cost: AED/SAR 150 for non-members, free for Talise Fitness members
Victoria’s Secret Catwalk Ready: 4/5

Classic Pilates (The Cadillac Machine) One of Devon Windsor’s most popular Instagram posts showcases the blond beauty in an upside-down half split on the Cadillac—a piece of Pilates equipment developed by Joseph Pilates. I visited Classical Pilates guru Susanna Foustok at her modern studio Pure Pilates in Dubai, where she took me through several fluid and controlled moves on the Cadillac that strengthen and elongate the muscles in my arms and legs. The Cadillac can look intimidating at first, but once I was guided into position, I gained my confidence and enjoyed all the fun and challenging moves this machine has to offer.

Photo: Instagram/@gypsyfitdxb

Photo: Instagram/@gypsyfitdxb

Cost: AED/SAR 150 (group class); AED/SAR 250 (private) per session
Victoria’s Secret Catwalk Ready: 4/5

Barre

Angel Alessandra Ambrosio is a regular at Physique 57 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. I took a Physique 57 barre class at its newest location in Al Thanya Mall (above Waitrose in Umm Suqeim), which consisted of a 57-minute full body workout that combines cardio, strength training, and stretching. I found the class challenging, especially for the lower body—expect to feel the burn. A number of props are used, including the ballet bar, a ball, rubber bands, as well as a range of different hand weights for arm movements. They guarantee visible results in eight workouts—perhaps my next challenge?

Photo: Instagram/@gypsyfitdxb

Photo: Instagram/@gypsyfitdxb

Cost: AED/SAR 130 for a drop-in class
Victoria’s Secret Catwalk Ready: 5/5

Cardio Reformer Pilates

Georgia Fowler is a regular at Brooklyn Body Burn, which follows the basics of a cardio reformer Pilates workout. The idea is to keep constant tension on the muscles for 1-2 minutes so that it sculpts long, lean muscles. In Dubai, Mojo Pilates instructor Lashley Pulsipher teaches the MFX method developed by Matt Field (who has trained Victoria’s Secret models). The movements may be slow and controlled, but I had sore muscles the next day.

Cost: First class is free, after which AED/SAR 110 for a drop-in class
Victoria’s Secret Catwalk Ready: 5/5

Ballet Class

Photo: Instagram/ @gypsyfitdxb

Photo: Instagram/ @gypsyfitdxb

After seeing this Instagram post of Devon Windsor and Gigi Hadid, I was motivated to try an intermediate ballet class at James and Alex Dance Studios in Dubai Media City. The intermediate class was challenging for me as I haven’t practiced in years. I would have preferred to start with a beginner’s class to jog my memory. I started at the ballet bar and went through positions 1-5 with various combinations. After the warm-up, I moved to the center (no bar) to continue following the instructor through more combinations, which included pliés, relevés, sautés, and ended with grand jetés and pirouettes across the studio in pairs. Ballet is not an intense workout, but I enjoyed its graceful movements, and the leg and footwork, and it was beneficial for my posture.

Cost: AED/SAR 65 (1 hour); AED/SAR 95 (1.5 hours)
Victoria’s Secret Catwalk Ready: 2/5

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