It’s 7:00 am at a sun-filled gym nestled on the first floor of the Lamborghini building on Sheikh Zayed road, and I’m stretched taut in a forearm side plank, one leg hovering above the ground. In front of me is a rack of dumbbells, which faces off against floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s only two people in the room. Me, a lean-albeit-very-out-of-shape (as I’ll quickly come to find out) gymnasium shunner and my trainer, Sarah, a former Olympian with a body to show for it. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the pile of medicine balls that await me and contemplate making a quick run for it when Sarah says: “Only ten more seconds to go,” and I collapse on my mat.
Welcome to Embody Fitness, a luxury members-only training and health club hailing from London. Boasting a client list of celebrities and professional athletes that other private gym’s can only dream of, Embody, which opened its doors in Dubai earlier this year, was co-founded by James Miller and Sharare Hau, and is praised for its body transformation programs, personal one-on-one training, and state-of-the-art facilities and amenities (including luxurious ESPA products lining the counters of the change rooms.)
Spread across 10,000 square feet, the space is outfitted with reformers, weights, bands, medicine balls, and a lineup of rowing and bicycle machines equipped with built-in monitors multiplied across the floors. Physical and massage therapy sessions take place in private treatment rooms; Meanwhile, a nutritious cafe and bar sits next to the relaxation rooms, so you can enjoy a delicious protein shake after an intense workout.
My reason’s for signing myself up for a long month of planking, lunging, squatting, wielding weights and sweating non-stop after a nearly four-year hiatus from the gym? If I’m being completely honest, sitting for over eight hours at my desk and rejecting my sister’s advances to go to the gym in our apartment left a toll on my body. My limbs withered, and I felt constantly tired no matter how many hours of sleep I got each night. So I decided to sign myself up for one-on-one sessions with professional trainers (I was never going to motivate myself) and see if I could whip my body back into track.
My journey began with a thorough assessment by one of the personal trainers where my fitness level, diet, mobility and sleep habits were strictly gauged. I was then assigned a tailored workout to help me achieve my goal based on the assessment. And according to the results, which included a lower-than-average body fat percentage and glute muscles that are extremely slow to activate, my trainer decided that I would benefit best from sessions that focus heavily on leg-toning and bum-sculpting exercises.
Additionally, I opted for a meal plan, eschewing my regular diet of fried and fatty foods in favor of healthy, nutrition-filled quinoa, tabbouleh, tempered vegetables, and papaya salads from Glam Gourmet— a food delivery service that provides three healthy meals (and a snack) to your doorstep every morning, thus taking out all of the work of measuring portions, grocery shopping and prepping a hearty meal.
When it came to the actual training, I didn’t have to get on a treadmill once— In fact, the gym doesn’t comprise any. Embody focuses strictly on muscle-training and resistance, so each hour-long session includes a lot of weights and body movements. Think: barbell lifting, medicine ball carrying, lunges and lots and lots of squats. Ahead of my first training session, I considered cancelling at least five times. I was exhausted, it was a Friday, and the idea of stepping back into the gym after all those years gave me anxiety. Still, I’d booked in for 6:30am with someone and it was too late to cancel. In my case, that someone was Sarah, who started me off with body stretches before we jumped right into leg workouts in the form of 45 reps on the leg press, and squats. The workout also featured bicep curls, and ab-sculpting planks. Rather than lying on a mat and doing countless sit-ups, my personal trainer had me shifting from one leg to the other, lunging while carrying a medicine ball.
As the sessions continued, I started to notice positive physical and mental changes. After sessions three days a week, each, which targeted a different area of my body, I doubled up in strength, going from lifting 3kg to 6kg in just under two weeks. Thanks to hours of lunging, my balance improved significantly. My lean mass (the amount of weight you carry on your body that isn’t fat) jumped up by 3kg, and my sleep improved, which resulted in more energy throughout the day. And, I actually looked forward to going to the gym. Oh, and I can effortlessly hold a side plank.