No more being jealous of Dubai. These days, there are so many homegrown Abu Dhabi gyms that residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to where to work out. Whether you like boxing, RPM or CrossFit, if you want something for both men and women, the capital is exploding with made-in-the-UAE options. Here are some of our favorites.
This brand-new gym at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr has beach access, a beautiful view of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and all the CrossFit, functional fitness, boxing and cardio toys you’d ever want. There are daily Les Mills classes taught by some of Abu Dhabi’s favourite instructors, as well as V Zen Yoga, V Fit Pilates and V Fit Core sessions. There’s a fully private, well-stocked ladies-only gym with classes too. This 1,400 square foot space is Abu Dhabi’s next level hotel gym of the moment. Drop-in classes are Dh60; memberships start from Dh6,000 for a single.
The extras: Volt offers two free hours of child care with every visit, rain showers and a steam room in their locker facilities and a coffee and juice bar at the entrance. Parking is free and plentiful.
Bodyism – Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
If you want a nicer workout – one that will be tough and effective at the same time – then Bodyism is for you. This British import combines a luxury gym, yoga and Pilates with its own brand of workouts, whether it’s personal training or a mix of bodyweight and weight-bearing classes, each designed to strengthen and align the body without causing unnecessary stress. Open daily with classes starting from 6am. Single classes from Dh80; individual Bodyism memberships from Dh21,000 annually, including hotel beach and pool access and other discounts.
The extras: There is an onsite Bodyism cafe, featuring healthy vegan smoothies, dishes and snacks. Showers and changing rooms are five-star; parking is plentiful and free.
MProve Fitness – Al Maqta
Emirati owner (and Etihad pilot) Mohammed Al Tamimi opened the capital’s first CrossFit box years ago, quickly moving to launch the capital’s first warehouse gym in 2015, leading the current gym explosion. There’s tons of graffiti and a competitive but welcoming atmosphere. MProve offers a mix of kickboxing, calisthenics, boxing and CrossFit classes, with weekday opening times of 6am to 11.30pm. There’s a fully-equipped ladies-only gym too, and several instructors are international CrossFit competitors. Drop-in classes are Dh120; monthly memberships are Dh1,200.
The extras: Steroid Cafe is right next door and the changing rooms are modern, bright and roomy. Parking is free and plentiful.
Primal Gym – Reem Island
This Reem Island gym literally does have everything you could possibly need: CrossFit, strength, a variety of martial arts including MMA, Brazilian jujitsu, Muay Thai and boxing, as well as CrossFit, cycling and a variety of other classes and a huge gym. There is also a full roster of ladies-only classes. The only thing we might criticize is their hard-to-navigate website. It’s also very reasonable: an unlimited membership with fitness classes is Dh600.
The extras: The change rooms are nice (if a little far away); parking is scant and Dh5 per hour There’s a smoothie bar and cafe.
Haddins – Zayed Sports City
Haddins really is one of the original in Abu Dhabi gyms, the first functional fitness center in the capital when it was established in 2010 by Michael Haddin. This no-nonsense gym is about WODs, boxing and a fun sense of community. Expect to be out-of-doors regularly, even in the hot weather. Hour-long classes run weekdays starting from 6am into the evening; weekends have a light schedule. From Dh85 per class and Dh900 for a month of unlimited classes.
The extras: Showers are a bit of a walk in the International Tennis Center at Zayed Sports City; Simple Cafe offers vegan goodness right next door. Parking is plentiful and free
Cobra Fitness – Al Bandar
Don’t expect to be mollycoddled at Cobra Fitness. In fact the atmosphere created by owner Mat Dryden in “the pit” is just what you’d expect from a tattooed team of no-nonsense Muay Thai boxers. There’s a range of tough workouts on offer here, including Muay Thai, Spartacus, TRX and Cobra Cycle. No shoes in the pit. There’s also a room for ladies-only pole fitness. Classes go from 6am through to 8.30pm on weekdays. Drop-ins are from Dh80; unlimited monthly memberships Dh800.
The extras: Parking at Al Bandar is a few dirhams for a workout, although it can be tricky to find at times. A bonus is the on-site Veganized counter, which offers a range of tasty and protein-packed whole food meals, shakes and clean sweet treats.
The Room – Zayed Sports City
Belgian squash champion Peter Pastijn turned to spinning after wrapping his pro career and later launched one of the capital’s most enduring boutique fitness studios, The Room at Sheikh Zayed Sports City. In a city full of RPM by Les Mills, The Room at Zayed Sports City instead offers 60-minute Spinning classes – with 5am options several days a week – that are atmospheric, motivational and often waiting-list only. Yoga, boxing, functional fitness, strength and pilates are among the more than a dozen classes offered on weekdays; five classes on Fridays. Single class Dh75; one month unlimited Dh775.
The extras: The Room has online booking, tons of parking and there is a Costa and Simple Cafe in the same complex. Locker facilities are a short walk away, also inside the complex.
LIFT CrossFit – Mohammed bin Zayed City
When owner Gilbert Dougherty opened in 2018, he insisted his coaches should have at least five years of experience and must add to their knowledge with new training every six months. This CrossFit-only gym, with a sizeable ladies-only box, aims to bring a sense of belonging and community to workouts. It also provides a much-needed fitness focus for Mohammed bin Zayed City. Free intro class, unlimited one-month membership from Dh1,600.
The extras: Brand new, funky lighting and decor and lots of parking.
Abu Dhabi Country Club – Shakbout bin Sultan Street
The city’s original gym is still one of the biggest and best: with a full roster of Les Mills Classes and ladies-only classes and gym. Established in 1999 by the Government of Abu Dhabi, it’s been a social hub ever since. Contact for pricing details.
The extras: Where to start? There’s a bowling alley, pool, nail salon, cafe, squash, tennis and padel courts and much more. Parking is never a problem.
Vogue Fitness – multiple
It’s hard to believe what owners Billy Graham and Patrick Hegarty have accomplished since they opened their first Vogue Fitness, CrossFit Yas, in 2014 at Yas Marina. Vogue has multiple outlets, including Marina Mall, Al Ghadeer and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in the capital, as well as branching out to Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. One reason for their success is results: all it takes is a wander by one of their workouts to see the muscles in action. Another is that Graham and Hegarty were well ahead of a trend that has now firmly taken hold; it was the rugby players’ desire to build a fitness as well as social hub. It’s not all fun and games though; several of the coaches are international CrossFit competitors. Individual classes from Dh105; unlimited from Dh999.
The extras: Being part of that huge fitness community is the most obvious intangible benefit. Most Vogue locations offer ample parking, although things can get tricky at Yas Marina. Boroughs, the Vogue cafe, is on-site there, while amenities are plentiful at the other locations, too.
- Did we miss any Abu Dhabi gyms? Let us know! And also send in your suggestions for best ladies-only gyms, too.
Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.