Looking for a new fitness challenge? Thank the Spartan Race trend for the new range of obstacle courses that can really push your limits, test your stamina and boost your confidence. From slippery pipes and dark tunnels to clambering up walls and swinging from ropes, obstacles are becoming the next big skill to master.
Bounce has locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and is primarily known as a trampoline park, but in recent years it has widened its appeal with the inclusion of X Park. It’s an obstacle course that encompasses total-body exercise, requires agility and coordination and will work every one of your muscles.
X Park was designed in collaboration with the creators of the world’s best parkour and bouldering courses. There are 15 different elements with various routes for both beginners and experts, which require a combination of speed, strength and timing to master.
X Park claims the actions develop core strength, because the impact builds stronger bones and the constant moving promotes cardiovascular endurance, leading to increased fitness and stamina. But it’s not just your body that gets a workout: negotiating the obstacles exercises the brain too, as they require the practice of quick, instinctive decision-making.
OCR Nation brands itself as a community of passionate, like-minded athletes who run obstacle races around the Middle East, Far East and Europe.
At HQ in Al Barsha, Dubai, OCR Nation is a small, purpose-built facility with a wall and apparatus to practice hanging and swinging skills.
While it doesn’t have the full facilities of other, larger OCR training camps, the team has pedigree: Spartan SGX coaches, brand ambassadors, personal trainers and some of the most recognised racers in the Middle East. OCR Nation’s training empowers its athletes both physically and mentally, helping them prepare for any challenge a race will throw at them.
Newly opened on Hudayriyat Island in Abu Dhabi, OCR Park offers eight outdoor gruelling adult obstacles. They include 10 Feet To Freedom and Escape Path, which consists of two walls. Conquering them takes muscle, grit and agility. There is also Drop And Roll, which requires core strength and hip mobility as you crawl your way to the next stage. Another obstacle, Out Ranked, involves keeping your balance on a 10ft slippery quarter pipe.
There are also obstacles for kids, including the wall-climbing challenge Up And Over, The Sargent, which has young athletes swinging on a rope and I See The Light, which involves crawling through a dark tunnel at top speed.
Abu Dhabi’s first indoor OCR gym located at Mina Port boasts the first Deka Fit rig (a workout rig with all the OCR equipment needed to train). The team here are all avid OCR and Spartan race veterans and use the equipment to train themselves and other OCR members. The venue is situated in the upper level of the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal and has everything from an Olympus wall, where you move laterally across an angled wall, to the Spartan Ram, which gives you a maximum workout using just the Ram for all exercises.
When it comes to Obstacle Course Racing, this health and performance company describes its approach as simple yet scientific and geeky yet easy to understand. It uses data, nutrition and wellness tracking plus bespoke training programs to get athletes ready for obstacle course races. Members get access to team track training, cycle rides at Al Qudra, endurance camps and specific OCR and grip classes at InnerFight HQ, located in Studio City, Dubai.
Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen is a journalist with 20 years of experience working in North America and the UAE, much of it as a writer, editor and columnist focusing on the areas of physical and mental wellness...