If 2020 hasn’t brought you enough obstacles to deal with already, a new gym in Abu Dhabi is promising to throw even more your way. But this time you’ll be pushing yourself to new levels of fitness by swinging on rings and climbing Z-walls sideways.
Desert Shield Fitness isn’t your average gym. Its USP comes from its strong focus on Obstacle Course Race (OCR) training. Inspired by the Spartan style of race training, the original obstacle race founded in 2007, it’s the only gym in the UAE with an indoor Spartan rig, which means you can train on 25 to 30 different obstacles that you would find in an official OCR race.
The methodology is based around training for a purpose. So, if you’ve signed up for a race, a Tough Mudder or a marathon, they can create a program to ensure you are race-ready (‘Be race ready’ is also the gym’s mantra). It doesn’t stop there, though; Desert Shield encourages you to return after your event, so they can continue to help you grow as an athlete for future competitions.
Located inside the capital’s cruise ship terminal at Mina Port, the studio boasts 600 square meters of space for indoor workouts and an extra 250 square meters of outdoor space. But while the physical studio may be new, the Desert Shield concept is not.
Originally a community group started in 2016 by Emirati resident Abdulla Alblooshi and his friends (who wanted to get more out of going to the gym), the group began attending obstacle course races before getting involved with the UAE’s first OCR team. They went on to represent the country at the Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe, USA, from 2017 to 2019.
The Abu Dhabi community, though, has always been at the heart of what they do. They are passionate about encouraging people from all walks of life to join them for classes, from beginners to fitness enthusiasts and children with special needs. Staying true to their philosophy, they run a free session for the community every Saturday morning.
“The focus of Desert Shield is obstacle course racing as well as trying to redefine workouts in a fun, engaging way, in a place that’s inclusive for the whole community,” says Alblooshi. “We have programs for adults and children, and soon we will be launching sessions for people of determination. The classes are created in a way that everyone can engage in fitness.”
Sessions at the gym are varied and not only for those wanting to enter an event. Currently, they offer three main classes, with the first focusing on the three core OCR disciplines: strength, grip and endurance. The second is Deka.Fit, which is a functional fitness program created by Spartan and only available at Desert Shield. It features 10 fitness zones to help you train for a decathlon, for example. .
Last but not least is their signature class, called KettleRam. The class uses only two pieces of equipment – the kettle bell and the Spartan Ram – and offers training in strength and endurance to have you ready for your next OCR.
Classes run every day, with sessions targeting different muscle groups. They’ve also introduced the Legend Series, which has been designed by top elite athlete and US Spartan team member Kevin Donoghue and provides a unique challenge for each participant to wrap up their week’s training.
One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted is the need for people to stay fit and healthy, says Alblooshi.
“It has taught us that now is the time to invest in your health and wellness, as well as the people around you and the community overall,” he adds. “It’s not about me or you, it’s about us. And that’s why we opened.”
- Desert Shield Fitness is located at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, Abu Dhabi, UAE. For more information visit Desertshieldfitness.com, check them out on Instagram, call 02 444 5566 or email [email protected]
Asha Sherwood owns Abu Dhabi Review, an online and social platform that gives you the scoop on everything happening in the capital.