Sophie Malpass started Super SUP Fit, which provides bespoke and boutique HIIT, pilates and yoga-inspired workouts on the water in Dubai, after working on a cruise ship as a professional dancer.
Five years later, the aim of this British Dubai resident’s SUP classes is to create a fun atmosphere involving effective workouts with balls and bands and a good chance of a nice cool dip. Partnerships with Drift Beach, One&Only Royal Mirage and Fairmont, The Palm as well as a sponsor, Fiji Water, have followed. We caught up with her on dry land to find out why people are doing almost everything on a surfboard these days.
What made you start Super SUP Fit?
I trained as a professional dancer back in London and my first professional dance job was on a cruise ship, which went to Dubai. I fell in love with the place and made some contacts and moved over to freelance as a dancer. I was also studying to be a Pilates instructor and while I was in Greece on holiday I saw someone play about on a SUP board and had the idea of teaching Pilates on a SUP board. The next morning I took some pictures, put together a proposal and started emailing hotels back in Dubai. Slowly but surely I started teaching a yoga and Pilates-inspired class on SUP boards in the sea and then advanced on to pool boards with the HIIT workouts.
Why board workouts though?
I have personally always found going to the gym rather boring, so I wanted to create a class which was truly enjoyable. Just being in and near water really refreshes people’s spirits, so it was my aim to combine beneficial exercises, water and fun to enhance wellbeing and happiness.
What do people need to know before their first session?
That it will get splashy and you will fall in! I really try to make my classes a safe, fun and friendly environment so they just need to come with an open mind, wearing something they don’t mind getting wet, sun cream and of course your smile.
What’s sets SUP apart from other workouts?
My whole brand and idea behind the classes is to really release your inner child, forget your deadlines and have the 40 minutes just for your mind, body and soul to re-light, reboot and refresh. I know how painful exercise can be on a treadmill or just wanting to get it done but I really want to focus on exercise being enjoyable first and foremost. I love the endorphin rush exercise gives you and I believe it is magnified in the water, with the warm sunshine, motivational music along with the stunning beach and views of JBR – it really is a recipe for happiness.
I still struggle with anxiety so it is imperative to me that my clients are always smiling and having fun, starting their day feeling strong and ready for anything that comes their way. Exercise really can help clear your mind so if I can help anyone de-stress while having fun and working out, I have done my job.
Are there any misconceptions about the sport?
From the pictures and videos people may think it’s fairly easy to keep balanced while doing the exercises but working coordination, mind and muscles all at once is challenging. However, the biggest misconception is that your hair will remain dry.
What are the physical benefits?
The HIIT workout consists of four rounds of eight exercises, changing each week. We start by focusing on the individual muscle groups like the core, shoulders and glutes, using resistance bands, and then the last three exercises are super fun and silly: throwing balls to each other whilst wobbling the boards, pluse burpees and jump squat turns to use all the muscle groups previously worked. Just balancing on the boards uses so many tiny muscles that are not usually engaged on land, so you really can feel the burn faster. And I think with balance and the core being the main element, this is always going to benefit you in your everyday life with functional movement and coordination so it’s a win-win really.
What should first-timers do?
Just come with a smile. The class has modifications and is all about having fun. Towels, water and showers are all provided.
SUP Fit classes are Dh120 at Drift Beach One&Only Royal Mirage.