How would you fair going toe-to-toe with a boxing legend or a MMA superstar? Well, according to Dubai’s leading fitness gurus, you’ll soon be able to find out – without risking a black eye or two!

    Experts from Les Mills – the world’s largest international provider of group fitness classes – have offered a glimpse into the future of exercise ahead of their much anticipated talk on the digital revolution of the gym at next month’s The Leisure Show Dubai.

    According to the UAE-based team, full-scale, virtual reality work-out immersion is the future – allowing gym buffs to tackle everything from the Tour de France’s toughest peaks to getting the best of champion boxers – all from the relative comfort of the gym.

    Les Mills recently launched the world’s first immersive fitness program – THE TRIP – internationally, with its first location in the Middle East at GFX Indoor Cycling Studio in Dubai’s Business Bay. The cycle-classes, held in a darkened studio with a cinema-scale screen and booming surround-sound, have been taking UAE based cyclists on a virtual journey through digitally-created worlds since July, to sell-out success.

    Speaking ahead of their appearance at September’s three-day exhibition – the only one of its kind in the region dedicated to leisure, sports and resorts – Glen Stollery, Director at Les Mills Middle East, made clear this kind of technology is only the beginning in what promises to be a new-age for fitness and exercise.

    He said: “Group exercise is more popular than ever, but millennials don’t want to be working out in the same way in which their parents did, through traditional step classes, for example.

    “Combining technology and fitness in a way that is in some ways gamifying an exercise class is a radical concept that requires a big investment and entire team of animators. We developed THE TRIP over the course of a year and tested it out in five different clubs across the world before launching it commercially, including here in Dubai. The original concept was to provide a virtual reality (VR) headset, but combined with exercise this was too strenuous for users.

    “You don’t even feel like you’re working out when taking part in THE TRIP. The experience can be intense for some users. People have reported the feeling of dropping or turning whilst remaining static. Recent research by Penn State University revealed that the perceived exertion rate for a TRIP class is much lower than in a traditional cycling class – therefore people are working much harder than they realise and thus getting much more from the session.

    “We’re now planning to integrate the immersive element in to some of the other popular Les Mills programmes. At BODYCOMBAT or GRIT for example, gym goers could find themselves fighting against a digital opponent, or doing a tuck jump to avoid barriers.”

    Dubai’s GFX Indoor Cycling Studio is the first facility in the Middle East and Africa to house the TRIP programme, which takes users on an intense journey cycling through a range of environments, from quiet country fields to busy racecourses.

    Deepak Lalvani, owner of GFX, admitted that the demand for the classes has been unprecedented. He said: “The response to THE TRIP has been overwhelming. We started with five classes a week for the month of August and due to its immense popularity are introducing four additional weekly classes onto our timetable.

    “Guests from all over Dubai and Abu Dhabi are coming to experience this incredible immersive indoor cycling workout. Going forward we are going to launch THE TRIP – 11. This TRIP is named ‘VAI’, which is Samoan for water.

    “We are taking THE TRIP workout to new depths as we head underwater.”

    Les Mills’ Dubai team will unveil a catalogue of proposals for exciting future projects at The Leisure Show, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre, September 18-20, as part of Dubai International Hospitality Week.

    The talk is titled ‘The Future of Fitness: How technology is changing the industry’, and will be held on day two of the annual show.

    Additionally, the firm are also inviting fitness fans to join them across the exhibition’s three-days for their daily participation in The Leisure Show’s ‘The Fit Hub’, where they will be hosting a series of live new HIIT work-out sessions – which are free to attend for show visitors – including their hugely popular GRIT and SPRINT classes.

    Several of the routines will be streamed across Facebook Live in a bid to try and gather as many people as possible from across the city to take part in the workout.


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