I broke down and joined a gym here. I hadn't gone in the past, much as I enjoy the gym, because I didn't have anyone to watch Thomas and he wasn't quite ready to be left in a childcare group. Now he is ready---more than. Me too. I took him to our local gym, called "Hayya!" Not as in "how're ya doin there sport?" But as in "this is what I yell at my camel to make it move its, um, feet. Move it! Let's go!"
Hayya hayya hayya. It has a certain ring to it, don't you think? We also hear it in a more dignified circumstance during the muezzin, the call to prayer. The fourth line of the call says "Hayya 'ala-salah" hasten (to come) to worship.
The gym itself is one of a chain of three, all in Emirates Hills, our hood. Two are within walking distance and the other is within running distance. The last would be assuming I wanted to take my life into my own hands like that and brave the ongoing and seemingly endless construction between here and there. Which I don't.
I was a bit taken aback at the price of membership. An annual one costs 5,050 AED. ($1,375 USD). Mike was quite wiley and bought me a lifetime membership to Bally's back in the states which, once purchased for about $1000 costs me all of $50 a year. Still less than 6 months at Hayya. But, where else can you go to work out? They know they have you.
The thing is, I actually want a gym, not caring so much about the pretty background to pose against. You know, machines, weights, a place to stretch. Jacuzzi and sweat rooms are great, and the pools are lovely, but mostly I'm there to cause myself pain and exert myself to sweat a lot.
I also like classes. Of course, those are not included and may be purchased at an additional cost.
Yup. They really know they have you.
Childcare is additional too. This I expected, and I had told Thomas that he was going to get to go play with some friends. Big mistake. Not only were there no morning places available in the nursery, it cost again the amount of membership for him to go twice a week in the afternoons.
Excuse me? No wonder women opt for plastic surgery at the drop of a hat here. Apparently it's cheaper than actually getting fit!
Obviously I am a penny pincher, and in that spirit began to look for an alternative form of childcare. Voila! The maid next door, Ethel, was looking for extra work (she being "bored", according to her sir) and look at that, I have a babysitter I don't have to go fetch and bring back in the car for the bargain price of 25 AED ($6.80) an hour. Much, much better.
See? Even in Dubai you don't have to go crazy and spend all the family's hard earned expat funds.
Babysitter securely in place, kid happy, I went to the gym for the first time. First thing I noticed was the prominant sign in the Ladies Changing Room: Do Not Change in the Ladies Changing Room.
Riiiight. Further investigation revealed that you are to change behind locked door in the private stalls. Modesty prevails in the Middle East, even in the changing room.
There is the a general workout room and a smaller "Ladies Only" workout room. Choices, choices. Work out in the smaller Ladies Only gym where the music overwhelms the small space and there are not as many machines or in the bigger general room, with the grunters? Would they question my modesty? Would I be a trollop American sweating with the boys?
Apparently it was fine, no one paid attention to anything but themselves in there. Worked for me. Not the amount of gym I hoped for, at the price, but adequate. Mike came back from working out the other day and said how disappointing it is how much we pay for such a small gym. He really has it worse than I do...as a man he doesn't have the choice between the workout areas.
At the main branch of Hayya there is a lap pool in addition to the decorative ones for lovely mummy and the kidlets to lounge in. They are all outside, thus, after suffering through one workout where I was half blinded by the sunglare, a new purchase of 100% UV blocking goggles.
I was sorry to note that once again I will miss the km swim around the Burj al Arab (that favorite Dubai icon of ours that looks like a saiboat out on its own island---man-made, of course) since we'll be out of the country. Darn I want that T-shirt, and I could use the motivation. Well, maybe we'll end up staying 3 years instead of 2.
It could happen.
Also on that same day when we won't be here is the Mirdif Milers 10 mile race. Darn again. That's a cool medal...it has a camel on it. At least I already have one of those.
You may have noticed, I kinda sorta like camels.
OK, so I love camels. Am obsessed. Will probably need a 12-step camel program. Maybe a quit camels patch?
Back to medals: I have gotten more medals here than in my previous 8 years of running in the states. It's not my running prowess, and it's certainly not due to an easier group to compete with. Hardly---there are world class runners training alongside me, though not for very long, mind you...I eat a lot of sand dust and am A-OK with that!
It's amazing to see them go off to cities all over the world to compete and often bring back real medals, some with Olympic rings on them. My medals are a little more humble to say the least; with almost all the races being 10k or longer, a medal is part of finishing. My collection. Yay.
I feel a little out of place in the gym. On the road everyone is equal. The road is as long for all of us, and the differences are only in gender and effort. In the gym I feel less confident. On the other hand, there is cold water, A/C, and there is little danger of getting run over by some crazy driver, so it's not all bad, that's for sure.
So now you know where I go to move my, um, donkey. Hayya!