CrossFit gyms are referred to as boxes and Dubai’s Reebok CrossFit LifeSpark was literally just that, a small empty classroom within a school, when they first launched on Valentine’s Day in 2011.
But in the last few years the scene has exploded here in the UAE and the founding expat ‘power couple’ Candice Howe and Benjamin Ford will now be celebrating the club’s third anniversary in a massive open-plan personalised CrossFit space in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), a home away from home for a blossoming CrossFit community comprising of hundreds of CrossFitters from as young as five years old… with ‘community’ being the standout word.
“Since we’ve opened here in JLT we’ve just continued to grow organically and it has really helped us define what LifeSpark is about for us,” explains Howe, a successful Reebok CrossFit athlete who is once again preparing to take on the world when the CrossFit Games Open commences on February 27.
“At LifeSpark we’re about health and longevity, about letting our community thrive, be as healthy as they can be whether that’s chasing their kids, changing a tyre, paddle-boarding at the weekend or trying to be a competitive CrossFitter, we really try to cater to everybody.”
She added: “We have a growing teens and kids programme, we work with one of the local high schools. There’s a big importance placed on functional movement in CrossFit, learning to move your body and having a healthy relationship with your body, which is important from a young age.”
CrossFit LifeSpark encourages the mixing of all skill levels (apprentice, craftsman and competitor, with specific movement standards geared to each group) in each class too to further inspire and unlock potential in others.
They not only encourage all members to try their hand at competing in the CrossFit Games Open for regional and world qualification, amongst other local fitness-related events, but spurring on others in their own personal challenges too (the club notice-board is littered with PBs and other member achievements).
They also have one of the most comprehensive programmes in place for beginners and those intimidated by CrossFit’s competitive and athletic nature, free taster sessions are run twice weekly to a 12-session introductory ‘Essentials Course’.
“We require all those who wish to join our thriving community to first participate in our 12 one hour Essentials Classes in order to learn the fundamentals of CrossFit CrossFit movements, protocols and community,” says Howe.
“In that month you’re in class with the same eight people in a very safe, controlled setting and these people become your peers, your friends by the end. “In that way we’ve built a close-knit community and if somebody doesn’t show up for a couple days, when they’re back their friends will be going ‘oh, where have you been?’
Founded: February 2011
Location: Concorde Tower, Cluster H, Jumeirah Lake Towers
Members: 250 members (including approx. 25 regular kids) and counting – the biggest CrossFit community in the uae
Rates: Class drop-in costs Dh100, while there are various monthly membership packages available priced between Dh500 and Dh900. Children pay Dh300 for a block of five classes, or Dh500 for 10.