The Effect of Fitness First on Yoga in The Old Town Dubai


Not so long, but until June this year, Hayya Clubs in Dubai were managed by Emaar. Most of Emaar buildings have new and well equipped facilities. For example, the Burj Views Residences that consist of more than 700 apartments, has two high-ceiling spacious gyms and 2 swimming pools. The service and maintenance that Emaar provides is good. Almost all the time everything works and the security and life guards are present. In addition, all of these extras are offered to the residents absolutely free of charge.

However, this is not the case when it comes to the residents of the Old Town, where property and rental prices are higher than these at the Burj Views due to the closer proximity of 800 meters to the Emaar Boulevard. The Old Town residents are given one small gym and 3 not large either swimming pools. Swimming is still free of charge, as long as you live in the buildings around, but to use the fitness facilities has always been only a paid option.

Feeling pampered usually comes with a price tag, and in Dubai one can see a large variety of numbers on it.

So, back to the Old Town residents and their health club: since few months ago their chances to enjoy some of the facilities at the complex they inhabit got even slimmer. Why? Due to a change of of management strategy, Emaar signed a memorandum of understanding with Fitness First and handed the management of the Hayya Clubs to that company.

The Hayya Club in the Old Town was never crowded in the past. The most attended activities there were the yoga classes. During the past few years,  yoga became so popular that the number of classes skyrocketed to 3 or 4 per day, 4 or 5 days a week. Sometimes, yoga enthusiasts in the beautifully designed studio were so many, that they hardly found space. This situation was attributed to the benefits of yoga to your wellbeing, the skillful instructor and the very reasonable price of the sessions. An individual pass for the yoga use to cost 45 Dhs while a package of 12 sessions was priced at 450 Dhs. Don’t think it is impossible, you read it right! A session of yoga was 37.5 Dhs when yo ubuy a package od 12 until June 2012.

Well, these was in the good old days, when the weather was not so hot and prices in Dubai were not so high. Now, after the summer holiday, things changed dramatically. It is not sure yet if this happened for good or for bad, but it is a fact.

Today, at Hayya Club in the Old Town the beautifully equipped studio remains the same. The yoga instructor is also the same, but he runs fewer yoga sessions for even fewer yoga enthusiasts. Now the price for a package of 12 yoga lessons is nearly 800 Dhs, while you can join an individual session only with a daily pass to the complete facility that costs 100 Dhs.

Now, the spirit at Hayya Club in the Old Town is also different. Once friendly staff who was greeting visitors with warm smiles is replaced by business looking like, polite, but seriously faced customer service staff. There is also a security gate just few meters away of the main entrance that has the purpose to prevent anyone who didn’t pay from entering and give a superior feeling to those who already paid the fees.

Most probably, newcomers to Dubai will not question, but pay the new price for yoga sessions at the Fitness First Hayya Club. Long-time residents of the Old Town, on the other hand, are free to wonder why in just few months the price for their yoga activities nearly doubled. We are talking here about 100% increase!

However, they still have the free option to train alone at home or elsewhere where, where consumerism had not yet spread up to such extend.


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