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Exclusive: A woman in business flexing her muscles in UAE fitness

A lawyer by profession with an American law firm in London, Dina ElShurafa is the founder of the new Reform Athletica gym concept in Dubai.

With a passion for fitness and in particular the “Reform Method” and TRX based classes, Dina saw an opening for the concept in her native Middle East.

Having experienced the benefits and results from her regular fitness regime and attendance of these classes, she became fascinated with the fitness industry and started exploring the possibility of creating a fitness space where clients could experience the same ‘high’ and results she experienced.

For 3 years, she went on a working holiday world-tour of classes in London, New York Hong Kong and Los Angeles, gathering useful experiences and taking the best of each studio in these cities to turn her concept into a reality in the Middle East hub of Dubai.

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“I’ve been living in London for the past 12 years and it’s a very buoyant capital, with an abundance of studios and gyms, and I have had positive and tangible results with the Reform workout for the past 4 years there,” ElShurafa told AMEinfo.

“Being a frequent traveler, I wanted to keep up with a workout regime, so I thought why not Dubai, as I’m originally Middle Eastern from Saudi Palestinian parents and having lived in Saudi, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I know what people look in terms of quality workout facilities.”

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Lifestyle destination

Reform Athletica reflects ElShurafa’s vision to create a ‘lifestyle destination’ with clients feeling motivated to workout, inspired by the space and its art and spoilt by the luxurious feel of the studio. This, together with the studio’s commitment to sustainability and adopting environmentally friendly practices, became the foundations upon which Reform Athletica was built.

“We’ve only opened in early May in Jumeirah one, next to Mercato Mall and we don’t operate memberships which could mean that you sign up and never show up. Here, clients can buy class credits, of 1, 5, 10 classes or more which we find gives people flexibility but also a sense of exclusivity” she said.

“We also operate out of a high-end location, as a standalone gym, not as part of commercial centers, malls, or office building, as is usually the case.”

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Reform Athletica’s Signature Classes:

Reform Method: Reform Athletica’s signature Pilates-inspired low impact class. This class takes you through 50 minutes of strength and conditioning exercises performed on the latest Lagree Megaformer machine – originating from Los Angeles, incorporating Pilates and gymnastics-inspired movements. It delivers a challenging full-body workout that is low impact by design, so it’s ideal for every level of fitness. Classes are taught in a high-energy atmosphere to motivating music, focusing on core strength, muscle strengthening, and flexibility.

 TRX Athletica: Reform Athletica’s signature high-intensity class. This class is based on the TRX suspension trainer, providing a challenging and fun, full-body workout. Incorporating athletic based strength and conditioning exercises, the class includes bodyweight drills, as well as the use of weights and other tools to further challenge clients to take their fitness to the next level and boost their overall calorie burn and development.

“The beauty of the classes is that they are capped to 12 people so you will get specific attention from each trainer, whether you’re a beginner or a gym buff. No barriers for entry,” ElShurafa clarified.

Classes start at AED 130.

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Giving back

Reform Athletica is a space that not only offers top training but also a space that is inviting and enriching providing rolling exhibitions in collaboration with a locally based gallery

The fitness studio has sought to work with other local home-grown brands such as Nai, Spill the Bean and Koldpress juice, that share the same passion and vision of giving back to the community and making a difference by raising environmental awareness. The fitness studio will also be offering only filtered water to consumers to fill up their branded S’well bottles and biodegradable sweat bags to aim to reduce the use of plastic and decrease wastage.

“We will raise this awareness through our love of art through a beautiful photograph we have acquired for the studio by Mandy Barker. Her series “Plastic Seas” aims to showcase the harmful effects of plastic to our seas, and this photograph will be displayed in our studio, but also other pieces of work by local artists as part of giving back to the community,” she said.

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The entrepreneur within

“I’m fortunate to have the ability to open with other founders, and there is a lot of encouragement in fitness and women entrepreneurship in the UAE,” ElShurafa said.

“The UAE is an open environment for business which helps set up startups, and now with 10-year visas and no local partner needed, it’s a fertile land, for both business and fitness to flourish.”

In fact, every detail of the operation from branding, the classes, the equipment, the art, music, customer service, to the door handles, have her signature.

She hopes that Reform Athletica becomes a successful example and an inspiration to all aspiring Arab entrepreneurs who wish to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey in the Middle East.