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Why Indoor Walking Could Be the New Sport for You
As keeping fit and healthy becomes increasingly integrated into many lifestyle's these days, more fitness center's are coming up with new ways to stay fit. We look at the benefits of indoor walking.
The UAE is showing itself as a global leader in the up-and-coming new sport of indoor walking. Whilst this type of exercise isn’t taken especially seriously across the planet as of yet, it’s going from strength to strength in the UAE, as soaring temperatures lead the athletic population to increasingly diverse indoor pursuits.
Those who scoff at indoor walking as little more than going for a stroll clearly haven’t done their research. Dubai is now the home of the world’s first official Indoorwalking Training Centre. Its 42-year-old general director Javier Lanfranchi is, quite rightly, the sport’s biggest enthusiast and the poster boy for the new craze. Wanting to prove that indoor walking works as a method of fitness, he sent off on a four-month indoor walking programme and dropped 25 kilos in doing so. He now offers the very same course at his studio in Dubai.
How it started
A former rugby player, the Argentinian director was taken out of high-impact exercise in his mid twenties by a serious knee injury, and ever since has been searching for a sport that would keep him fit and trim but wouldn’t exacerbate his condition. Over the years he struggled with weight gain as his diet wasn’t matched by regular exercise. In 2004, the first step towards Lanfranchi’s transformation occurred, when the designer of the world’s first indoor walking machine, Enric Bonilla, sent one to Lanfranchi. Lanfranchi swiftly became involved in the sport in a big way, and with a combination of indoor walking schedules and a healthier diet his health improved vastly.
Much has changed since the day Lanfranchi first tried out an indoor walking machine. Now director general of Dubai’s Indoorwalking Training Centre, he witnesses significant and beneficial changes in his clientele every day. His studio is packed full of bizarre looking machines with attached walking poles, which are regularly occupied by classes full of people looking to improve their health and fitness. Lanfranchi’s classes are designed to cater to people of all ages and abilities – some of his clients are as old as 75, and people with pretty much any fitness level can get involved in the sport. The centre offer classes that fall, broadly, into three groups – stamina, strength and aerobic training.
The studio’s classes are usually 45 minutes long and offer diverse resistance training that works out a surprisingly large number of the body’s muscles; Lanfranchi claims that one can burn some 700 calories in a single session, and is confident that with the right diet and four to five indoor walking classes per week, anyone can achieve the same results he did – better health and fitness and a better body shape, and fast.
There are plenty of reasons why walking is good for you, and indoor walking can triumph over walking outdoors for several reasons. Firstly - and this is especially pertinent in Dubai - exercising indoors facilitates exercise in a temperature-controlled environment. As the summer in Dubai becomes unbearably hot, it can be difficult to motivate oneself to get outside and work out, as we overheat and become dehydrated very quickly. Indoor centres can effectively control the climate you’re exercising in, which permits strenuous exercise without the worry of heat stroke or severe dehydration.
Indoor tracks also remove the tricky problem of running down busy streets in Dubai, which can be dangerous and packed with obstacles such as cars, other pedestrians and traffic lights to disrupt the rhythm of your workout. Resistance training like the one at the Indoorwalking Training Centre has the added benefit of being kinder on your joints than the concrete streets of the city or the shiny floors of shopping malls. Moreover, a group walking session adds a social element to your daily exercise – working out with other people can be great motivation to keep up a regular exercise schedule, and you can compare your goals, achievements and techniques with your classmates, as well as make friends with a mutual interest.
You can steadily improve your fitness and train between indoor walking classes during your daily routine, too, and incorporating exercise into your normal schedule is an excellent means of ensuring that your new hobby will be more than just a fad, but a rather a long-lasting improvement to your life. For instance, one simple way of doing this would be to take the stairs, rather than an escalator or lift, as much as possible. If you live, work or shop in a high-rise building, opting for the stairs is an easy and free way of raising your heart rate and strengthening muscles, meaning that you can do just a little bit more in your next indoor walking session.Walking has been scientifically linked with reducing the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Make walking a pleasure rather than a chore by preparing properly. Footwear is hugely important in preventing injuries to soft tissue, joint problems or blisters. Make sure you choose comfortable, durable shoes with appropriate heel and arch supports, and wear loose-fitting clothing in which you can move freely. If you are walking outside, remember to bring sunglasses, sunblock and a hat as well as plenty of water.
If you’re keen to get involved in this up-and-coming new sport, then, visit the Indoorwalking Training Centre’s website for more information. The centre is located at the Yassat Hotel Apartments, Sheikh Zayed Road, Tecom, Dubai. Class packages start from round Dh110, and personal training sessions begin at Dh250.