Where to gym
The clue’s in the name. Anytime Fitness is open 24 hours a day, making it an excellent, convenient option with modern – and spotlessly clean – facilities. Membership is for a minimum of six months, but is pretty affordable and includes six guest passes, six body composition analyses, three personal training sessions and 48 group classes which range from Zumba and Yogalates to Circuit Training and Iron Core (you can also purchase group exercise class packages). You can even sign up to try the new workout trend Kangoo, which involves strapping on some springy shoes for an hour of heart-pumping, sweaty cardio.
From QR3,899 (six-month membership). Al Rayyan Road, Freej Bin Mahmoud, www.anytimefitness.qa (4414 4999).
Memberships to Aspire Active are customisable, so you can mix and match the facilities you want to use. Some of Qatar’s professional althetes (including Mutaz Barshim) train here, so it’s no wonder the facilities are second-to-none, and it’s all located in the lush surrounds of Aspire Zone with running tracks and outdoor gyms aplenty. To keep things interesting, aquatic classes and group exercise sessions on offer include, for example, an adrenaline-driven Navy Seal class for men involving high jumps, deep dives, conditioning and extreme cardio.
From QR350 (one month, gym only) to QR5,760 (12 months, full membership). Aspire Zone, Al Waab, www.aspire.qa (4413 6570).
Gym giant Fitness First runs a whopping 65 clubs across the region, with the aim of providing affordable and accessible workout spaces. Doha’s branch recently underwent a huge renovation and re-launched in October. It features all the gym essentials from group exercise classes to personal training and treadmills, plus state-of-the-art equipment such as Octagon gym equipment (a multi-purpose rig). Post-workout, relax in the sauna or head to the members lounge where you’ll find complimentary wi-fi and drinks.
From QR699 (one-month membership). City Centre Doha, West Bay, www.qatar.fitnessfirstme.com (4411 5999).
If you really want to get serious about your health in 2017, this is the place to do it. OxFitness Lab is an all-encompassing facility built around three core pillars: OxHealth, OxTraining and OxLife. All members get a bespoke plan incorporating training, nutrition and physiotherapy. There are state-of-the-art facilities, luxurious changing rooms and a café serving healthy meals, and the facility is ahead of the latest trends such as RealRyder spinning. Prices are at a premium, but you know that each and every member receives the highest level of dedication and care.
From QR2,292 (per month for a 12-month membership) or QR25,000 (12 months, paid upfront). The Gate Mall, West Bay, www.oxfitnesslab.com (4020 6430).
One of the biggest facilities in the city – and open 24 hours a day – QGym houses more than 200 machines, a CrossFit Box (www.crossfitblackandyellow.com), a healthy food café and more. It’s the training ground for Qatar Mixed Martial Arts Academy, and there are personal training and group personal training sessions available, too, plus complimentary wi-fi. An excellent one-size-fits-all space. Book an appointment to tour the gym and find out more about prices.
Price on request. Al Sadd Sports Club, Talha Bin Khaled Street (4459 4211).
Where to train
Bootcamp Military Fitness
You know the drill when it comes to bootcamp, and at Bootcamp Military Fitness you’ll be put through your paces by former British army soldiers (don’t let that scare you off, they have a unique coloured bib system to help cater to different levels of fitness). They also offer high-intensity lunch break blast sessions as well as ladies-only G. I. Jane classes. There are different package prices which differ depending whether you would prefer indoor or outdoor sessions, but start from QR800 for ten indoors, and QR725 for 12 outdoors.
From QR100 (one class). Palm Tower, Al Bidda Street, West Bay, www.bootcampmilitaryfit.com (5503 0532).
Psycho Circuits, Rapid Fire, Kalorie Killa and Doha Pound are all names of fitness classes offered by Evolve. If they sound scary, that’s because they are a bit. But while you’re guaranteed a gruelling workout and sore muscles, you’re also guaranteed some of the best and friendliest instructors in the city. Alternatively, sign up for a more soothing rooftop yoga session or belly dancing. Classes take place in locations including the Grand Hyatt Doha and B/Attitude spa. Evolve also runs personal and small group private training sessions (they’ll even come to your home), with prices ranging from QR250-400.
QR60-80 (one class). Various locations around Doha, check the website for up-to-date schedules: www.evolvemindbodysoul.com (5040 3234).
Evolution Sports Qatar
Get your kids active, too, by signing them up to a sports team or club. Evolution Sports is aimed at children and young adults from the ages of three up to 18. There are rugby and football teams, cricket and netball, as well as fitness classes for over 16s. Sessions take place at various locations, including West Bay and Al Waab, so you can be sure that you’ll find something convenient.
Prices vary. www.evosportsqatar.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (4407 6772).
Live Life CrossFit
CrossFit seems to be a bit like Marmite, but those who love it swear by it. The tough training involves doing varied, functional movements at high intensity, combining elements of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. Whether you’re thinking about trying CrossFit or you’re already a veteran, Live Life is one of the best places in the city to guide you through the workout. Their CrossFit Essentials programme is designed to teach the basic techniques, fundamental movements and CrossFit training concepts, and it's compulsory to all before signing up to open gym sessions and WODs (workout of the day).
From QR80 (one class), QR1,000 (CrossFit essentials). InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon, email@example.com (3364 3211).
This is a difficult martial art, but one that’s gaining traction in the fitness world for its all-encompassing physical and mental challenges. Yes, it teaches self-defence, but as instructor Caitalin Abubaker-May says, “taking up Muay Thai will not only have a physical effect, but will push, guide, challenge and shape you as a person… it’s high-intensity, fast-paced and incredibly progressive and rewarding”. With commitment and perseverance, it will also transform your body to become fitter, leaner and stronger. Caitalin and her husband Faisal (a former World Champion) teach classes and also offer one-on-one training for individuals and couples.
Prices vary. Strongbox, Al Jazzi Gardens, West Bay, www.facebook.com/diamondfandfdoha, firstname.lastname@example.org (5509 1985).
This long-awaited studio just opened on The Pearl, adjacent to raw vegan café Evergreen Organics. Classes at the bright space are taught by some of the best instructors in Qatar who have had years and years of training, plus there are workshops run by guest instructors promised for the coming months. From Ashtanga and Vinyasa to Aerial and Yin yoga, and even sessions with Tibetan singing bowls and the ancient practice of Qigong, Niya is about physical health, but also about mental wellbeing. It’s the perfect pitstop for the health-conscious this year.
From QR120 (one class). Mercato Palazzo 1, Qanat Quartier, The Pearl-Qatar (4468 2562).
If team sports are what you’re after, QSports organises teams and leagues for basketball, netball, rugby, volleyball and more. Once you have created an account and registered, you can join as many programmes as you like either by registering a new team or joining an existing team. There are three league seasons each year (lasting around 8-12 weeks), or you can sign up for the badminton, tennis or swimming clubs for a monthly fee.
From QR275 (per sport, per month for clubs), league team prices vary. Times and locations vary by sport, www.qsports.qa (4017 6791).
This class-based gym focusses on strength and conditioning, offering CrossFit, kickboxing, circuits, pilates and Pole Fit – an immensely fun way of strengthening and toning your muscles. Climbing up a metal pole, holding yourself there and flipping upside down requires a tremendous amount of strength, so stick with it and you’ll have a core of steel.
From QR80 (one class). Strongbox, three locations including West Bay, The Pearl-Qatar and Abu Hamour, www.strongboxqatar.com (4029 3720).
You might be surprised to hear that anyone can join this club, whether you’re already a successful iron man or woman, or a complete novice, so it's perfect if you want to improve your fitness and set yourself a new challenge. There are events and races for you to get involved with throughout the year, as well as weekly training sessions where you can train at your own pace. There are open water swim and run sessions on Saturday morning followed by social breakfasts, in addition to Friday bike rides and master swimming sessions in partnership with Hamilton Swimming Club. With your membership fee you’ll get a personal timing chip, discount entry into local races and GCC Ironman events, training sessions and more.
QR300 for one year (September to August), QR200 for joiners after January 1. For more information, visit www.triclubdoha.com.
Try something different and get involved with this fast-moving, non-contact team sport that involves scoring points by passing the Frisbee to a teammate who is standing in the endzone you are attacking. The rules of the game are fairly easy to pick up, and the sport is a great way to hone your throwing skills, and increase stamina and agility. Ultimate Frisbee Qatar is a friendly group that welcomes young players, beginners and even visitors. Teams are mixed-gender and sessions include some drills followed by a game. As it says on the website: “Even if you have never thrown a frisbee before, you are very welcome.” Take a light and dark shirt so teams can be evenly split.
QR10. Wed 8pm-9pm. American School of Doha, grass field, entry via Gate 8, https://sites.google.com/site/qatarulti (no number).
Where to eat
A trendy art gallery / café combo in one of the city’s more unusual venues. The menu offers light bites such as grilled fish, alongside salads like organic kale or exotic black quinoa. In fact, fans of the grain will be pleased to know that there are no less than four different salad options based on quinoa. There are fresh juices, too, plus plenty of gluten- and lactose-free options. Breakfast dishes are particularly nutritious, and there’s a great selection of healthy and probiotic milkshakes.
30 La Croisette, Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar, www.animagallery.com (4002 7437).
Fresh, healthy, organic dishes are at the heart of this restaurant, which is nestled beside a green garden. Most of the dishes feature fresh veg grown locally, either at the on-site garden or from an organic farm on the outskirts of Doha. Try creations such as stuffed artichoke, colourful salads and low-fat mains.
Al Shaqab Hotel, Education City (4409 5000).
This is great place to pop into for a fresh juice, nut milk or smoothie post-workout, but the exciting and creative menu of raw, vegan food makes it worth a visit at any time. Acai bowls and chia puddings take centre-stage at breakfast, while lunch and dinner menus feature nutritious bowls of veg and grains – try the jungle bowl, made with quinoa, sweet potato, kale, avocado, red onion and an unusual, but delicious, lime-banana dressing – veggie burgers and almond butter sandwiches, to name just a few.
Mercato Palazzo 1, Qanat Quartier, The Pearl-Qatar (4468 2562).
An excellent spot for breakfast where you can tuck into simple but healthy plates such as yoghurt and granola, fresh fruit or eggs on toast, plus, importantly, fantastic coffee. This café also has a long list of lovely salads that are as filling as they are fresh.
Barwa Towers, C Ring Road, Al Sadd (4444 4777).
A quiet, casual, self-service café, Meesh is the sort of place where you can settle in with a book or a laptop for a few hours. The rustic interiors mimic the style of food which isn’t especially refined, but tastes homemade and hearty. There are salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches and refreshing juices from local start-up Raw ME, including one made with kale, green apple, cucumber and lemon. We definitely recommend this place.
Crowne Plaza-The Business Park, Airport Road (4408 7777).
Shakespeare & Co
Great food, and a setting to match, Shakespeare’s branch on The Pearl has plenty of healthy options (plus a fair few unhealthy options making it a good all-rounder for big groups). The Healthy Breakfast includes an egg white omelette, roast potatoes, asparagus, fresh fruit, yoghurt, brown toast and your choice of juice, plus tea or coffee. Salads, thankfully, go beyond the usual Caesar and Nicoise to include more interesting creations featuring ingredients like beetroot, squash and quinoa, while the dessert list offers yoghurt parfait or fresh fruit, so you don’t have to forgo something sweet.
12 La Croisette, Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar (6629 3821).
jones the grocer
Often a go-to café for the health-conscious, much of the menu here is made up of light dishes like coconut flour pancakes with whipped yoghurt, paleo pumpkin and ginger soup or poached egg with homemade basil pesto, avocado and herb salad on multi-grain toast. Healthy and delicious.
The Gate Mall, West Bay (4407 7175). Other location: 31 La Croisette, Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar (4029 6928).
Though the food truck outside serves burgers, hotdogs and Nutella-filled chapati, inside Cafe #999 has a menu that has all sorts of “nutrition shots” (such as beetroot, carrot and orange) and dishes such as grilled prawns on avocado mango salad or eggplant with yoghurt and coconut. If you’ve got a craving for something carby, there’s a delicious pasta dish made with spinach and asparagus, too.
The Fire Station gallery, Civil Defense Junction, www.cafe999.com (no number).
Dean & David
Bright and summery, this is a lovely place for a lunch break, especially if you’re trying to escape the hustle and bustle of West Bay. Even better, though, is its ethos of fresh, healthy, light food. The build-your-own salad portions are huge, and you can load them up with gourmet ingredients like crispy, toasted oyster mushrooms.
Ezdan Hotel & Suites, West Bay, www.deananddavid.de/en (4493 8047). Other location: Parcel 7, Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar (4465 1015).
There are healthy cafés aplenty in the city, but when it comes to choosing a restaurant for an evening meal, options thin out. Seafood market-style restaurants are ideal, since you can choose your sauce and cooking method (go for steamed or grilled). L’Wzaar was Time Out Doha’s Best Seafood Restaurant of 2016, not least because of its huge range of fish and helpful staff who will recommend different varieties based on how you would like it cooked. Starters range from sushi to mezze, so you can fill up on mostly guilt-free food.
Building 27, Katara Cultural Village (4408 0710).
Where to shop
A trip to one of Doha’s seasonal farmer’s markets is well worth it to pick up locally grown produce, not least because what you’ll find there is fresher and cheaper than many supermarkets. They generally run between October or November and early June at several different locations, the best-known being at Al Mazrouah Yard and the other two operating from Al Dhakira and Al Wakrah, which also offers poultry and fish.
For Al Mazrouah Yard market, take the Al Mazrouah Intersection, turning off at Al Shamal Expressway and follow the signs. Al Wakrah yard is located diagonally opposite Al Wakrah Hospital; from Al Wukair street, facing towards Wukair, exit right from the roundabout and take the first right. Follow the Al Khor coastal road through Al Khor, towards Al Khor Hospital; turn left at the roundabout between Al Dhakira petrol station and the hospital, the market will be on the right.
This supermarket is known for its imported stock, mainly from the US, Australia and the UK. While that does mean it’s definitely not a place for bargain-hunting, it is a good place to look for elusive gluten-free or low-sodium bits and pieces that you haven’t been able to track down elsewhere.
The Centre, Salwa Road (3348 0710). Other location: MegaMart Express, Al Rayyan (4447 7786).
A go-to supermarket of the uber health-conscious, this French department store is known for its stocks of international health foods and wide range of veg that are tricky to find elsewhere. You’ll find organic and gluten-free items on the shelves, alongside super-grains like quinoa and obscure fruit like rambutans. It stocks plenty of produce from local farmers, too, so you can shop for food that’s as sustainable as it is good for you.
Palm Towers, West Bay, www.facebook.com/MonoPrixQatar (4414 6642).
Mustafawi Organic Vegetable
This organic farm is based in Qatar and packs up boxes of fresh produce to deliver weekly, generally between November and March each year. Everything is grown on-site including lettuce, cucumber, spinach, radish, courgette, kale, parsley and far more. Order a selection box for QR250 – the variety changes on a weekly basis – or order by weight. It’s QR40 per kilo of each veg (you don't need to order a kilo of each, but there is two-kilo minimum order), and deliveries are made on Saturdays and Sundays for orders placed by 11am the preceding Friday. Visit their Facebook page for information on how to order.
Cash on delivery. www.facebook.com/mustafawiorganicvegetable (3027 5865).
A home-grown brand with a range of delicious juices including green juices (such as one made with apple, cucumber, lemon, lettuce, parsley and spinach), root juices, fruit juices and nut milks. Detox packages are available, as are fruit snack baskets which can be delivered to offices to help you beat that mid-afternoon slump.
From QR175 (for a four-juice detox). www.raw-me.com (6613 9882).
Wander through a maze of tables piled high with heaps of colourful fresh fruit and veg. If it’s value-for-money that you're after, this is definitely your best bet. You can walk away with bag-loads of vegetables for next to nothing, especially when you compare the prices to virtually any supermarket. If you get there early in the morning, it’s worth popping into the seafood market next door for catches that come fresh off the morning’s dhows.
Off Salwa Road, Abu Hamour.
Paddle for a cause
Believe it or not, Doha has a large dragonboating community, but one club in particular – Doha Wireless Warriors – gets out on the water in support of breast cancer survivors.
“We take a moment every paddle to appreciate where we are and that we are alive and able to paddle... we stop in the middle of Katara to send love and light or prayers to whomever we know who may need them,” says Sandee, the founder of the group and herself a two-time breast cancer survivor. The boat is there, she says, for those who have gone through breast cancer, and those who have a friend or family member who has, some of whom may not have survived.
The group shares information and offers advice about coping with cancer in Doha, while the physical activity can be beneficial for keeping the lymph system moving – something important to survivors who have needed lymph nodes removing.
But anyone and everyone is welcome to join the group, regardless of age or ability, and having first-hand experience of the disease isn’t a prerequisite. Neither is previous experience of dragon boating, or a high level of fitness, though the sport will definitely strengthen your core and arms, improve your breathing and give you an excellent cardio workout. But most of all, this group can offer emotional support.
“The boat is a safe place to just be,” says Sandee. “And if you need to talk to someone, someone is always willing to listen or offer up a hug.”
QR20 (paddle donation). Wed 3.30pm-5.30pm, Fri-Sat 8am-10am (times change with the season, check the facebook page for latest schedule). Katara Beach, www.dww.qa (no number).
CrossFit hasn’t been without its share of controversy, so we chatted to Damian Ruatara – one of the founders of Live Life CrossFit box – to find out more about the fitness craze. Here’s what you need to know before signing up for a session.
What can you expect from your first CrossFit class?
Safety and Technique should be the keywords you hear at your first class. Many CrossFit moves require a lot of practise so your coach will help you to perform these moves safely, while also offering scaled techniques to help build your confidence.
What are the main health and fitness benefits of CrossFit?
Besides the faster strength, endurance and mobility gains similar to most other high intensity training programmes, CrossFit teaches you to be prepared for any movement, from running to squatting to even walking on your hands. A big catchphrase in CrossFit is, “Specialising in not specialising”.
Who would benefit most from CrossFit?
We say, “CrossFit never gets easier… You just get fitter”. CrossFit promotes progression through constantly striving to improve yourself (as you should in life). We should never be content, and CrossFit gives you that opportunity. If you’re happy with the same training regime day in, day out, then CrossFit is not for you.
What do you love about the workout?
I love the group aspect. CrossFit workouts are challenging by definition (“Constantly varied functional movements performed at a high intensity”), so sometimes just finishing the workout, with all your buddies around you can be the greatest feeling.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding CrossFit. Why do you think that is?
I personally think it boils down to each individual “box” (CrossFit language for “gym”) needing to take more responsibility for their participants through better coaching of technique and safety. Unfortunately due to its massive success and popularity, there are some bad apple CrossFit boxes ruining it for everybody else. Yes, CrossFit is technically difficult to master, but with focused, caring coaches, it is fun, rewarding and, most of all, encourages a healthy lifestyle.
What advice would you give a beginner who might be nervous to sign up?
Shop around. Not every box is the same. Chat to the Head Coach and explain the points that make you nervous to join. CrossFit is a training programme, meaning it’s not a quick fix. You’ll need to stick with the programme long term to see the benefits, so it pays to join a box you like before you actually commit. We say that you should “strive for progression, not perfection”.
If you’re after a more personalised, bespoke fitness regime, check out this list of personal trainers who work in the city. It covers everything, whether you’re looking for a private yoga tutor, one-on-one coaching in a specific discipline, or simply someone who can motivate you to achieve your goals.