Training for Your First Triathlon in the UAE

Training for triathlon in the UAE can be easier if you are prepared. Get some great tips and advice to help you prepare for triathlon victory.
guide to training for triathlon in the UAE

Triathlon Triumph: Your Guide to Training for Your First Triathlon in the UAE

Article Contributor: Coach Anna

Training for a triathlon is an exhilarating and challenging experience that involves a great deal of discipline, preparation, and dedication. When it comes to competing in the sunny and vibrant environments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, there are unique considerations to keep in mind, such as adapting to the hot climate and making the most of the spectacular scenery.

In this comprehensive article, we aim to provide you with a detailed step-by-step guide designed to assist you in embarking on your triathlon journey, ensuring that you’re well-prepared for the swimming, cycling, and running segments.

Table Of Contents

Setting Your Training For Triathlon Goals

Establishing precise objectives is fundamental to effectively organizing your triathlon training regimen in the UAE. It’s crucial first to decide on the exact distance and variety of triathlon event you are aiming to compete in. There is a range of distances available, from the sprint triathlon, which is an excellent starting point for newcomers due to its shorter distances, to the Olympic-distance triathlon, which offers a more challenging experience with longer swimming, biking, and running segments.

For those looking for an even greater challenge, the half Ironman triathlon presents a formidable test of endurance and determination, involving substantial increases in each discipline’s distance. Meanwhile, the full Ironman triathlon stands at the pinnacle of endurance sport events, demanding an exceptional level of preparation, stamina, and mental fortitude.

By zeroing in on your specific goals—whether that’s completing your first sprint triathlon or setting a personal best in an Ironman—you can create a training plan that is meticulously calibrated to your objectives. This personalized approach not only ensures that your training is relevant but also maximizes efficiency by focusing on the demands of your chosen event. For example, if your goal is to complete an Ironman, your training plan will need to incorporate long bike rides, extended swims, and lengthy runs, all designed to build the endurance necessary for such an arduous event.

Moreover, by being clear about your goals from the outset, you can monitor your progress more effectively, make adjustments as needed, and maintain motivation. This clarity helps to prevent overtraining or undertraining by providing a structured framework for your preparation. In essence, clear goal-setting is the cornerstone of a successful triathlon training strategy, supporting you in achieving the results you desire.

Key Points:

  • Choose a triathlon distance that aligns with your current fitness level and aspirations.
  • Consider factors like time commitment, available resources, and personal preferences when selecting your goal.

Example Exercise:

  1. Identify and articulate your triathlon goal in clear terms. Begin by specifying the distance category that intrigues you—be it sprint, Olympic, half-Ironman, or full Ironman distances.

  2. Consider the type of race that excites you most. Do you wish to navigate through freshwater lakes, endure brisk ocean swims, cycle through rolling hills, or run on flat, fast courses? Think about what environment will inspire you to push your limits.

  3. After selecting your preferred distance and race environment, write down the specific event or venue you wish to compete in. Research upcoming races, considering factors such as location, climate, and date, to ensure they align with your training plans and personal schedule.

  4. Aim to outline a timeline for your training leading up to the race, accounting for gradual progress in swimming, cycling, and running. Establish benchmarks for improvement and consider incorporating brick workouts to simulate race conditions.

  5. Lastly, don’t forget to acknowledge any personal targets beyond just finishing; perhaps aiming for a particular completion time, or prioritizing a strong performance in one segment of the race over another.

  6. Document your comprehensive triathlon goal clearly and concisely, whilst maintaining realism in your aspirations. This detailed approach not only serves as a commitment to yourself but also provides a structured pathway towards achieving your triathlon dreams.

Assessing Your Fitness Level

Before you plunge into the rigorous world of triathlon training within the diverse landscape of the United Arab Emirates, it is absolutely critical to conduct a thorough assessment of your current fitness level. You should take note of your stamina, strength, and endurance metrics to discern which facets of your fitness regime could use some enhancement. This initial appraisal is pivotal as it directs you toward tailoring a training plan that not only aligns with your physical capabilities but also your personal goals.

The benefits of this evaluative approach are manifold. It provides a clear starting point from which you can measure progress, something that is vitally important in a sport as demanding as triathlon. Also, understanding your body’s strengths and weaknesses can prevent injuries by ensuring you do not overtrain or neglect certain muscle groups.

Moreover, many athletes overlook the importance of expert guidance in their preparations. Securing the services of a personal trainer—whether male or female—who specializes in triathlon coaching can be an invaluable asset in your journey. Such a professional can offer a deeper insight into your athletic prowess, often uncovering nuances in your condition that might have otherwise eluded you.

In cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where the sporting infrastructure is progressively evolving, you will find trainers adept at crafting regimes that are customized and dynamic. Whether it’s through one-on-one sessions or detailed program designs, a seasoned coach can elevate your performance by developing strategies that address every dimension of the sport – swimming, cycling, and running.

Remember, a good trainer doesn’t just work on your physical state; they’re instrumental in honing your mental fortitude—which is just as essential for enduring the arduous triathlon courses. So, as you embark on your athletic expedition in the UAE, consider investing in a personal trainer with a track record in triathlon coaching. It could very well be the difference between merely competing and excelling.

Key Points:

  • Evaluate your swimming, cycling, and running abilities separately.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in each discipline.
  • Consider seeking professional guidance or using fitness assessment tools to get an accurate assessment.

Example exercise: 

As a triathlete, the importance of conducting a thorough self-assessment across all three disciplines – swimming, cycling, and running – cannot be overstated. Each discipline demands a unique set of skills and attributes, and the ability to evaluate oneself honestly and accurately is crucial for targeted improvements and achieving personal bests.

Swimming:
When reflecting on my swimming abilities, I would rate myself a 7 out of 10. My technique has seen significant improvement thanks to consistent practice and professional coaching. The smoothness of my stroke has been enhanced, and I’ve worked diligently on my breathing patterns, which has resulted in more efficient oxygen consumption. However, there is room for improvement in my kick technique and overall endurance. Achieving a better kick technique could help conserve energy, which is essential for the remaining disciplines.

Cycling:
My cycling prowess can be confidently placed at an 8 out of 10. This is the discipline I feel most comfortable with, having devoted ample time to refining both my seated and standing pedaling forms. My endurance levels are commendable, often allowing me to maintain a steady pace over long distances without significant fatigue. Speed-wise, I make respectable time, though I believe with further strength training and aerodynamic positioning, I could shave off some minutes from my cycling segments.

Running:
Lastly, evaluating my running capabilities leads me to assign myself a 6 out of 10. It is the area where I see the greatest potential for growth. While my technique is fair, and I’ve worked on achieving an effective stride length and cadence, my speed is not as competitive as I would like it to be. Endurance also presents a challenge, particularly in maintaining a consistent pace throughout. Focusing on interval training and incorporating hill workouts could be beneficial strategies for enhancing my running performance.

Creating Your Triathlon Training Plan

Embarking on the journey to compete in a triathlon is a commendable goal, and it requires careful planning and dedication. When living in the dynamic environment of the UAE, developing a well-structured and comprehensive training plan becomes particularly essential for achieving consistent progress and reaching your athletic potential.

Your training plan should serve as a roadmap, guiding you through the different phases of preparation for the triathlon. Begin by incorporating swimming workouts into your regimen. Given the UAE’s climate, finding a temperature-controlled pool can provide an ideal setting for year-round training. Ensure that these sessions focus not only on building endurance but also on improving technique, which is key to conserving energy during the swim portion of the event.

Next, cycling workouts should be integrated into your plan. Cycling in the UAE offers diverse terrains – from flat urban paths to more challenging desert landscapes. These varying conditions can be advantageous as they help build your cycling proficiency under different road scenarios. Your cycling training should gradually increase in intensity, allowing you to build muscular strength and cardiovascular stamina while still being mindful to prevent overuse injuries.

Running is another critical component of your triathlon training regime. The running segment often comes last in triathlons, so practicing running on fatigued legs after biking sessions can simulate race conditions. In the UAE, early morning or evening runs might be preferable to avoid the midday heat, while also providing you with the opportunity to enjoy the picturesque sunrise or sunset views.

An often-overlooked aspect of a solid triathlon training plan is the inclusion of rest days. Rest is vital for the body’s recovery and repair processes. It helps to reduce the risk of injury and mental burnout, both of which could set back your training significantly if not addressed. Make sure to listen to your body and incorporate rest days strategically – these are as important as your most intense workout days.

As your training progresses, it’s beneficial to occasionally participate in smaller races or organized training events. This provides practical experience in a competitive atmosphere and helps gauge your fitness level and readiness for the main triathlon event. Keep track of your progression through regular assessments and adjust your training plan accordingly.

Remember, every athlete is unique, and therefore it is important to tailor your triathlon training plan to your individual needs, goals, and life circumstances. Balancing work, family commitments, and training in the fast-paced lifestyle common in the UAE can be challenging, but with a well-thought-out training plan, the path to triathlon success will be clear. Dedication to your routine and a commitment to gradual improvement will pave the way towards achieving your triathlon aspirations in the UAE.

 

Key Points:

  • Divide your training plan into phases, focusing on building a solid foundation before increasing intensity.

  • Gradually increase the volume and intensity of your workouts to avoid overtraining.

  • Consider consulting with a professional coach or using online resources for guidance.

Example Exercise: 

Create a weekly training schedule that includes specific workouts for swimming, cycling, and running. Start with manageable volumes and gradually increase them over time.

Swim Training For Triathlon

If you’re new to swimming, it might be a good idea to consider taking swimming lessons or hiring a swimming personal trainer in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. You could even join a swim class to improve your technique, endurance, and speed in the water. It’s always helpful to incorporate regular swim workouts into your training plan, gradually increasing the distance and intensity. Remember, swimming is not only a great way to stay fit but also a fun and relaxing activity that can help you unwind after a long day. So don’t hesitate to dive in and enjoy the water!

 

Key Points:

  • Focus on proper technique and form to maximize efficiency in the water.

  • Include drills and interval sets to improve specific aspects of your swimming.

  • Practice open water swimming to simulate race conditions.

Example Exercise: 

To effectively train for the swim component of your Triathlon, it is essential to structure your workouts meticulously. Start every training session with a proper warm-up to prepare your muscles and cardiovascular system for the task ahead. This can include some light swimming at a relaxed pace or even some dynamic stretching on the pool deck.

After you are adequately warmed up, move on to the main set of your workout. This should be the most challenging part of your session and will typically consist of various drills that focus on improving your technique, along with intervals designed to increase your speed and endurance in the water. Drills may include exercises like catch-up stroke, fist swimming, or single-arm freestyle, each targeting specific aspects of your stroke mechanics.

The intervals within the main set might consist of varying lengths and intensities. For example, you could do a series of 100-meter swims where you aim to maintain a consistent pace throughout, followed by brief periods of rest. As your fitness improves, try to either reduce the rest time between intervals or increase the distance of each interval swim, thereby boosting the overall intensity of your workout.

Finally, conclude your session with a cool-down. The purpose of this stage is to gradually lower your heart rate and help flush out any lactic acid that may have built up during the intense parts of your workout. A cool-down might involve easy swimming for several minutes and then conclude with some gentle stretching to aid recovery and flexibility.

It’s imperative to progressively increase either the distance or the intensity of each part of your swim workouts as you advance through your training plan. By doing so, you will ensure continuous improvement in both stamina and swim technique, setting a solid foundation for success on race day. Remember to listen to your body throughout your training and make adjustments as necessary to avoid overtraining or injury.

guide to training for triathlon in the UAE

Cycling Training For Triathlon

On your journey to improve your cycling prowess for triathlon in the UAE, the first and foremost step is to equip yourself with a reliable bike that is well-suited to your body shape and riding preferences. Additionally, prioritize your safety by securing a helmet that fits snugly and offers optimum protection.

Start your training regimen with shorter rides, allowing your body to acclimate to the new physical demands without undue strain. As your endurance builds, aim to extend the duration of your rides steadily, as well as the level of intensity. This gradual approach helps in reducing the risk of injuries and improves your cycling stamina over time.

To cultivate a well-rounded skill set, it’s crucial to introduce variety into your training schedule. Long slow distance rides are essential for building base endurance; they should be performed at a comfortable pace, enabling you to cover substantial distances without excessive fatigue. Interval training, on the other hand, is designed to enhance your speed and cardiovascular efficiency. It involves alternating periods of high-intensity cycling with intervals of lower intensity or rest. Hill repeats, which entail repeated cycling up and down a hill, focus on developing leg strength and climbing skills—both of which are key components in challenging races or terrains.

For those training for multi-sport events such as triathlons, it’s vital to practice transitions between different disciplines, particularly swimming and cycling. Transition workouts prepare your muscles for the switch in activity and refine your technique in changing gear swiftly, thus mimicking the dynamic nature of race conditions. These sessions also serve to fine-tune your strategy under the duress of competition, ensuring that you’re adept at managing the switch in a time-efficient manner when every second counts.

By following these training suggestions, you’ll be able to elevate both your competence and confidence on the bike, paving the way towards achieving your cycling goals, whether they be personal milestones or competitive achievements.

Key Points:

  • Focus on building endurance and strength on the bike.
  • Incorporate interval training to improve speed and power.
  • Familiarize yourself with bike maintenance and safety practices.

Example Exercise:

Plan a cycling workout that includes a warm-up, main set (such as hill repeats or interval training), and cool-down. Increase the duration or intensity of each ride progressively.

Running Training For Triathlon

For the running segment of your triathlon preparation, it’s essential to begin with a pace that doesn’t strain you—something that feels comfortable and sustainable. Over time, look to gently augment both the distance you cover and the intensity with which you approach each run. An incremental increase will help your body acclimate without undue stress, reducing the risk of injury.

Your training regimen should encompass a diverse array of workouts. Aim to integrate steady-state runs, where you maintain a consistent speed and effort throughout. These runs are pivotal as they form the foundation of your endurance. Complement these with speed workouts; these could include intervals or tempo runs to enhance your cardiovascular health, improve your running economy, and increase your lactate threshold. Speed workouts are invaluable for increasing your ability to maintain faster paces over the course of the triathlon.

Additionally, make sure to incorporate long runs into your weekly schedule. Long runs are critical—they not only build endurance but also give you the mental toughness required to tackle the extended duration of a triathlon run. This type of workout prepares you both psychically and psychologically for the demands of sustained effort, which is an indispensable aspect of successful triathlon finishing.

It’s also very important not to overlook the transitions in triathlon training. The switch from cycling to running, often referred to as T2, can be quite jarring for the unprepared athlete. Your muscles and movement patterns change significantly, so practice this transition frequently. To do this effectively, include brick workouts in your plan, where you follow a bike session immediately with a run. This adaptation allows your body to learn how to efficiently shift gears between the two disciplines and can dramatically improve your performance on race day.

By varying your workouts and paying close attention to the unique challenges of a triathlon, you position yourself for success. Remember, consistency is key, as is listening to your body to avoid pushing too hard, too fast. Allow yourself rest when needed, and approach your training with patience and determination.

 

Key Points:

  • Focus on building endurance and speed gradually.

  • Incorporate interval training and tempo runs to improve running performance.

  • Pay attention to proper running form and technique.

Example Exercise: 

Design a running workout that includes a warm-up, main set (such as intervals or tempo runs), and cool-down. Increase the distance or intensity of each run progressively.

Brick Workouts

Incorporate brick workouts into your training plan. These workouts involve combining two disciplines back-to-back, such as cycling immediately followed by running. This will help your body adapt to the transition from one discipline to another.

Key Points:

  • Start with shorter brick workouts and gradually increase the duration and intensity.

  • Practice smooth transitions between swimming, cycling, and running.

  • Mimic race conditions as closely as possible during brick workouts.

Example Exercise:

Perform a brick workout consisting of a swim followed by a bike ride, or a bike ride followed by a run. Increase the duration or intensity of each brick workout over time.

Cross-Train and Strength Train

Incorporating a diverse range of cross-training activities is necessary for triathletes striving to enhance their overall fitness levels. When preparing for such demanding competitions as a triathlon in the vigorous climates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, athletes can greatly benefit from a holistic approach to their training regimen.

Yoga, for instance, is an excellent practice that not only promotes flexibility but also aids in mental focus and stress reduction. It complements the rigorous physical demands of triathlon training by helping maintain muscle elasticity and joint health. The breath control techniques learned through yoga can be particularly beneficial during long-distance swimming, cycling, or running when efficient oxygen usage becomes crucial.

Strength training should also be a cornerstone of a triathlete’s cross-training program. Incorporating exercises with free weights, resistance bands, or even bodyweight routines can significantly improve muscular endurance and power. This increase in strength directly translates into faster sprinting on the bike, more powerful strokes in the water, and improved stamina during the run leg of the triathlon.

Flexibility exercises should not be overlooked, as they are paramount in preventing injuries which can otherwise hinder an athlete’s progress and preparation. Dynamic stretching before workouts and static stretching afterwards will ensure that the muscles remain supple and reduce the risk of strains or sprains. Moreover, regular flexibility workouts can aid in quicker recovery after intense triathlon sessions, a vital aspect when training in hot and humid conditions prevalent in cities like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah.

In effect, by integrating these varied cross-training activities into their routine, triathletes can expect not just to prevent injuries but also to witness significant enhancements in their performance. Such comprehensive training paves the way for a more robust, agile, and resilient athlete, ready to take on the challenges of a triathlon with vigor and confidence.

 

Key Points:

  • Engage in activities that complement your triathlon training, such as yoga for flexibility or strength training for muscle development.
  • Focus on core strength and stability exercises to support your swimming, cycling, and running.

 

Example Exercise: 

Incorporate a yoga session or strength training routine into your weekly training schedule. Choose exercises that target key muscle groups used in triathlon.

Rest and Recovery

Incorporating regular rest days into your triathlon training regimen is absolutely crucial to allow your body the necessary time to recuperate and to avert the risk of overtraining, which can lead to injuries or burnout. It cannot be overstated how important it is to pay close attention to your body’s signals and heed its warnings. Should you experience any unusual fatigue, persistent soreness, or any other signs that suggest your body is not recovering properly, it is imperative to take immediate action and make adjustments to your training plan.

Rest days are not merely about doing nothing—they are an integral part of your training. These are the days when your muscles repair and strengthen, and when your mind has a chance to relax and rejuvenate. Engage in activities that promote recovery such as gentle stretching, yoga, or even walking. These light activities can aid in maintaining flexibility and circulation without imposing undue stress on your body.

Additionally, use this downtime to reflect on your training progress and plan ahead for future sessions. Ensure that your nutrition on these days supports recovery; hydrate well and consume foods rich in nutrients that foster muscle repair, like proteins and complex carbohydrates.

Above all, remember that rest days should be treated with the same importance as workout days. They are the foundation upon which your training improvements are built. By listening attentively to your body and making informed adjustments to your training as required, you put yourself in a strong position to reach your triathlon goals while maintaining a healthy balance in your physical activities.

 

Key Points:

  • Schedule at least one complete rest day per week.

  • Incorporate active recovery activities, such as light swimming or cycling, on rest days.

  • Prioritize sleep and nutrition to support recovery.

Example Exercise: 

Plan a rest day where you engage in gentle stretching or low-intensity activities like walking or swimming.

Practice Transitions

Mastering the art of seamless transitions between swimming, cycling, and running is crucial for triathletes aiming to enhance their race performance. Every second counts, and learning to switch disciplines smoothly can ultimately lead to significant time savings, which might just be the difference between standing on the podium or not.

To hone this skill, it’s recommended that you set up a simulated transition area that mimics the conditions you’ll experience during an actual race. This allows you to rehearse the swift change of gear efficiently—practicing how to peel off a wetsuit, jumping onto the bike without fumbling, or switching into your running shoes with ease.

Methodically practice the sequence of changing gear, shoes, and equipment. Start by focusing on one transition at a time, either T1 (the swim-to-bike transition) or T2 (the bike-to-run transition). As you grow more comfortable with each, begin to combine them in your training sessions to develop muscle memory and confidence.

For the swim-to-bike transition, ensure you have all your biking gear laid out neatly. Learn to strip off your swim cap and goggles as you run to your bike. Perfect the technique of hopping onto your bike while fastening your helmet securely, and, if possible, learn the skill of a flying mount to save even more time.

When practicing the bike-to-run transition, work on dismounting your bike efficiently and quickly changing into your running shoes. You may want to experiment with different lacing systems or elastic shoelaces that can speed up the process. Place your running hat and number belt in an accessible spot to grab as you head out for the final leg of the race.

Regularly practicing these transitions will not only improve your efficiency but also build the necessary composure to handle these high-pressure moments during competition. By becoming adept at moving from one phase of the race to the next, you’re effectively minimizing the overall time spent transitioning, giving you a competitive edge in your triathlon endeavors.

Key Points:

  • Familiarize yourself with the layout of transition areas in triathlon races.

  • Practice quick and efficient transitions to minimize time lost during the race.

  • Experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you.

Example Exercise: 

Set up a mock transition area at home or in a local park. Practice transitioning from swimming to cycling and from cycling to running, focusing on speed and efficiency.

The Benefits of Working with a Professional Male or Female Personal Trainer in Abu Dhabi or Dubai for Triathlon Preparation and Training

Working with a professional male or female personal trainer in Abu Dhabi or Dubai can provide numerous benefits for triathlon preparation and training. These trainers have expertise in triathlon-specific training, can tailor programs to your individual needs, and provide guidance and support throughout your journey.

Key Points:

  • Personal trainers can assess your current fitness level and design a customized training plan.

  • They can provide expert guidance on technique, form, and race strategy.

  • Trainers offer motivation, accountability, and support to help you stay on track.

Q&A

Q: How long does it take to train for a triathlon?
A: The duration of training depends on various factors, including your current fitness level, the distance of the triathlon, and your goals. Generally, it is recommended to allow at least 12-16 weeks of focused training for a sprint triathlon, while longer distances may require more time.

Q: Can I train for a triathlon if I’m a beginner?
A: Absolutely! Triathlons are open to participants of all fitness levels. With proper guidance, gradual progression, and consistency, beginners can successfully train for and complete a triathlon.

Q: Do I need expensive equipment to train for a triathlon?
A: While having high-quality gear can enhance your experience, it is not necessary to invest in expensive equipment when starting out. Focus on acquiring the essentials, such as a suitable bike, helmet, and comfortable running shoes, and gradually upgrade as needed.

Q: How do I prevent injuries during triathlon training?
A: Injury prevention is crucial in any training program. Incorporate strength training, flexibility exercises, and proper warm-up and cool-down routines into your training plan. Listen to your body, avoid over training, and seek professional advice if you experience persistent pain or discomfort.

In Summary.....

Remember, safety should always be a priority. Listen to your body, follow a well-structured training plan, and enjoy the journey towards your first triathlon. With consistent effort and dedication, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenge. Good luck!

Abu Dhabi Female Swim Coach For Kids and Adults - Anna

Abu Dhabi Female Swimming Coach - Anna

Anna is from the Northeast of England in the UK and is a fully qualified Swimming Teacher. Anna has experience working in the Middle East in Qatar in an International British School, and in the UK as a Swim School Coordinator and Swimming Teacher.

Anna specialises in Learn to Swim and for the past 11 years has worked with Swim England’s Learn to Swim programme Stages 1-10.

As well as being qualified to teach all four competitive swimming strokes, Anna has worked with swimmers in ‘Pre-Squad’ programmes as well as in the other aquatic disciplines of Artistic Swimming, Diving and Water Polo. Anna enjoys teaching Water Skills and Water Safety and actively encourages children to explore safe self-rescue techniques during lessons.

Outside of work, Anna enjoys Yoga, HIIT based workouts, outdoor activities such as hiking, and martial arts. Anna has previously taken part in Ironman triathlons and has completed three of these to date. Anna has also completed the Abu Dhabi Long Course triathlon.

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