Male fitness enthusiasts going through pole dance routines at Pole Fit Dubai Image Credit: Clint Egbert/XPRESS

Dubai: You must have seen girls in boxing sessions, but boys in a barre or pole dance classes? Well, that’s not strange anymore. Men are now increasingly opting for fitness regimes that were traditionally thought to be women’s only as they realise these workouts offer them something more than what their usual routines do.

The new trend has led to fitness centres here offering mixed gender classes in barre and pole dancing.

“We started mixed gender classes last year, and now half the class is reserved for men,” says Maryam Fattahi Salaam, founder and CEO of Physique 57 Dubai, which offers some intense barre classes at its studios in City Walk and Al Thanya Mall.

Tough sessions

A typical barre class uses techniques inspired by ballet consisting of intensely concentrated, isolated movements, with several repetitions and very little rest between exercises.

“As feminine as ballet sounds, it’s actually quite the opposite. After my first class I was so sore I could barely walk,” says Francois Klasser, 37, who takes at least one barre class every week.

Experts believe men are now starting to appreciate the importance of strength and flexibility in contrast to being muscular and bulky.

Like barre, something as stereotyped as pole dancing has found some loyal men addicts. “What I thought was only for women is one of the manliest things I’ve come across,” says, Adel Haddad, a Canadian expat in Dubai.

Pole dancing is all about the core strength and is known to challenge everything you thought you could do with your body. “I didn’t think it was going to be so challenging. During the class, I can feel my abs in a way I never have,” adds Haddad.

While some men are in it for the challenge, others are in it out of curiosity. “I heard a female colleague talk about a pole dancing studio that allows men and I was eager to check what it felt like,” says Rahul Mirchandani, an IELTS faculty member in Dubai.

Pole Fit Dubai is another studio that offers mixed gender classes and offers personal sessions for men interested in pole dancing. “The numbers are increasing gradually, we are now close to the point of offering men’s only pole dance lessons,” says Sven Welti, male instructor at Pole Fit Dubai.