The Ballet Workout: Dubai’s Physique 57

Physique Cardio


After years of strenuous ballet training, the regular factory-like gym workout wasn’t the option I was looking when trying to  find a place to stay fit. During a recent visit home to New York I took what was called a “barre” class and was immediately hooked. The workout made use of a ballet barre and also incorporating strength training moves and Pilates exercises. I remember thinking to myself that this was what Dubai’s fitness landscape was missing: a concept that merged the grace and strengthening postures of a ballet workout with cardiovascular exercise. In July 2013 American fitness concept Physique 57 launched its first studio outside of the US in Dubai. Since then, it’s gathered a massive following for its highly effective 57-minute workout combining ballet moves with strengthening and cardio exercises.



The concept has four studios in New York and one in Beverly Hills and has already become a hit workout with celebrities such as Demi Moore and Petra Nemcova. The great social media buzz, constant affirmative declarations I’d hear from friends at various social gatherings and the overall hype of Physique 57 made me want to try it for myself. I’d long been a fan of Pilates and yoga classes and still continued to dance a bit here and there, but was looking for something that merged all of my fitness interests.


The workout took place in a room with carpeted floors and wooden barres aligning each wall. We were told to wear socks and comfortable fitness clothing. The 57-minute workout out began with a series of light weight exercises to sculpt and tone coupled with cardiovascular moves. The instructor, a peppy American woman who clearly had a dance background, then had us go to the barre where we proceeded with exercises to sculpt our thighs, abs, legs and arms. These were offset with a few stretching postures in between as a cool-down before getting back into the strenuous groove of the class.

It was more challenging than I had expected; you can definitely feel your muscles burn during the class – a clear signal that the workout is working! And effective it is because Physique 57’s isometric exercises don’t target just one muscle group, but many. The majority of the workout concentrates on the core muscles so regular clients are sure to witness results in up to eight sessions. Moreover, as owner of the Dubai branch Maryam Fattahi Salaam explains, Physique 57 overloads the muscles with a technique called “interval overload.” This means that the muscle is worked to exhaustion and then relaxed through stretching or relief work – hence the burning of the session.

Salaam discovered the workout in New York just after the birth of her first child. She was immediately hooked and testifies how she saw the results by just her fourth class; she was able to get back to her pre-pregnancy body after just one month of regularly attending Physique 57 sessions.

While Physique 57 may not be as ballet oriented as I expected, it does blend core exercises from classical dance with cardiovascular exercise in a effective way. I came away feeling the benefits (and soreness) from an all-encompassing workout. It is surely one that I would try again and recommend to everyone struggling to find the right balance between what can easily become a mundane gym routine and something more invigorating as well as rewarding for the long, lean and toned body we’re all after.

Physique 57 is located in Jumeirah on Citywalk at the Intersection of Al Wasl and Al Safa Roads (adjacent to ENBD in Jumeirah)
Dubai. Tel: +971 4 344 8757.