Physique-ing Abroad: From NYC to Dubai and Back

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Instructor, Erin Bellis, has had quite the journey with Physique 57. She was hired in the summer of 2013 to help open Physique 57’s first international studio in Dubai. After a 3 year stint in Dubai, helping to open their first and second studio, she’s back home in NYC! Below she shares her experience in Dubai, what she misses most about the Middle East & more. 

You helped launch the first Physique 57 international studio! Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?
Helping to launch the first Physique 57 in Dubai was a very rewarding experience. Clients had been hearing a lot about us opening and were already excited to try it out. Once they came they were instantly addicted and many of our clients are still with us today! Our main studio was still under construction when we first got there so we opened in a temporary space. This limited the classes but we were able to team teach and give the clients a lot of attention. It is a very unique technique and the more hands on and specific we were the better the experience was for them. We also discovered that we had to demonstrate a lot throughout the class and speak more slowly because of the language barrier. We had to teach our clients to push themselves and embrace the “burn” in order to see and feel the changes. We were able to teach and show our clients all of the things their bodies could do that they never thought was possible. I am so grateful for this opportunity because I was not only seeing the changes in our clients’ bodies but also in their health and well being.

Did you experience culture shock when you arrived?
I arrived in Dubai on July, 2013, which happened to be the first day of Ramadan. This is UAE’s most holy month, where Muslims will fast from dawn to sunset. You are not allowed to eat or drink in public while the sun is up, and you should dress respectfully even though it’s 120 degrees outside. With this being said, I definitely had quite a bit of culture shock. However, come night time, the city became alive and the festivities were amazing. Aside from Ramadan, the rest of the year is like living in a western society. Dubai has so many expats and they really try to bring things to the country that  are familiar and help them feel like they are at home. The weather in the winter was also amazing which made things even better.

What do you miss the most about Dubai?
The friends that I made in Dubai is what I miss the most. You meet people from all over the world and everyone has experienced the same things you have moving to another part of the world. They’re not just your friends but more like family. When my friends and family would visit me in Dubai, the first thing people would say to me was how nice my friends were.  I am very grateful for that.

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What did you miss the most about New York?
The thing I missed most about New York was how easy it is to walk everywhere! Dubai is a very large city and it’s not easy to walk to places. In New York, you can just take a day walking around and get lost finding new cafes, stores, restaurants and bars. It feels great to be able to walk and explore again.

We know you got to travel a lot while out there – what was your favorite place you visited? And if you can’t pick, give us your top three!
The amount of travel you can do while living in Dubai is a huge advantage. Out of all the places I visited, I would say Sri Lanka was my favorite place. It’s a beautiful country Southeast of India and is only a four-hour plane ride from Dubai. It is small enough where you can take a week and explore the whole country and get a different experience each place you go to. If you want to surf, go hiking, visit cultural sites, or just relax on the beach, you can do it all there. Exploring new cultures is the beauty about traveling and Sri Lankan’s are some of the friendliest people I have met. They really take care of their tourists.

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What was your favorite healthy food place there? And your favorite cheat place?
Limetree is my favorite healthy spot in Dubai. They have a limited selection but the menu changes all the time and their food is fresh. I also love their ambience so that is a plus. My guilty pleasure would have to be Krush Burger. It is a burger place where you can order two different mini burgers of your choice and they have sweet potato tater tots, which were amazing!!

Now that you’re back teaching in NYC, what’s the biggest difference you noticed from teaching in Dubai?
I think the biggest change to teaching in New York is that there are no “Ladies Only” classes. Most of our classes in Dubai were for ladies only because most of our clients will not workout in front of men so we had to be very conscious for when men could take our class. No need to worry about that in New York and my fiancé is very happy that he can take class whenever he wants to!

We’re thrilled that Erin had such an amazing experience in Dubai and are so excited to have her back teaching in NYC. Sign up for one of her classes here.

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