Virtually Perfect

After hearing about the new solution that promises customising your smile with the latest innovations in dentistry, Team TMN headed off to see if we can make our dream teeth a reality…

What: Creating a virtually perfect smile with Dr. Sofia’s Digital Smile Design

Where: Euromed Clinic Center, Jumeirah Beach Road

When: From 9am until 7pm, Saturday to Thursday and closed on Friday

The promise: The Digital Smile Design software will combine the benefits of science, technology and art to allow you and a dental expert to create your perfect smile.

Did it Deliver? The experience of the Digital Smile Design (DSD) software was completely different from what Team TMN had expected, it was not like our usual dentist appointments, but more of a team effort to getting that dream smile. As we arrived at the villa the lovely receptionist greeted and offered us something to drink while we waited. With cucumber and mint water in our hand, we filled out a form with basic information about our health, family history and how much pain we could tolerate.

Our DSD session was conducted by Cosmetics Dentist, Dental Lasers Specialist and Implantologist, Dr. Sofia Aravopoulou who was very detailed and professional throughout the process. She made us feel at ease immediately as she greeted us with a warm and welcoming smile, and walking us upstairs to her office for our consultation. We were asked to describe in detail an idea of what we would like our smile to look like or which part of our smile we wanted to change, and with the DSD software as well as Dr. Sofia’s recommendations, she was ready to give our teeth an upgrade. Dr. Sofia briefly explained the process then began to examine our teeth and check the state of our dentition to know whether we had any previous work done or needed anything to be done to our teeth as well as to design and look for the smile that suited us. So in case of having had work done previously to the teeth or the need for a few adjustments, Dr. Sofia has the solution to make the necessary changes that will create a smile that is well suited and is the right fit to each individual.

The next step was to get our face photographed and videoed to be sure that our designed smile will feel right. Dr. Sofia then created a mock-up of the teeth described and customised it based on our face and teeth structure, this is sent to a local lab that allows all the work to be flexible and done quick. The mock-up that was created was very realistic, as we didn’t expect every detail of our dream teeth to be brought to life. The veneers produced are set temporary, and worn for a few days to ensure that we are completely satisfied and gives us a chance to make any changes. So, for those of us that wanted longer looking teeth to fit our facial structure, she is able to laser the gum slightly and bond it up to make the teeth look longer, or if we have gaps between our teeth, she can fill in the gaps by adding bond material instead of using veneers to close up the spaces and if small enough can help perfect that smile. What we really appreciated about this is that Dr. Sofia has all of the tools and know-how to get our teeth to the place we want the best way possible.

The DSD software has different options that can be used for the perfect smile and Dr. Sofia doesn’t just do veneers, but also whitening, bonding and crowns, which all depends on what is needed, whether it is to create an entirely new smile or correct aspects of the smile in some cases if needed. She can also pop off the veneers without damaging for any fixes after setting it in place. What the digital software does is that it uses an algorithm that is based on the type of smile, the gum line, the shape of the jaw and face, allowing us to select the type of dentition that will fit and create our virtual smile. The beauty of it all is that we didn’t have to just trust what we want or her word, but we could create, see in real life and confirm whether we chose the right smile before doing any work on our teeth. DSD in its collaborative nature offers the opportunity for us to work together with the experts and have a definitive say in what our teeth will look like when finished.

The verdict: The entire process from the first consultation, to designing and customising our desired teeth gives us the chance to be involved in bringing to life the very smile we want and one that will be a perfect fit, which makes DSD different from other treatments. At AED 1500 per session, the DSD treatment is not cheap, but favors well in knowing that you will be involved in creating the smile you want through the precise and detailed process of examining of not only your teeth, but other facial features as well. Overall, DSD is a concept that Team TMN will recommend not only for when you have disfigured teeth or a medical and dental history, but also to be able to achieve or upgrade to a natural and unique smile that best fits your facial features and structure.

Free Fallin’

Team TMN voluntarily threw themselves into the world’s largest wind tunnel to get a taste of what the real-deal skydiving experience feels like…

What: Inflight Dubai, Indoor skydive experience

Where: Skydive Dubai Desert Campus

When: Inflight Dubai is open all week, from 10am until 7pm

The Promise: With a team of world-class instructors, state-of-the-art facilities and the most advanced vertical wind tunnel on the planet, experience the thrill of skydiving without actually jumping off a plane.

Did it Deliver?

With Dubai’s presence increasingly growing on the ‘places-to-visit’ map for tourists around the world, Skydive Dubai has made a mark for itself with the infamous photograph of a person floating over the Palm Jumeirah, which is given as a memoir to each of those fearless residents or tourist that decide to take the leap. While each member of Team TMN has dreamt of hopping off that plane and updating our facebook cover photo to show-off our bravery to the world, not many of us have mustered the courage to give it a go. However, when we were introduced to Inflight Dubai, the world’s biggest vertical wind tunnel with fans that whip up a wind speed of 282kmph, we were eager to try it out.

Flyers, first time or experienced can book their appointments online via the ‘Booking’ tab on the website. Inflight Dubai welcomes individuals as well as families and large groups to participate – packages range from the minimum, which is two minutes of flight time at AED262, all the way up to one-hour tunnel time that can accommodate up to 24 flyers (one at a time). We booked ourselves a ‘Buddy Package’ for two, with two minutes each.

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by an enthusiastic lot at the reception of the Skydive Dubai Desert Campus who briefed us on the wind tunnel and inquired about any health conditions that could get in the way of our flying experience. Instructors at Inflight Dubai are trained to work with flyers of varied fitness backgrounds and disabilities, as long as they’re older than three years of age. We were made to sign a waver to confirm that we’re physically able to withstand the wind-draft and were then introduced to our instructor for the day, Jennie.

Extremely spirited and kind, Jennie took us up to the locker room and zipped us into a flight suit and a funky little helmet. We were asked to empty out our pockets and take off all jewellery to avoid it getting misplaced. It’s best to come wearing lace-up trainers, however, Inflight Dubai provides rental shoes if the flyer’s footwear is not flight-appropriate. After we were armed with our flight-gear, Jennie proceeded to give us a presentation on safety as well as demonstrated the right posture that needs to be maintained while in the tunnel. She briefed us on hand signals and gestures that would be required in-flight and made sure we’re all set for our flight, which included steps on how to enter and exit the tunnel.

We headed downstairs to the entrance of the massive tunnel, where we were provided with earplugs and goggles to protect ourselves from the blast of wind that we were about to encounter. Jennie went over the safety instructions once more and then helped us plunge into the tunnel and stay afloat and eventually swivel all the way up to the top. We started at roughly three feet off the ground and soared up to easily 20 feet above! In-tunnel cameras record the entire process and snap several pictures of you while you’re in there.

Once our minutes were done and we departed the tunnel, we stepped out of our jumpsuits and headed back to the reception where they showed us the footage from our flight and honoured us with personalised flight certificates claiming that we’ve ‘defied gravity at terminal velocity in the world’s biggest windtunnel.’

The Verdict: It may seem incredibly short in real-time, but two to eight minutes of in-flight time is more than enough to experience the thrill and adrenaline of skydiving. Team TMN is sure to head back since return flyers enjoy a massive discount following the first visit.

Kiss Tension Goodbye

When Team TMN found out about a new cupping therapy that promises to provide health and slimming benefits, we couldn’t wait to put it to the test…

What: Cup Kiss body massage – Chinese cupping massage therapy.

Where: Tips & Toes, Al Barsha

When: Tips and Toes is open from 10am until 10pm from Sunday to Thursday and 10am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

The promise: The Cup Kiss body massage is an ancient Chinese therapy dating back thousands of years and was used to treat royals and superiors. The therapy utilises special vacuum silicon cups to squeeze out excess fluids and toxins from the body while reducing stress levels and loosening the muscles.

Did it Deliver? The Cup Kiss body massage is nothing like Team TMN had imagined, it was the epitome of a perfect spa experience. As we walked into the spa, we were greeted by the receptionist who was warm and welcoming, making us feel comfortable. We were then directed to the spa waiting room where we sat on cabana beds while waiting for our session to start. The soothing sound of running water in the fountain created a peaceful atmosphere along with the dimmed lights and calming interior building the perfect aura for that unforgettable experience.

The lovely lady that gave us the massage was clearly a professional and her gentle techniques put us at ease immediately. She first introduced herself, then we were given warm lavender scented towels to put on and asked to lie face down in a comfortable position. The therapy then began with her aligning our body so that we were lying straight, she then rubbed oil over our body in a light circular motion, massaged to balance the blood flow and loosen the tension in our muscles. The cups were up next. She placed light silicon vacuum cups that were no wider than a small bottled water, on different parts of the body using it to kiss the skin underneath and pulling it downwards with our muscles to squeeze out excess fluids and toxins that appear as cellulite. She started from across the top of our shoulders all the way down the back, then from the spine out, basically working with our muscles. The process continued for the whole 90 minute session and throughout we could feel how gentle the cups were placed on our body, it didn’t even feel like it was sucking up our skin and pulling it to the surface.

After we had ended the session, it is safe to say that we wished this moment would not come to an end and found ourselves in a deep semi-trance. When we stepped out of the session we could already feel our muscles loose and extremely relaxed. We were asked whether we wanted to have anything to drink and at that point a lemon ginger tea seemed like the right beverage to slowly ease us back to reality. The combination of a 90 minute cupping massage, a soothing atmosphere and calming tea was the perfect spa experience to kiss the tension goodbye.

The verdict: The aftermath of the therapy session lasted for nearly two weeks and we never knew our muscles could feel that relaxed. It was also to our surprise that unlike other cupping therapies that will always leave circle marks after the session, this one was a light dose of a traditional and ancient treatment that left no marks. The use of silicon cups prevented any marks from appearing on the skin and helped with the sucking process during the session. However, although the cupping was moderately done all over our body, we did feel more suction when done on our legs and thighs, which was the only pain we felt and was so subtle – it barely even disturbed our snooze. Thus, realistically speaking for just AED275 to AED320, we would recommend it once or twice a month as it improves circulation, heightens energy levels, reduces spider veins and helps even out hormone imbalances.

The French twist

When Team TMN were invited to experience the new Apero menu that promises authentic French delicacies at Couqley Bistro and Restaurant, we couldn’t wait to see if the dining experience lived up to its reputation.

What: The new Apero menu, Couqley Bistro and Restaurant

Where: Laguna Tower, Mövenpick, Jumeirah Lake Towers

When: Couqley Bistro and Restaurant is open from 12pm until 12am, with the Apero menu served from 4pm to 8pm daily.

The Promise: “Couqley is a French bistro that oozes charm and traditional Parisian flare! With recipes inspired by Chef Alex Couquelet’s grandfather, guests are guaranteed the most authentic and unique French dining experience that Dubai has to offer.”

Did it deliver: The entrance was narrow yet intriguing in a way that left us curious of what to expect when we stepped into the main dining area of the bistro and as we had hoped, we were not disappointed. Stepping inside, the interior was a reminiscent of the 1950’s artisan workshops of Paris with mosaic stone floors and a cozy indoor terrace seating as well as a bar and dining space. The walls had that old brick texture to it with bulky framed pictures, adding that French subtlety to the atmosphere, giving us the feeling of being in a completely different time and place.

As we decided to go for the terrace seating area, we were greeted by our lovely waiter for the evening who then introduced himself and handed us the much-awaited menu to get the evening started. First, we ordered a bottle of white wine to sip on while we browsed through the menu. We then proceeded with the starters, the Poelee De Champignons was first on the list. The delicacy was a beautiful medley of sautéed wild mushrooms and crumbly puff pastry served with light creamy sauce which took our breath away. The thought that mushrooms can have that bursting flavour with a French twist to it, was astonishing. Next up was the Tartare De Thon, which took an adventurous turn, the combination of marinated raw tuna tartare with sesame seeds, scallions, fresh herbs toppled with leek tempura crisps was another unexpected taste that we couldn’t get over. The taste of raw tuna was completely different with the flavours of the scallions and fresh herbs to add to it, leaving our taste buds in a mix of an exciting and unique aftertaste of that French dining experience.

Switching it up a notch, we decided to try out the signature selection of ‘Boeuf’ from the menu. The Mini Burger Trio was the perfect option for us. Tasting the mini classic American-style burgers filled with cheddar cheese and served with pommes frites simply sealed the evening for us. The simplicity of the meal might sound like any other restaurant, but this was completely different. From the juicy burgers to the tender potato fries, we could taste the unique flavours that gave the marinated beef a distinct taste from the regular burgers that we knew to one with a Parisian flare.

Verdict: Its reputation, we will say, precedes it. The selection from the Apero menu was as exciting and authentic as promised. The feeling of being lost in a different era that had a strong French touch to it is the only way we could explain it. The food was mind blowing to the fact that nothing was, as it seemed. The flavours were different and unique making every bite better than the previous. And the wine at 19AED per glass and 89AED per bottle was the perfect price to pay for that dining experience. However, although the menu had loads of options to choose from, we did find it very restricted for vegetarians and vegans with limited options to choose from. Although the menu might be a little restricted, we do recommend the place for a celebratory dinner, romantic night out or a night with friends, to get a taste of what it is like to dine Paris – Dubai style.

Scarlet Fever

What: Scarlet skin treatment

Where: Obagi Medispa

When: Obagi Medispa is open from 9am until 8pm daily. Scarlet treatments must be booked in advance.

The promise: “Obagi Medispa’s new treatment is the closest thing possible to the imaginary Fountain of Youth. This exceptional skin treatment utilises radio frequency energy to reduce saggy skin, wrinkles, large pores and acne scars.”

Did it deliver? Obagi Medispa is very much how Team TMN imagine a posh doctor’s surgery 500 years in the future will look. Occupying a palatial villa located in Jumeirah, the Medispa is understatedly luxurious; immaculate, open, bright and airy with a pool in the yard and valet parking upon arrival. As we entered the villa, Team TMN were approached to fill in forms about our general health and directed towards a large waiting area with gender-specific waiting areas, before we were taken to Dr. Inas’ office.

Dr. Inas was a lovely, incredibly knowledgeable and attentive doctor, who asked further questions about our skin and medical history – specifically whether we had previously had any kind of procedures done to our faces – before thoroughly explaining the Scarlet facial treatment and all processes involved. Scarlet, we were told, is not a facial; it is a rejuvenation treatment that works by developing collagen cells in the skin. Dr. Inas then proceeded to examine our faces for target areas before cleansing and applying a numbing cream which felt slightly bizarre but was, we soon discovered, highly necessary.

We won’t lie at this point; the treatment was not exactly soothing. One member of TMN described it as an ‘almost-tattoo of the face’ as we were zapped with an electronic pen to stimulate collagen production. Thankfully, Dr. Inas didn’t use the pen – something that looked a little bit like a weapon in a low-budget sci-fi film – on any sensitive areas, although it did cause some areas (foreheads in particular) to become more sensitive than they were before. Having said that, we imagine that the sensations caused by the Scarlet treatment were only a fraction as painful as having actual surgery, which would also be a lot more invasive than, and the whole procedure only took around 30 minutes. Once the treatment was done, we chatted to Dr. Inas for a while longer as she explained any after-effects of the treatment and told us that we weren’t to clean the skin, apply makeup, or do anything to make us sweat for six hours. Leaving the clinic, we could feel our skin pleasantly tighten, almost as though it had been really, really thoroughly cleansed and washed.

The verdict: The effects of the Scarlet skin treatment were immediately visible – jawlines looked more pronounced, skin looked and felt tighter and almost thinner. The treatment also felt much more natural then alternative versions; perhaps because of its non-invasive nature or perhaps because it is recommended that Scarlet is carried out over a number of sessions to provide optimum results. At between AED 2500 and AED 4000 a session, Scarlett isn’t a cheap treatment but it does compare favourably to surgery and offers similar, youthful results. Overall, it’s a treatment that Team TMN would definitely recommend for those looking for a younger, more radiant complexion, without wanting to go under the knife.

Pura and simple

When Team TMN found out about a new meal delivery service that promises to provide healthy results through clean eating, we couldn’t wait to put it to the test…

What: Pura – Clean food, clean body meal delivery programme.

Where: Delivered to your door

When: Meals delivered the day before consumption, at a pre-selected time slot

The Promise: “Founded by best friends and avid chefs Colm Carmody and Gavin Gleeson who, between them, have worked in five star hotels and michelin-starred restaurants, Pura began as a fusion of Gavin’s love of fitness and Colm’s passion to create healthy, tasty food. All plans are personalised to provide maximum results.”

Did it Deliver? The process for signing up to Pura is not a massively short one, but it does ensure that all dietary requirements are taken into consideration, leaving you with a highly personalised meal plan. Following a quick phone call from a representative to discuss our meal plan options, Team TMN were presented with a form to fill in which asked questions about diet, aims for the programme, intolerances and preferences. We proved a fairly fussy bunch, requesting a mainly plant-based diet with some fish, no dairy, no mushrooms and no aubergines. After the form was submitted, a menu was drafted and sent across to us for approval.

When our first box of food turned up, containing multiple containers and meals, it was a bit like a healthy, foodie Christmas. There was a massive amount delivered, all super fresh and colourful in appearance. The volume of food that arrived was a little intimidating at first, but when this was broken down into the portions and meals specified by our meal plan, it seemed a lot more manageable and exciting – the prospect of a healthy eating programme that encouraged us to eat was a massive bonus for Team TMN!

Overall, our meals were incredibly tasty. Pura’s focus on macronutrients, as opposed to calorie-counting, means that ‘clean’ ingredients are chosen for their nutritional value and positive impacts as opposed to calorie content, which kept everything fresh and flavoursome, and feeling a whole lot more sustainable than the average diet plan which relies on depravation and will power alone. The protein pancakes for breakfast, with fresh blueberries, proved a particular hit with Team TMN, so much so that we are still craving them. Each meal contains protein, carbohydrate and fat elements – for example, white fish comes with a side of fibrous veg and coconut oil – and all of these were served in perfect portions so we were left feeling full without feeling like we’d overdone it.

By the end of the month-long meal plan, we felt considerably lighter and more energetic. The fact that our mid-sections were thinning out was a massive bonus, considering that health and fitness were our initial goals, as opposed to weight loss. With phone calls from Pura every week to see how we were doing, alongside emails to check our progress, the combination of automated and personal service allowed us to make any changes without skipping a beat. We were inspired to continue a clean eating lifestyle and can still feel improvements! The plan has definitely helped Team TMN on our health kick and it’s a great all-rounder for people who want to feel better about themselves and their bodies by creating a sustainable lifestyle that’s a lot more convenient than others on offer. We also loved the fact that the individual meals were ready to go, so all we had to do was carry our coolbag with us and we were set for the day!

The Verdict: Pura is a fantastic option for people with a genuine interest in being healthy and treating their body well. The macro nutrient focus of the meal plans means that meals are individually tailored to help you meet goals without feeling deprived or starved. Quality of ingredients and regularity of meals makes Pura a considerably better investment than a lot of other plans or ‘detox’ programmes, and we would definitely recommend this to our gym loving friends, as the meals on offer can be specifically designed to perfectly accompany different levels of exercise. The way Pura meals are designed and delivered also makes them perfect for professionals looking for a health-kick, as they require nothing in the way of food prep and can be carried around for the whole day – allowing you to eat well-sized portions of healthy, clean food while not having to slow down.

An opulent offering

When Team TMN were invited to experience a luxury Iftar we got ourselves down to Jumeirah Beach Hotel to see what one of Dubai’s most well-known venues had to offer for the holy month of Ramadan…

What: Iftar at the Majlis Al Safinah, Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Where: Majlis Al Safinah, Jumeirah Beach Hotel

When: Every day during Ramadan, from sunset until 8.45pm

The promise: “Situated within the beautiful Safinah Ballroom, Majlis Al Safinah is a contemporary space that breathes life into the traditions of Ramadan. Impeccably decorated and elegantly furnished, the Majlis Al Safinah blends prestigious Jumeirah hospitality with culinary excellence.”

Did it deliver? Jumeirah’s Majlis Al Safinah space looks nothing short of full-on opulence. From the red and gold décor, to the shimmering accents, lanterns and huge selection of flowers, the room exudes an aura of decadence from the moment you step in. An enormous yet unintimidating space, the room’s layout somehow manages to accommodate smaller tables and create an intimate ambience, alongside the larger seating areas for groups and parties. Waiters are attentive without being overbearing and float around the space, offering fresh juices and mocktails, including a particularly tasty apple blossom drink.

After being seated with a drink and having broken our fast with a few dates that were plated on the table, Team TMN ventured towards the enormous selection of food on offer. Traditional Arabic salads and lamb ouzi were on display alongside less traditional offerings such as roast beef with all of the trimmings, garlic and chilli marinated grilled prawns as well as mixed noodles. All of the food that we sampled was prepared to an excellent culinary standard. The roasted root vegetables, prawns and traditional salads proved particular hits with the more health-conscious members of Team TMN! The variety of food on offer meant that even the pickiest of eaters were happy and the high quality of ingredients used ensured that everything was exceptionally tasty.

Following the starters and main courses, we felt it would be rude to ignore the vast number of delicious-looking desserts that were on display, taking up nearly one third of the buffet area; so we took it upon ourselves to tackle the sweets. The desserts can only be described as heavenly – from Arabic sweets to fruit tarts, every possible form of chocolate you can imagine was available (including an enormous chocolate fountain) to home-made ice creams and freshly hulled coconuts. We were particularly fond of the strawberry custard tarts, although could have happily scoffed seconds of all the sweets on offer, if we had not been already full from the delicious main dishes.

Sitting back with a cup of tea to chat amongst ourselves and our guests, we took a moment to look around and admire the lovely venue once again, noting the friendly atmosphere and effortlessly relaxed vibe that seems typical of Dubai around this time of year.

The verdict: Iftar at Majlis Al Safinah is not a particularly subtle affair. It is, however, a wonderful way to wile away a special evening with friends, colleagues or family over the month of Ramadan. The atmosphere within the Majlis area is that of a community, which is befitting the time of year, the food and service on offer is truly impeccable. At AED210 per head, this isn’t a terribly cheap Iftar, although the quality on offer renders it excellent value in our eyes. The leisurely pace of the iftar, as well as the sheer size of the venue, means that this is a much more luxurious offering and would also be an excellent way of introducing visitors to the concept of an Iftar.

Top-to-toe pampering

What: Spa launch experience

Where: Tips & Toes, Golden Mile, Palm Jumeirah

When: Every day from 9am – 10pm

The promise: “A cross between the traditional nail haven and the full-service day spa, the luxuriously furnished 3,663 square foot sanctuary is perfectly placed to cater to the beauty conscious ladies of new Dubai.”

Did it deliver? With our hectic schedules, it’s a rare thing for Team TMN to get the time to really pamper ourselves and so when the opportunity arose to check out the new Tips & Toes Signature Spa on the Golden Mile, we leapt to it, in the hope of finding a new beauty haven. Being located at the entrance to the Golden Mile meant that not only did the spa benefit from being easy to find, but there was also plenty of covered parking available – a rarity for spas and salons located outside of vast shopping malls or hotels. The Tips & Toes venue itself is gorgeous, decorated in the chain’s signature jewel colours, with spacious and well-lit rooms – no dim lights to disguise dodgy nail finishings here.

After choosing our colours from a rainbow of nail varnish options, we sank into our cushion-clad spa chairs while therapists got to work. Nails were filed into neat oval shapes (as requested), while hands and feet were scrubbed, buffed and moisturised to perfection. All the while, much to our utter delight, we were treated to the most thoroughly relaxing head, neck and shoulder massages that we’ve had in any spa. It’s rare that any of Team TMN are able to totally zone out and relax, however on this occasion, we found ourselves happily gazing into the far distance, on the verge of cat-napping.

It was with heavy sighs that we eventually got up to move our magnificently manicured nails to the adjoining hair spa. After taking our seats at the washing stations, we had our manes washed with gorgeous-smelling products – each selected to best benefit our hair types and styles. Our clean, lightly-scented hair was then blow-dried into shape before being styled to our liking by friendly and professional stylists.

All of the treatments at Tips & Toes were administered by knowledgeable staff who took care to ask us our preferences – preferred nail shape, cuticle treatment, pressure during the massage and heat application for hair styling were all issues that therapists discussed with us and happily worked to avoid causing any trouble or discomfort. We left Tips & Toes feeling pampered, preened and styled to perfection.

The verdict:  We loved all of the treatments that we tried and the spa itself is beautifully appointed with friendly and extremely professional staff. Most impressively, the manicure and pedicure lasted for a full week before chipping and at only AED140 for a mani/pedi and AED60 for an additional neck and shoulder massage, we felt these treatments offered excellent value for money. Affordable treatments paired with easily parking means that we have found our new go-to beauty destination.

Moment of Zen

When Team TMN heard about a new yoga technique that promises relaxation as well as better movement and mindsets, we went in search of our moment of calm… 

What: Yoga Foundations with therapy balls

Where: Zen Yoga, Dubai Media City

When: Mondays and Wednesdays at 8.15pm

The promise: “The objective of the class is to increase people’s body awareness to allow them to move better, feel better and take what they’ve learned to other Yoga classes, and their daily activities.”

Did it deliver? It was with great skepticism that Team TMN attended the Yoga Foundations class with therapy balls at Zen Yoga. Each of us have tried yoga before, but always had similar results – yawning or drifting off into space after around five minutes, mostly as a result of our own impatience or incredibly short attention spans. However, once we had entered the dimly lit classroom in Zen Yoga and sat by our mats, blankets and yoga balls, we were hit by an unusual feeling for those of us who work in Dubai – ease.

Having arrived at Zen Yoga filled with all the frustrations of the day – minds racing from meetings, tasks to add to a ‘to-do’ list and trouble with traffic, it was strange to feel so calm, so quickly after starting. To our joy (and relief) the class began with some simple steps using the myofascial yoga balls on our backs to unknot tension by simply rolling on them and practicing breathing techniques. We instantly felt as if the weight of the day had been lifted. The therapy balls are supposed to pry apart scar tissue, adhesions and knots by mimicking the touch of a massage therapist, allowing blood flow and water to return to dry and stiff parts of the body. We can’t say for sure if they did this, but they did seem to have a soothing effect on us, aiding in the ‘switching off’ process.

Our instructor, Emilie, was incredibly friendly and professional, managing to make even total beginners feel welcome and a part of the class’s yoga community. She took us through movements that come from Yoga Tune Up, which is a form of mobility training combining elements of yoga with physical therapy principles. This meant that yoga poses were broken down to teach us how to engage the right muscles, as well as how to disengage muscles that tend to work too hard. The clear and concise anatomical language that Emilie used was incredibly interesting, and helped us to understand exactly what we were doing, without causing us to switch off as a result of obscure jargon.

As the class came to an end, we felt a sense of collective calm and wellbeing that is rare to achieve after just one class. Having good knowledge of the poses and techniques that we’d learnt was especially useful in making sense of the processes involved in the classes.

The Verdict: We certainly left feeling considerably calmer, more focused and a lot more relaxed. Team TMN thoroughly enjoyed the 75 minutes of Zen and will definitely be back for more.

Jars of goodness

When Team TMN found out about a new, health-conscious option for a lunchtime delivery, we couldn’t resist putting this home-grown concept to the test…

What: The Salad Jar 

Where: Delivered directly to your home/office/school

When: Delivers Sunday – Thursday, orders must be placed by 11am on the day of delivery. Orders are delivered between 9.30am – 11am, and 11.30am – 1pm.

The promise: “We pack as many Superfoods as possible into one jar, because you know what they say – you are what you eat – and we want you to be super. In terms of goodness, The Salad Jars pack a lot of punch!”

Did it deliver? The sheer number of take-out options for lunch in Dubai is endless. With new cafes and restaurants popping up left, right and centre in the city it’s difficult to keep track. Many of these offer the same unhealthy, processed meal in newer, shinier packaging. However, we’re glad to report that the same can’t be said for all – enter The Salad Jar. A home-grown concept and the brainchild of Danielle Sallam, the service started from her own kitchen and has rapidly expanded ever since. The Salad Jar aims to offer healthier lunchtime options to those of us who are too busy to make our own.

Following a quick chat with Danielle over the phone – an optional way to order, as The Salad Jar now has its own app to make lunchtimes even easier – Team TMN decided on a selection of salads in regular and large sizes to really put the service to the test. Having taken into account our food preferences and allergies, such as cheese in the case of one member of the TMN team, Danielle recommended D’s salad, Sweet Beet, and South Western salads.

Arriving promptly at midday, we inspected the salads delivered and were pleasantly surprised – each jar was generously filled with layers of different veg, pulses, grains and other gooness. The jars were generously sized, with a large salad easily being enough for two people, and looked bright and appetizing – even to the adamantly carnivorous of us. D’s salad was a lovely balance of sweet and tangy, with the sweet potato, red pepper and raisins providing sweetness and the Dijon and vinaigrette dressing adding zing. Quinoa and chickpeas gave good crunch and made the salad filling enough to last us until dinner. The Sweet Beet salad felt distinctly Middle Eastern, perhaps due to the addition of dates, and its balsamic and honey dressing went perfectly. The use of barley was an interesting choice too, giving an unusual texture and a flavour that really complimented the sweetness of the other ingredients. South Western was a favourite with team TMN – the cilantro and olive oil dressing was zesty with a hint of chili, giving the perfect kick to the mix of black and white beans, corn, cucumber, tomato and avocado. Each salad was distinct in flavour, though all managed to combine sweet and savoury as well as provide enough substance to fill us up for the day. The fact the pulses and grans used were slow-release carbohydrates was also beneficial, as they stopped us from crashing and didn’t have us immediately reaching for biscuits a few hours after lunch!

The Verdict: The Salad Jar is an excellent addition to Dubai’s fast food scene, as it provides a truly healthy alternative to standard take-out fare. Though it can be a hassle deciding on what to have for lunch before 11am (or even the day before), the delivery service is reassuringly prompt and the option to cancel is always available should you need it. Team TMN would highly recommend this as the ideal lunch option for those of us trying to stay healthy, but without the time to prepare salads every morning before work.