Building a roar reputation: Sarah Lindsay on bringing Roar Fitness to Dubai

Sudhir Nair |

In the realm of fitness and personal training, few names command as much respect and admiration as Sarah Lindsay. A three-time Olympian, European gold medalist, and a luminary in the world of personal training, Sarah Lindsay, alongside her counterpart and husband, Rich Phillipps, has redefined the landscape of fitness coaching. Together, they founded Roar Fitness, where clients are immersed in an Olympic-level experience.

Roar Fitness provides comprehensive and cutting-edge personal training experience. Sarah Lindsay's influence transcends her remarkable athletic achievements; she is an inspiration for those striving to unlock their full potential. Her roster of clientele reads like a who's who of the entertainment industry, including the likes of Ellie Goulding, Nick Grimshaw, and Mel B, among others.

In an exclusive interview with Adgully Middle East, Sarah Lindsay offers insights into Roar Fitness's evolution, including its recent relocation from London to Dubai. Sarah delves into the ethos of Roar Fitness and the distinctive elements that set it apart in the competitive world of personal training.

Roar Fitness, originating in the UK, has expanded to Dubai.

What was the inspiration behind bringing Roar Fitness to Dubai, and what distinguishes it from other fitness establishments in the city?

So, we have three sites in London. We always wanted to go abroad, we just didn’t know where. We then came to Dubai during lockdown, fell in love with the city, and decided that we would do our first international expansion here.

ROAR is unique in that it offers a one-stop destination for our clients to come and train individually with their trainers, while also having regular check-ins with their nutritionist to see if they are keeping on track. Creating this very individualized experience for each of our clients means that there are very few people on the gym floor at one time – allowing our clients to feel safe and never judged while training.

Our trainers not only focus on the physical aspect of our clients but also their mental well-being, which I feel many gyms don’t do these days.

Both you and Rich Phillipps, the founders of Roar Fitness, have relocated from London to Dubai permanently. What motivated this decision?

Like so many people, the tax situation in the UAE is much better compared to the UK. My husband and I also relocated here permanently as unlike in London, no one knew who we were here and so, it was important for us to be here on ground, building the best team possible. It felt like we totally started from scratch, we took for granted how much easier it was for us in London, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it! So, coming to Dubai, and building ROAR’s reputation and building the team and recreate what we have managed to do well in London was our ultimate goal.

Could you provide insights into the variety of fitness programmes and services available at Roar Fitness?

We do private personal training only at ROAR, and are known for getting real results with clients. We have 8- and 12-week packages. The 12-week package is always the most popular because I think it means it’s not just a result achieved in the end, instead people form healthier habits, and it becomes part of their lifestyle. So that’s the most popular package at ROAR.

As mentioned earlier, training is very private at ROAR - there are a maximum of 9 people always on the gym floor at one time so clients always have plenty of space and can follow the program as it was designed for them. For example, in a commercial gym, if you are supposed to have 2 minutes rest between exercises, it can often turn into 6 minutes long because someone else is using the equipment. Now the program is kind of out the window, and you have to change exercises, which means there isn’t continuity in the program, or you end up taking too much rest.

At ROAR, you are not just simply exercising; there is a real method behind what you’re doing. It’s been planned and designed especially for you, to get you the results you came in for, whatever they are. We are known for the visual and aesthetic results, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to training and nutrition – clients come in and have all their assessments, a session with the nutritionist, and a movement screening which is how we design the plan. Your program is designed to facilitate the goal that you came in for. All trainers are trained in the ROAR method, so we are all working in the same way. It’s not freelance trainers, all working according to their own methods, which in turn creates a space of positive people coming together to achieve great things.

How does Roar Fitness Dubai prioritize the safety and well-being of its members, particularly amidst current health concerns?

When people sign up, we conduct a movement screening alongside the nutrition consultation. We check for stiffness, tightness, weaknesses, and potential for injuries. From that, the trainers decide which exercises are appropriate for each person’s body mechanics in order to keep them safe.

Roar Fitness is renowned for attracting celebrity clients. The privacy aspect that ROAR provides is a significant draw. We don’t offer classes; it’s only one-to-one training. No one is on their phone on the gym floor, and as far as I’m concerned, everyone is the same once you are on the gym floor in their shorts and t-shirts – nobody cares if there is a famous person in the room because everybody is just working hard, they are focused on what they are doing, so people don’t feel watched.

This highlights something important: just because someone is a celebrity and might feel conscious that they are being watched, that goes for everyone. Most people feel like that when they first start in the gym, they feel self-conscious and uncomfortable, and they feel like everyone is watching them, so we have done a lot to try to eliminate that feeling and make people feel comfortable and secure.

The other reason celebrities come to us is for the results. If they need to get in shape for something, a lot of these people are on television and are in the public eye, being criticized, and it does obviously heighten your sense of self-awareness, so if you want to get in shape or someone needs to get ready for an event, a movie, or a show then ROAR is the place they come to.

As far as the training goes, progressive overload is what we focus on. So, it's weight training using progressive overload to get people stronger, increase their muscle which improves their metabolism and makes using and keeping body fat off much easier.

How does Roar Fitness approach nutrition and dietary guidance to complement its fitness programs?

Unfortunately, a lot of people’s general approach towards nutrition is to try not to eat, and there is just no progress with this. You can’t go all day and not eat any food and expect results. I think it’s a very negative way of looking at nutrition. Your food is there to nourish you, and you need food and it’s good for you. It shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing.

It’s difficult at first because people want to lose weight and are used to losing weight by eating very little and depriving themselves of a lot of food, so they think that’s how they need to do it. So, giving people more food to eat seems counterintuitive to them and they are not completely comfortable with it, so you have to try and explain those things to them and encourage them to think about nourishing their body first so you can get in as many nutrients as you can.

Then you are eating for performance. You need to eat to be able to train properly, and if you care about your performance on the gym floor, then you are eating for performance. You eat to recover from your training session, and you start to see results. But really, the ultimate goal is to eat as much food as possible and get as many nutrients into your body, but still achieving the goal of losing fat and gaining muscle, so that’s the sweet spot.

Would you be willing to share any success stories or testimonials from members who have achieved their fitness goals at Roar Fitness?

Our client, Lewis, has always loved all types of fitness activities and generally valued fitness and health, but struggled with his diet. He was spending the summer in Dubai when the options to get outside were limited, so he thought it was the perfect time to see what physique changes he could make.

He lost over 8kg of body fat in just 10 weeks, as well as seeing huge strength gains - increasing his dumbbell chest press from 12.5kg dumbbells to 35kg dumbbells. He's now a long-term member at Roar and is working hard in the lead up to his wedding this summer.

What future plans or developments can we anticipate from Roar Fitness in 2024?

We are looking to open ROAR 5 and 6 which will be located in Dubai, and then we would like to move to Singapore next!

How does Roar Fitness Dubai foster a supportive and inclusive environment for all its members?

We are a small team and I appreciate every single one of them. I try to look after them on an individual basis which is the beauty of having a smaller business. Everybody has different needs and feelings around things, and we just try to keep communication open and help people whatever their situation is as best we can. Everyone has different ideas on how to help the business move forward and how to help it grow, so I always try to be open to any ideas they may have.

It’s the Holy month of Ramadan, are there any special offers or programmes?

We have added a smaller package of six weeks which is more affordable for people to try where they will still see results. As a brand, we take into account the nutrition around Ramadan and timings – you should still try to train during Ramadan as most people won’t feel good after taking a rest for a whole month. However, the workout should be adjusted, which could include reducing the reps, taking more breaks, and timing your eating well so that you have the desired energy for your workout.