5 MINUTES WITH: Sarah Lindsay, Cofounder of ROAR Fitness in Dubai

Sarah arrived in Dubai during the pandemic


Tell us a little bit about yourself


I grew up in Surrey, just outside of London with my mum, dad and little brother Matt. I was extremely hyperactive as a child so the only way to curb my behaviour was for me to take part in sport. Lots and lots of sport. I did before and after school clubs of various activities, one of which was figure skating.

Someone was talent spotting from the local speed skating club and asked if I wanted to try racing instead of dancing. I quickly found I was more athletic than graceful and fell in love with the speed!

I quickly became the junior British champion and won my first senior title at 15. I trained full time and raced on the international circuit for several years and eventually reached the pinnacle of sporting performance competing in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games

After retirement, I entered the fitness space opening my first London private Personal Training gym in 2013. We developed our offering and launched the Roar brand in 2016, opening three  gyms in London and now our first in Dubai.

My husband Rich is my business partner. We have relocated full time to Dubai and are very much enjoying life in the sun.


How and when did you move here, and what inspired the move?


Right from the beginning we knew we wanted to go international with Roar. We were considering where that might be and going back and to on a few ideas, and then because of lockdown during the COVID pandemic, we came out to Dubai and spent some time here.

It was one of the only places we could actually escape to. This really helped us, and it really was the people that inspired our move. Everyone was so helpful and forthcoming with information, advice and offers to help so it just felt like a really good place to start a business.

We very quickly realised that in order to maximise the business here we needed to move full time, which to be honest didn’t take a lot of convincing, life in the sun was extremely tempting!


How has living in Dubai shaped your sense of belonging and community?


I find Dubai far easier to network and make friends than London. I love London of course; I grew up there and worked there for years but it can be very cliquey and can take quite a long time to establish yourself.

It definitely feels like everywhere you go in Dubai that people are craving for community because a lot of us aren’t from here. There is the expat community and then it’s broken down even further into smaller sub-communities where you live, where you go, what you do and activities you participate in, which I think has made it very easy to establish a community at Roar.

Everyone is part of something really special and enjoying their own journey but sharing it with each other. A lot of our clients are very good friends with the trainers and with each other and do things with each other outside of Roar which I absolutely love.


Can you tell us about a particular person in Dubai who has had a significant impact on your life and why?


I think some of the first people that I met here who invited me to things and welcomed me into Dubai life, I will always remember. They have become really good friends and friends for life which I think is quite rare as you get older.

These people have turned into people I really feel I can rely on, or I can message if I need help, or have a question and need some advice; they will always come straight back to me and are always ready and willing to help. Obviously, when you move countries, this feels really important.

Jane Weatherspoon will be a friend for life and my Dubai ride or die, Tom Urquhart from Dubai Eye has supported and backed me and the business from day one. Caroline Stanbury has been incredibly generous in spreading the word of Roar and of course Tash Hatherall Shawe of TishTash who is a loyal client and cheerleader of Roar and is the person I would call first in a crisis.


What is your favourite thing about the emirate and why?


Sun and taxes are the obvious benefits but personally, the feeling of safety is unmatched to anywhere I have been in the world and the thing that makes me believe that Dubai is forever for me.


A myth about Dubai that you would like to bust


Before I came to Dubai, some people in the UK had some preconceptions and were unaware of how women are perceived in the country. I can honestly say I have found my time here, both in daily life and in business, incredibly positive. I’ve enjoyed a sense of respect and equality that has been thoroughly refreshing. I have actually really enjoyed the absence of cat calling that still exists far more than it should in the UK.


Could you share a memorable moment when you felt the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Dubai community in your own life?


When I first arrived and didn’t know anyone, Chloe Newman, a friend of a London friend invited me to her birthday party. We’d never met, and it was a close group of friends for brunch so I wouldn’t usually meet someone for the first time in these circumstances. However, she convinced me to come and meet everyone. It was so kind of her to invite me into her close group and I made several friends that day.


To meet more Dubai People, visit Yalla Dubai

Image credit Sarah Lindsay

Derek Issacs