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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Cherokee Health Club: Hidden in Mohandiseen
It’s time to build your brain or brawn, and the only direction is up for the ambitious exerciser; so hit the elevator selection for lucky floor number thirteen.
Far removed from the Cairo traffic hiss and stacked atop the Pharaoh Egypt Hotel in Mohandiseen is Cherokee Health Club, a gym and spa with a café for quiet study.
Pharaoh Egypt Hotel touts Cherokee Health Club from the thirteenth to fifteenth floors, offering a gym area as well as a Jacuzzi, steam room and dry heat sauna. Also available are seasonal aerobic classes and professional massage using the latest techniques.
The gym is split between the fourteenth and fifteenth floors. An invigorating orange dominates the gym and the stairwell walls connecting both gym sections.
The men and women’s washroom and changing areas are also separated on either floor. Both men’s and women’s rooms are considerably small with two showers, one bathroom, and a long bench adjacent to several storage lockers, evoking a comfortable atmosphere of privacy and reclusion.
The men’s restroom and changing area has wood cabinets for storage and urinals separated in a different room from showers. The section appeared homier and better lit than the women’s room with steel lockers and unified washrooms. .
Despite the forgotten atmosphere of this uninhabited club, at the time of this writer’s unannounced review, the gym was in tip-top condition. The sauna smelt trustworthy and of dry wood, the floors and equipment were free of dust with the windows wide open. The high- and low-impact training equipment looked well-maintained.
On the thirteenth floor is a semi-shaded pool area with orange beach umbrellas, tables and recliners for natural tanning. There are sky blue tiles, synthetic grass, beige stucco walls and stone-arch niche framing live plants. The terrace edge is guarded by a tinted glass wall for an unobstructed view of Cairo. Curling bronze lamps hanging iridescent, champagne globe fitters give this metropolitan escape a vintage feel.
The small pool is best suited for leisure and is shaped like a sun-dial. It’s appropriately paved with a blue mosaic sunburst off-centre left (rising) in a cartouche: the hotel logo.
Opposite of the pool and across the hall is the refreshing diner with a nominal name. Café Pharaohs is a pineapple cabana of zesty yellow walls and brown bamboo panelling tastefully balanced. Café Pharaohs serves a full-course meal at a reasonable price. Tea costs 5LE, salad costs 7LE, dessert and soup cost 10LE. Appetisers and sandwiches start at 18LE.
Cherokee Health Club offers a great deal for an intense workout. Gym membership for one month of twelve visits (three visits per week) is 150LE. Long-term membership secures unlimited visits with three-month access for 500LE, six months for 800LE, and twelve months for 1300LE. Including spa benefits doubles each fee. Individual spa visits are 25LE.
A second, rooftop café called, King Tut’s Café, is under renovation and scheduled to open summer 2011. Life-size pharaohs make King Tut’s Café the most Pharaonic terrace.
Gyms in Cairo tend to be either mixed, or ladies-only; very rarely do we come across men’s only fitness establishments in the city. Under the same ownership as popular women’s only chain, Hers, Balance Gym caters for men, and only men.
Right next door to Hers’ New Cairo branch, Balance is also on the upper level of restaurant complex, Emerald Empire. With full-length windows stretching across the front, the gym benefits from a great people-watching view, as well as being visible from afar.
The roomy reception area is filled with energetic, welcoming staff, as well as an incredibly well-stocked display of protein, vitamins, energy boosters and fat burners for both men and women. Just inside, a snack bar is notably hosted by the cafe franchise, Chez Edy.
The long, open-plan workout space is lined with full length mirrors on one side to add a spacious feel. Furthermore, the industrial, exposed pipes on the ceiling and the contemporary grey hues, coupled with orange-red accents throughout make for a surprisingly masculine aesthetic.
Top-of-the-range equipment is neatly organised into cardio and strength sections, with a well stocked and kept free-weights section for some serious iron-pumping. Due to the gym’s popularity, peak times may feel a little cramped and the distinct smell of 'man' becomes increasingly noticeable. There is also a glass-walled room dedicated to spinning classes, as well as a separate studio for a range of fitness classes.
At the far end of the gym, the locker rooms are spacious and well kept, with a relaxing spa area complete with a Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
For such decent fitness and relaxation facilities, we were surprised to find the membership prices so reasonable. At the time of our visit, a running promotion discounted a year membership to 2200LE from 3000LE. Included in this price are a whopping 24 personal training sessions, 12 guest invitations, two months, optional, freezing and six follow-up sessions. A six month membership is 1800LE, including 12 personal training sessions, six invitations, one month freezing and three follow-up sessions. The shortest membership, 3 months, includes six personal training sessions, three invitations, seven days freezing and two follow-up sessions. Special discounts are also offered to married couples, where the woman is joining Hers.
With such attractive prices, Balance Gym is likely to increase in popularity – and rightly so – but may quickly become over populated. As it stands, this men’s only fitness man-cave provides body-conscious men with well-stocked work-out areas, complete with top-of-the range equipment at affordable prices.