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Mokattam, Cairo, Egypt.
Extreme Gym: Well-Equipped Gym in Mokattam
This three-storey building has a full-length window on one side to allow you to look out over the landscape while you rigorously burn your calories on the eight treadmills and elliptical bikes. Each machine is propped up under separate 19-inch colour TV screens and decoders. The gym’s decor is modern and minimalistic with dark wood, steel and rustic grey marble. A lot of effort has been made to create space while offering a plethora of exercise and relaxation options.
In addition to the cardio machines, there is a nice selection of relaxation rooms including a massage room with a professional massage chair, a dedicated steam room for up to five people, a modern sauna and a full-sized, jet-powered Jacuzzi, all of which are accessible via the changing rooms on the top floor.
However, if free weights and serious body building are more your thing, then you will appreciate the large space on the second floor dedicated to a full range of bar and dumb bells. It’s not called extreme for nothing; bar bells reach up to 70kg! As well as the usual squats rack, straight and inverse benches and lateral pull-down machines, there is a high-quality Smith machine and plenty of leg-press machines.
Once you’re done working out, you can take a power shower in one of the three shower rooms and you will have the use of a dedicated locker and key; so your valuables will be safe. On the way out of the changing rooms you will find a modern juice bar to your right, selling freshly squeezed orange, mango, guava, banana and pomegranate juice, as well as various health snacks, tea and coffee and some not-so-healthy chocolate, which the management swears is ‘diet’.
Although this is probably the best equipped gym in Mokattam so far, it is also by the far the most expensive. Use of all machines, the cardio and the relaxation rooms is part of the membership package: a three-month membership costs 1250LE or 2500LE with a personal trainer. You can also opt for six-month and yearly options at 2200LE and 3200LE respectively. Although there is a dedicated spinning and aerobics workout room, classes had yet to start at the time of this reviewer's visit. Young people can take a monthly membership at 550LE a month, which includes a personal trainer.
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.