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6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
The BootCamp: New Outdoor Workout Classes Take Cairo by Storm
There’s no doubt that most of us have put on some weight the past couple of months. The terribly long winter that has taken over Cairo asks for warm comfort food and snuggling up in front of the TV. As every year, spring will probably take us by surprise and we give it just a few weeks before you can start digging up your flip-flops and shorts again. So now is the time to lose that winter weight and get back into summer shape. The BootCamp brings a whole new workout concept to Cairo; one that makes working out fun and effective.
The BootCamp was started by Nabil and Norshek who are both ISSA certified personal and group exercise trainers. There are six workout sessions a week; three at Gezira Club in Zamalek and three at Gardenia compound in 6th October City. Each session lasts an hour during which you improve your endurance, fitness, stamina, strength and speed. The best thing about the BootCamp is that it is outdoors so you can get some fresh air while working out. The second best thing is that you always work out in a group of up to twenty people, which is very motivating.
We participated in a session at Gezira Club, where the BootCamp uses the field inside the tracks close to the squash court. You start the session with a warm-up that’s vaguely reminiscent of an assault course. You jump over ropes, make your way sideward through pylons, run backwards and jump forward. After this part of the warm-up you continue onto the strength and coordination exercises. While standing with both feet fixed to the ground, you do various exercises to warm up your muscles. After this, the fun starts as you begin at a station where you have to perform exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups and weightlifting. When you finish that exercise, you run three shorts sprints to a new station where you do a new exercise. Finishing all the stations takes about half an hour. During the last fifteen minutes of the class you do some weight work, before the session ends with stretches to avoid muscle pain the next day.
Nabil and Norshek are great instructors who give a lot of individual attention to every participant. If you don’t know what to do at your station they come to the rescue immediately. The overall atmosphere in the group is great, too. Though we suffered tremendously during the session and the day after, we felt so much better after the work out. It gives a boost of energy and trains all your muscles very intensely. The BootCamp is not necessarily focused on weight loss but you will more than likely lose some kilos if you attend regularly. We also heard a lot of their participants gave up smoking as well. We totally understand why, because after our session the thought of a cigarette was simply sickening (in all honesty that feeling faded away within half-an-hour or so).
If you really want to put yourself to the test and work out while enjoying fresh air with a great group of like-minded individuals, you should definitely opt for the BootCamp. A session is 50LE and there are package deals available as well.
As anyone living in this neighbourhood will tell you ad nausea, Maadi is a bubble. A nice, greener bubble than the other parts of Cairo where people walk their dogs, ride their bikes and actually like to sit outdoors. Maadi residents have their own distinctive qualities: allergic to leaving the ‘hood’, prone to quiet nights in and completely mystified as to why anyone would willingly live elsewhere. What is Dokki? Why does Zamalek exist? They scratch their heads in confusion.
Osana may be a good reason to move to Maadi. Located inside a large villa off of El Nahda Street, the space is surrounded by shady trees and soft grass and its various spaces work seamlessly with its surroundings, like the Earth studio (where yoga classes are practiced); a wooden shed with smooth wooden planks for flooring and a tree trunk right in the middle of it. Instead of cutting the tree down, they built the studio around it, which says a lot about the nature-loving, happy people who run this place – renowned photographer, Steve Double, his wife, Neena Serag, and Sumaya Holdijk, who has been a practitioner in places such as Nun Center.
The best thing about the venue is that it feels like a community space – not a sanitised, uptight spa or yoga studio. Once you enter the reception and are greeted warmly by one of the friendly front-desk staff, the space leads you into a small café full of vegetarian dishes, fresh and healthy smoothies and enough grains to make any clean eater squeak with delight. It makes sense that they’re promoting clean eating in a venue promoting yoga, meditation, energy healing and Chinese medicine among other perks, and it also makes sense that everyone surrounding you is positive and friendly, creating a familiar atmosphere that makes you feel like an old friend rather than a paying customer.
Their schedule has daily classes starting from 6:15AM with free self-practice (where you basically go to meditate or do yoga with others if you’re in need of a good space and positive company) and ending at 6PM, while also offering classes for all ages from kids to elderly. Drop-in costs 100LE and classes are taught by both Egyptian and foreign trainers.
This reviewer tried the alignment hatha-vinyasa yoga with Nicole; a one-hour session of mostly floor-based yoga postures focusing on – you guessed it – alignment and breath. Although it wasn’t an easy class – a beginner would struggle with the deep lunges and stretches – the instructor talked the class through the moves and was careful to correct alignments and push us gently but deeper into our stretches.
If you’re into holistic therapy and alternative medicine, then Osana’s menu will read like a dream come true, ranging from the luxurious-sounding gold leaf facial (350LE for 60 minutes, available Thursdays only) to the exotic jin shin jyustu (650LE for the first consultation of 90 minutes, available Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday), which involves the ancient oriental art of harmonising life energy within the body. There’s also foot reflexology, energy healing with crystals or reiki and a long list of massages (Thai, Indian, hot stone and much more) that will make you turn your one-hour class into a full day at Osana. And who can blame you? It’s hard to tear yourself away from the serenity of the space and throw yourself back onto the hot, dusty streets of Cairo.
An added perk is their communal events like their Tuesday farmer’s market, where you can pick up homemade cookies, coconut oil, leather purses and organic grains among other items. There are also diverse and new workshops and classes introduced regularly, such as poi practice, Islamic healing and baby massage.
All that and you can relax in their garden on their wooden lounge areas, while kids play in the grass and adults read their books in the sunshine. It’s that kind of place. Why would you want to leave?
Sign up for Osana classes by registering with your Facebook or Gmail account.