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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Curves: Short, Sharp Workouts in Maadi
With so many health and fitness options now available in Cairo, many of the city’s fitness centres are deliberately and craftily trying to carve out their own special niche, and Curves is no exception.
Unlike most gyms, however, Curves is not an 'open-style' fitness centre where you choose the machines you utilise and the length of your individual workout. Instead, it uses is circuit-based system designed to take you just under 30 minutes to complete. Think of it as an assembly line for your body. The circuit is comprised of various stops; each stop is a machine or a mat in which you engage in an activity to target a different group of muscles. You spend exactly 30 seconds at each stop before moving down the line to the next machine, checking your heart rate at various intervals as you do so. Immediately following the workout, you spend a few more minutes doing stretches to minimise that inevitable post-workout muscle pain.
That said, considering the fast-paced and synchronized aspect of the workout, this is not the place to go if you feel most accomplished after a good, long run on a treadmill. There is a drawback to this method of workout; it's not your best bet if you prefer to customise your routine based on your body's unique 'trouble spots'. However, Curves is great if you are new to the gym scene and like the idea of a structured workout that can be as challenging as you want it to be. The biggest draw, though, is that the whole thing will take just 30 minutes. This in itself is psychologically motivating. Add to this the encouraging and friendly staff (who often participate in the circuit themselves) and you have found yourself an easy-going atmosphere that can help you achieve your Sahel-body goals.
Finally, Curves is a woman-only facility. And while this is a draw for older, more conservative women, Curves attracts women from all different age groups and walks of life, and also caters to the large expat community of Maadi. The facilities include a locker-room with showers and free towels, as well as a place to keep your belongings while you work out. Most importantly, the locker-rooms, as well as the work-out circuit itself, are always clean, safe and reliable.
A year-long membership will set you back around 3500LE, while a six-month membership costs 2500LE. Curves also offers a three-month membership for 1500LE. Rates are subject to change.
On your way up to the sixth floor of the Platinum Mall on Mohandiseen’s busy Shehab Street, you’ll get the perfect warm-up as you stretch your calves, making your way up on the mostly broken down escalators. After floor upon floor of dark and deserted shop spaces, you’ll finally reach Platinum Gym.
Treadmills are situated right at the beginning of the cardio area. They look somewhat basic and stripped down compared to other versions of the machine, but they are also easy to use and program. The machines face the windows facing Shehab Street, and televisions are placed in between each pair of treadmills. Behind the row of treadmills are rowing machines, which, if used on a busy day, may feel a little too close to the runners behind you. Similarly to the treadmills, the rowing machine that this reviewer used was clean and smooth.
One piece of equipment that we haven’t always found in gyms around Cairo is the resistance band. It looks like by far the most unsophisticated piece of equipment in the gym, with different coloured elasticised rope hanging and swing from it, but it is probably the most versatile. Each rope’s placement corresponds to a very precise movement of your body, and you’ll definitely need the guidance of a personal trainer to show you the best way to utilise the equipment.
The free weight section is a bit of a mixed bag. The area is broken up into two sections described by staff as free-weights and light free-weights. True to its name, the ‘light’ section offers much smaller dumbbells and barbells for a light workout or for beginners. The problems is that the space overall is quite small, and at the time of this reviewer’s workout, it was the most populated area, and there was a lot of shuffling past large Hulk-sized men and timid ‘excuse me’s.
Although the staff are understandably focused on the ‘personal training’ sessions, there was always someone available to help at the time of this reviewer’s visit. What was even more comforting was their etiquette of knowing when they were to leave you to it.
A bright studio area hosts various classes. At the time of our visit, the schedule included kick boxing, salsa dancing, pilates and Chinese yoga. All the classes are free to members.
A small complex of sorts holds a steam room and sauna that can each hold up to eight people at once, and a rather industrial-looking Jacuzzi. The changing rooms are incredibly small, which is a forgivable flaw, but what isn’t inexcusable is the state of the toilets and showers. We wouldn’t even wash a dog in any of the three showers by the Jacuzzi, while the equally squalid toilets smelled rotten, and the floors were swamped with puddles of water.
A one-year membership will set you back 3450LE, and affords you four quarterly personal trainer appointments whereupon you will be weighed, measured and prodded to keep track of your progress. You will also be rewarded with a whopping fifteen massage sessions and fourteen day-use invitations for friends and family. Six months will cost you 2400LE, three months will cost you 1600LE, and a measly one-month membership will cost you 750LE.