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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
World Gym: Heliopolis’ Answer to Gold’s
For all you Heliopolis people that are a little jealous of your lucky friends who have Gold’s Gym in their neighborhood, World Gym in Maryland is the Heliopolis equivalent, where you too can go to break a sweat and work your gluteus.
This privately owned franchise is the only one in Cairo, with 200 branches scattered all over the world and allegedly beloved by celebrity body builders. The Cairo branch has its share of bulky Arnold Schwarzenegger-type men pumping iron, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find ordinary people just trying to stay fit and healthy.
Occupying three stories of a large building, the gym is located on the third floor overlooking the Maryland Gardens. The gym’s cardio area has several decent Precor and Life Fitness treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes and step-masters.
The treadmills have built-in TVs, and the Precor elliptical cross-trainer is highly recommended for cardiovascular training. The gym is well equipped for strength training and has an area for free weights (ranging from 10 lb-100lb), mostly from the popular Techno Gym brand. The weight area may be a little crowded and tight, so rush hour is not the best time to schedule your gym session.
If you are looking for good fitness classes to attend, note that World Gym does not offer the range you will find at some other gyms, although they do offer some classes such as Tae Bo, Kick Boxing, Pilates and women-only classes.
There is also a women-only gym room, for those who prefer more privacy. If you’re searching for a personal trainer, Richard Nel is highly recommended. With many years in the field, Richard has good knowledge of what he does, and he does it well.
There is a bar that offers fresh juices, sodas, fruit smoothies and whey protein shakes. Both women’s and men’s changing rooms feature spas, so you can sweat out your toxins in a steam-room or traditional sauna; enjoy the Jacuzzi, or have a massage by one of the resident masseuses. World Gym also offers treatments for women, where you can get a Moroccan scrub and a good wax.
Staying fit comes at a price: a month’s membership is around 800LE, three months cost 1900LE, and one year’s membership is almost 4000LE. If you are serious about your fitness, then it is worth the investment. And if you are not, perhaps paying the fee will help you get serious about it.
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.