Sign in using your account with
Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Samia Allouba: Work Out in Style
Acquiring a membership at a new gym can feel a bit like checking into a hotel for the first time. Similarities abound in your first entrance into the polished lobby, the expectation of your stay, perusal of facilities…except of course that at a gym, you have to work for your rewards. Samia Allouba Gym has made quite the name for itself as a stylish gym that is serious about fitness– branches can be found in most neighbourhoods, and its diverse menu of aerobics, spinning and dance classes, as well as extensively trained personal trainers, keeps it in the lead.
Approaching the handsome chrome desk at Samia Allouba’s co-ed Maadi branch, we were welcomed warmly and ushered over to a consultation desk to sign up for our membership. The staff is professional and thorough, and they take time to ensure that you haven’t left any health-related details unanswered before setting you loose to explore the floor’s ample collection of equipment.
As many of us know, Samia Allouba has a reputation as a state-of-the-art niche to work out your city stress. While the workout floor is not spacious, the team has made good use of the floor by lining walls with treadmills, elliptical machines and flat bicycles grouped in the centre of the room. Upstairs, an additional room is reserved for spinning classes and special workouts, featuring around a dozen Star Trac stationary bicycles.
Stop by on a Saturday afternoon, and chances are you’ll find most of the machines occupied– from Techno Gym treadmills, elliptical machines and weight machines to the Life Fitness treadmills that offer a scenic suburban view of Maadi’s rooftop satellite dishes.
For anyone with the slightest inclination of self-consciousness, the biggest drawback of this branch is the small area reserved for floor exercises and stretching. Wedged into a corner of the male-dominated weight lifting section, it can make stretching an unfortunately brief and tense affair, with very vocal, burly fellow-gym goers a mere foot away.
We all know workouts can work up a sweat, and even an appetite, especially if you’re squeezing in a workout between meetings or after a stressful day. The gym’s snack bar offers slim pickings, with a cooler stocked with waters, juices, sodas and not much else.
Membership prices are not quite as high as rival Gold’s Gym, which gives Samia Allouba a competitive edge. A monthly membership for use of gym and workout equipment only is 600LE; access to the extensive line-up of classes adds an additional 360LE. Annual memberships start at 2700LE for gym use; gym use plus classes comes to 3800LE.
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.