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.