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World Gym: Unfussy, No-Frills Gym in Giza
At the start of every summer, Cairenes all over the city invariably descend on Cairo's gyms and fitness centres in search of that perfect beach-body; it can be difficult to find a quality workout space without having to wait in queue to use your favourite machine. But as we come to the end of summer, gym attendances decrease, giving space for those casual exercisers room to breathe.
Located near Giza Square, World Gym sits on Hemdan Street as one of the older and more established gyms in the Giza area. Having opened in 2001, the gym has undergone several facelifts to keep up with the newer, flashier gyms popping up all across the city.
One such facelift has seen a large red sign mark the location of the gym – it's impossible to miss. Taking the steps up to the gym, you'll first find a reception area that houses a receptionist's desk and three metal couches. Every part of the gym is accessible from here; the main workout area as well as both the male and female changing rooms.
The changing rooms are also home to the gym's saunas and Jacuzzis. The main area workout area takes the form of a large, almost circular space with separate sections marked out. The 'Fitness' section brings together treadmills and exercise bikes, among other things. The other half of the space is dedicated to body-building, and houses a whole host of weights. It also emanates grunting and shouting.
Most of the machinery is pretty modern, but you'll have to be open to the possibility of cleaning a machine yourself after someone else has used it, and you're required to bring your own towels.
Membership costs are as follows: 400LE for one month with one free one-day pass for family or friends; 1000LE for three months with three day-passes; 1700LE for six months with five day-passes; and finally, a one year membership will set you back 2800LE, with eight day-passes included. All the membership plans afford gym-goers access to the sauna and Jacuzzi, as well as sessions with the gym staff.
Speaking of which, said staff are, to say the least, effective. At the time of our visit, one particular trainer channelled his inner army general for a group abs session. But on the whole, the trainers are very welcoming and will tailor a personal workout plan based on your goals.
When all is said and done, the biggest attraction of World Gym are its reasonable prices, especially compared to other gym chains found across Cairo.
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.