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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Gold's Gym: Deluxe Gym in Heliopolis
Gym's in Cairo tend to cater for basic fitness needs, and little else. However, with the rapidly expanding health and fitness scene, the competition is steadily growing. Known for its consistently high standards, Gold's Gym have an abundance of branches all over the city. Arguably one of their nicest, their Heliopolis branch is situated on the quiet Salah El Deen Street.
With a landscaped front garden, entirely glass front and impressive Grecian pillars, the entrance is a neat mixture between classic and contemporary, giving off a welcoming vibe.
Customers are greeted by professional, uniformed receptionists at the front desk whilst a team of burly personal trainers can be easily spotted; using their bodies as business cards, they meander around the gym floor, offering advice and technique correction when needed.
Spread over three floors, the gym is bright, spacious and airy, with air conditioning allowing for a more comfortable workout. The open plan ground floor carries an array of weight machines for the entire body; with specialised machines for arms, legs and the torso.
The large basement boasts floor to ceiling mirrors and rubber flooring, a vast number of high-quality free weights and workout benches, as well as a frosted glass aerobics room for their group fitness programmes.
The top floor is reserved for cardio workouts, sporting a decent number of overhead TV screens for the treadmills, cross trainers and exercise bikes which overlook the floor below. Here, there's also a separate spinning room for spinning classes, a small crèche for child-care convenience and a well-stocked supplement counter.
Both the men's and women's locker rooms are well-kept, and clean towels are readily available. The women's changing area has just one private changing cubicle but a large number of rain head showers, complete with pump-able shampoo and shower gel. There's also a Jacuzzi, sauna and steam, along with a small but adequate women's only work out area.
As with most gyms, memberships are short or long term and are combined with various free sessions. One month memberships are no longer available, but range from 3 months (2400LE), six months (2400LE) and one year (5300LE). The annual membership affords the customer a nutrition assessment, three free personal training sessions, two months freezing, 10 days worth of guest passes, and access to all Gold's branches in Cairo, excluding the Elite branch in Katameya.
After the complimentary training sessions expire, a set of 28 personal training sessions is priced at 2700LE. Discounts are also available when joining with a spouse.
Once again, Gold's Gym Heliopolis stays true to Gold's impressive – but expensive – reputation. The roomy gym space is well equipped with top of the range facilities, and friendly, professional staff to help you reach those seemingly impossible fitness goals.
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.