The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Health & Fitness

El-Fit Fitness Festival: Fusing Fitness & Fun in Cairo

El-Fit Fitness Festival: Fusing Fitness & Fun in Cairo
written by
Haisam Awad

There’s a
strange dichotomy that defines sports and fitness in Egypt. On one hand, we love
the spectacle; we love to idolise footballers, athletes and, for a fleeting
period last summer, Olympians. Egyptians are a competitive, success-hungry
people, but mention exercise, and most will call to the heavens and ask forgiveness
from a higher power.

Yes, the majority of us avoid exercise like the plague.
But take a step back and you’ll find that what it really comes down to is
accessibility and education. In the realm of arts and culture, there’s a theory that
diminishes any kind of hierarchal structure of appreciation; it states that if
more people were given more access to more art via educative means, the world
would be a happier place. The theory isn’t as convoluted when applied to sports
and fitness, but it’s still very much relevant. Can the average Egyptian fork
out 4000LE to join a gym? No, of course they can’t. Do those who can afford a
club, or ‘nady’, membership use the fitness facilities effectively? No, they’re
drinking mango juice at the club’s cafe. Fancy a quick morning jog? Sorry; microbuses,
outdoor cafe seating and the robabekya man got their first. There’s always the
Ring Road, though.

Even initiatives
and groups that utilise Egypt’s streets as their gym rarely expand outside of the
gem of the Nile that is Zamalek and its surrounding areas. Word-of-mouth is
possibly the best means of promotion in a country like Egypt, but the huge social
and cultural divide renders that ineffective.

In the El-Fit Fitness Festival, however, we may have the answer. Recognising that health
and fitness has been slowly coming to the forefront of Egypt’s collective consciousness,
the organisers of the
El-Fit Fitness Festival are riding the waves, but
bringing the concept of better-living back to basics.

El-Fit has it figured out. It’s simple, but the festival’s foundation is based on
one thing: make the pursuit of keeping fit fun and relevant, by fusing fitness
and entertainment using ‘adrenaline packed events’. That’s all fine and good,
but the key, as El-Fit’s vision states, is to raise awareness. We know that exercise
is good for us because that’s what we were told at school. But engaging people
of all ages in the actual, physical how and why of exercise is what will
implore Egyptians to take care of themselves. It needn’t be scientific; El-Fit
is introducing Egypt to the simpler side of fitness.

But what is
a fitness festival, you say? We’re not a hundred percent sure. What we are sure
of is that this particular fitness festival has a host of treats in store. This
isn’t for the faint of heart, though; the El-Fit Fitness Festival is all about hard work
and will.

can test their fortitude and resolve with the Experience Area; a mini obstacle
course that very much requires you to bring your ‘A’ game – expect to run, jump,
duck, weave and crawl for your life. The F&B Zone will help you replenish
and recharge, but don’t expect cupcakes; just pure nourishment and
energy-inducing, adrenaline-pumping treats.

There’s one
aspect of health and fitness that has yet to wholeheartedly win Egypt over.
Yoga, Pilates and Zumba, for example, are yet to conquer the hearts and minds
of all Egyptians and are still to some extent outcast in the same way they were by
the west. This is another facet of what
makes El-Fit a landmark event. It’s not exclusively about gym rats; the
festival recognises the benefits of alternative exercise, upholding it as
the epitome of their concept. Fans of Zumba in particular can enjoy Egypt’s
first Zumba marathon, with Zumba Fitness’ top instructors leading the charge.
Other health-conscious fitness communities in attendance include the
ever-growing Cairo Runners, who will begin the day with a brisk morning run
through Smart Village, where the GBI Egypt Team (Global Biking Initiative) will
also get the adrenaline pumping – but not before biking their way to the
festival from Lebanon Square in Mohandiseen. Like Zumba Fitness, GBI is a
perfect vessel through which El-Fit can demonstrate its philosophy. The
initiative promotes cycling as more than just a token exercise. Through weekly
events and annual marathons, GBI encourages cycling as a lifestyle; an activity that’s
as practical and useful as it is beneficial.

But the pièce de résistance of the El-Fit
Fitness Festival is the El-Fit Challenge. Although the details of the showpiece
remain a mystery, grand prizes for the individual (male and female) and team
sections of the competition stand at 4000LE and 5000LE respectively – so you know
it’ll be no walk in the park.

With an additional kid’s area where your little tots can
enjoy the spirit, the Fun Cannon firing off prizes and stand-up comedian Ramez
Youssef MC-ing the festivities, the El-Fit Fitness Festival really does have something
for everyone. Just remember to use deodorant.

The El-Fitness Festival will take place on Saturday February 23rd at Smart Club, Smart Village. For more information on tickets, click here.