I’m going to be up front here: This post is about gyms, mostly of the crossfit-y sort, in Cairo. If that doesn’t interest you or causes you to suddenly experience symptoms of hair-pulling, eye-rolling, or fake-vomiting, I politely suggest you skip this entry and find something.less. healthy. to read about.
Imagine, if you would, that you are a masochist. You like to wake up early in the morning and put your body through trials that some people wouldn’t want to do even if you paid them. Sometimes more than once a day. And you like to do this a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Sometimes you do normal gym activities, and sometimes you do things that were clearly designed by demons from Hell. And then you move to what is technically the Third World, where this is, shall we say… far less common of a hobby. There, now you’re up to speed on my situation. So what’s a bro to do?
Why, she researches, of course!
Real talk: In the USA, I had two gym memberships. One to a crossfit gym, to get my ass handed to me, and one at the local L.A. Fitness for good old-fashioned cardio, swimming, and extra work. In Cairo, however, that kind of a gym is basically necessary, because I definitely am not going to go running in crowded, conservative downtown. Nope nope nope. In addition to that, Crossfit gyms around here don’t seem to have “open gym time” aka free time to come do your own thang outside of classes.
This means that before I was even close to finding an apartment, I hauled ass on the metro down to the south of Cairo, to the expat-filled neighborhood called Maadi. Here I popped in to the globo-dinosaur of a gym, Gold’s Gym. I chose this place because I had joined one previously during my time in Peru, and even though they’re a little pricier than some other places (and make you pay your whole effing fee for the year/6 months/whatever UP FRONT), I knew they would have one of the widest selections of workout equipment in the city. So I took care of the basics–should all else fail, I had a way to workout.
But once you drink that sweet, sweet kool-aid, it’s hard to not want the intensity (& coaching) that Crossfit offers. I’ve handled Crossfit while traveling/living abroad before in Paris, England, Estes Park, and Massachusetts, but relatively speaking those are all in areas where the fever has been spreading for a few years. The internet told me Crossfit existed in Cairo, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
Originally I was looking into Crossfit Stars (the 1st in Egypt), then Fight Unit Crossfit, but it turns out both are WAY the hell out of town–no car, no go, no WOD. So then I tried TD (Train Dirty or Go Home) Crossfit, on the swanky island of Zamaalek . I did a couple of drop-ins here, but…I didn’t get my kind of vibe. It’s brand new, but when you’re lacking things such as barbell clips, I get a little concerned. And no women’s barbells. The instructors clearly knew the movements, but the programming was a little wonky. Just…massive quantities of repetitions for everything, with no scheduled rest time during strength portions, and no unity in the class. Furthermore, at the beginning of the month you sign up for what days of the week you will come, EVERY week. Do I know my schedule for the next 30 days? Hell no. The last straw was that this place requires a taxi ride, which adds about 20 Egyptian Pounds to my day every time I go. So…I looked elsewhere.
Finally, I found my new home, Crossfit Demento–which by some miracle is PERFECTLY located in Maadi just about 10 minute’s walk from Gold’s Gym. This means I have a whopping 40 minute commute to get there, which blows, but I can take the metro, which costs 1 EGP or about $0.12. It also means that when I finish at Crossfit Demento, I can walk over to Gold’s Gym and do the day’s workout from my true home, Crossfit Hud (or at least part of it.) Or do some cardio. OR do nothing at all but use the nice hot showers, because I don’t want to ride the metro in sweaty clothes. (Not socially acceptable here.) At Demento, the classes I can attend don’t involve a lot of barbell work, but just by asking, the coaches agreed to let me do the programming for their more intensive (aka more normal Crossfit-style) workouts during the hour–which, by the way, is 8:00 AM, meaning I am working out with all of the local expat moms–just like my fabulous 8:30 class back in Indiana. It’s a little nostalgic, but also a little comforting. This place is also fairly new, so for now no rope to climb, rings for muscle-ups, or boxes (we substitute plates and a split-level wall) but to my absolute delight, also NO WALL BALLS. Huzzah!
So there you have it. I traveled across the globe to a desert in Africa and still found a way to blow tons of money trying to get swole. Definitely the pride of America right here, kids.