Friday, December 12, 2008

Tennis, anyone?

I played tennis twice this week for the first time since July when I was playing a few times per week in PA. (What’s up, Walter?) A colleague and I go to the Maadi House, a club that is aimed at US State Department employees, but serves others with US passports in the neighborhood. There is a swimming pool and green space and American food and a children’s playground. It seems especially popular with AUC faculty who live in the area and have kids. We are not members, but know some folks who are, one of whom has beaten me in tennis twice this week.

The courts are clay, which is a bit of an adjustment since I have only ever played on standard concrete. The ball bounces with a wicked spin off of the clay (plus the person I have been playing with is a squash player who knows how to slice the ball). Not that any of this is meant to be an excuse. I won’t print the score here lest you think me a masochist. It is a lot of fun; I’ll be out there again next week.

What else have I been doing for exercise here beyond the walking that accompanies city living? I mentioned the swimming pool in an earlier blog, which I try to use three times per week. I attend Jenna’s Ashtanga yoga class usually once per week, though ideally I would go twice (and this week I did). The other new addition to my program is a membership to the weight room at Cairo American College, the same place where I swim. I abandoned the very nice gym which has personal television monitors attached to all of the cardiovascular machines and loud techno music. The equipment there was excellent and everyone was friendly, but the decision was a financial one. I paid 450LE for one month, which is a little bit more than $80US. Had I signed up for multiple months, as I considered, that fee would have applied toward a longer-term membership where the price would have come down to perhaps $50-60.

Instead, for 100LE (less than $20US) per month, I go to the CAC weight room which is a classic high school gym with lots of weights and old rebuilt equipment all over the place in a big room. Sort of the like the YMCAs I have used in the US (before their renovations). It has pretty much everything I need to get in a little bit of exercise, and enough free weights for me to take up bodybuilding should I desire. They don’t have much in the way of cardio equipment but it is next to the pool and there is an outdoor track right outside. Since I live in Egypt, I don’t need to worry about rain or cold keeping me indoors.

One of the drawbacks is that it has limited community hours, 6:30pm-9:30pm six days per week. Because of the holiday, I have only been there a few times, but each time I was the only person in there other than the super nice guy who works there. Not a soul. It is a little bit strange, though also convenient. I can jump rope without striking anyone. Apparently the facility gets used by the athletics program during the day, but in the evening it is all mine.

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