Dear Gym, I have’snobbed’you

Stick Figure Gym Skull Candy

Four years ago and during the July ’06 ‘block party’, we moved from Tallet el Khayyat to Mar Takla. Naturally, we had spent numerous very, very long days apartment hunting, which had given us the chance to get to know our new neighborhood. Luckily, we were able to finalize any and all papers required by the time the party had reached ‘half-time’.

Mar Takla is one of these areas that bask in a ‘residential area’ halo, where shops and grocers open and close early, random people feed cats, and often on a Sunday afternoon, you will find someone teaching their kid how to drive in the household’s poshest car. We’re blessed to have basketball courts, a football court, and a tennis court. Also, we have a GYM!If you’re familiar with the area, you probably have a smirk on your face and know which gym I’m talking about.So, I’ve pretty much been snobbing Abou Zaraa Gym for four years.In Beirut, we have two types of gyms; the ‘hell-of-a-gym’, and the ‘down-the-corner’ gym. ‘Hell-of-a-gym’s are usually very neat and luxurious when they first open, and end up being the hang out place of the ‘M’as-tu-vu’s (translated into ‘Have-you-seen-me’s) of the city, eyeing anyone who actually goes there to work out. Oh, and they’re also ridiculously overpriced, especially when maintenance is rarely what it should be and trainers are mostly interested in turning you (or any Lebanese Steve Urkel) into the Hulk.Also, in Beirut, most ‘down-the-corner’ gyms are filled with guys that look like they’ve soaked in grease for too long, and girls donning three pounds of make-up and colored lenses (I’m totally cool with that, but don’t these pop off when you’re at the gym actually making physical efforts?). So, ‘biasedly’, I did not pay too much attention to Mar Takla’s very own gym.Well, I’ve been going there for three weeks (thank you, Mom, for being stubborn about this) and here’s what I love:

  1. It’s everything you need if you’re serious about your workout (machines + classes). They even have Muay Thai, which is Thai boxing. I’d love to see you try to keep up with that one ;)
  2. I can’t tell you how convenient it is to have a gym so close to your place => You go there more often, because it’s right there and your trainer will know that you skipped to go have ice cream.
  3. It surpasses my expectations when it comes to overall cleanliness, people’s personal hygiene, and aeration.
  4. If a machine needs maintenance, it is packed, sealed, and sent off to the muscle-machine doctor. But, it’s right back at its place within three days (so you don’t have to worry about the treadmill shooting you off into the mirror in front of you).
  5. They also have their little protein / healthy stuff / water bar.
  6. Whether it is Sandra, Billy, (or any of the certified trainers), you always get your answers or advice. They’ll always give you a tip on what to do, ask what you’ve worked on so far, and check your progress (as well as teach you how to use these machines because let’s face it, we can’t always figure it out while ‘pausing to drink water’).
  7. Mr Abou Zaraa is a Martial Arts Master with a truckload of trophies! He also spends quite some time there, and might pass by and give you a tip or two.
  8. Of course, it has its own little SPA section, with anything from manicures, pedicures, and massages, among other services. They also have a tanning booth.


These locker rooms are cleaner than anything I've seen in big Beiruti gyms