Egypt has been witnessing a surge of new entrepreneurs recently. While they are all special, some of them head for unchartered territories. And this makes them even more noticeable. Aly Mazhar started Be Fit Egypt, a company dedicated to offering fitness services. Aly’s work is not only about Be Fit Egypt, though. Recently, he collaborated with Injaz on a run in Kattameya. The run raised 30,000EGP! We sat down with Aly to discuss fitness, entrepreneurship and his experience with both.
Tell us more about Befit Egypt.
Befit is a group exercise fitness company. I started it around a year ago as a Facebook page. We put up nutrition tips and workout exercises. Nothing was planned. Later on I started doing one session a day next to my fulltime job. Then slowly it evolved into what it is today. Today we have over 35 classes a week, with more than 200 people a day. We offer circuit-training, Pilates, power ball classes, aerobics and a little bit of strength training. We’re trying to become a brand that covers all aspects of fitness, but we’re doing it slow so that the growth is on strong basis.
Is it difficult to be an entrepreneur in Egypt, or is Egypt fresh ground for entrepreneurship?
I think Egypt is a fresh ground for being an entrepreneur. Most of the industries are built on big sized corporations. So anyone with a fresh idea and a little bit of understanding of the industry can do something good.
Please define fitness for us.
Fitness is the ability to perform things using your body. An athlete is fit, a lady could be fit, a grandmother could be fit and a child could be fit. It’s the ability to perform your daily activities at ease. And if you want to take it to another level, it could be performing sports comfortably.
We are an unfit generation. True or false?
Yes, I think so. I think the country and the education don’t encourage kids to become fit. I played professional football for years and we didn’t have a fitness coach. We focus mainly on talents.
I think this is changing. Over the past year a lot of fitness providers have seen the gap to fill in the demand. And people are starting to accept it and look into it from a different perspective. Rather than just going to gyms to get a nice body before the summer.
Are Egyptians’ lifestyles unhealthy by nature – especially now?
I think so. It’s the way we were brought up. And all our habits; our eating habits, our education and our understanding of nutrition are not what they should be.
Some people work out only to take selfies. Are they doing it for others or themselves?
I think it’s just a social media thing. From another point of view, people are trying to boost their self esteem by looking better. They’re trying to overcome their insecurities, which is not wrong. However, if you’re doing it for the right reasons it becomes a habit. I think people are getting more understanding of what fitness is. A lot of people criticize it and say it’s a trend, but I say “at least we have a good trend”.
Do you think this is a trend that’s going to last?
Yes, because people are more aware of what’s going on. People want to live a healthy lifestyle.
Did social media attention help with people wanting to get more fit?
I think it helped a lot because we’ve been getting more involved with what’s going on abroad. We’re getting affected with what’s going on in the world and how everyone is looking to live a healthier life.
Some women demand too much of themselves, wanting to be too skinny. Do we still have lots to combat in terms of body image?
I think this era’s over. People are starting to understand what fitness is all about. When they just drop 10 kilos, then try to perform with their body and they can’t do it, they know there’s a hole there. So I don’t think the skinny look is what every girl is trying to achieve anymore.
Egyptians feel like fitness is a luxury. True or false?
I think this comes from the educational background. It’s not a luxury, we should not target the A class only. Fitness should be available for everyone.
How would you combat it and raise awareness?
It needs to be on a much bigger scale. We need educational system for instructors as well as people. I think over the years we could have academies to teach the instructors. And later on it can go to the masses.
Do you think what you’ve done with Befit Egypt would have been possible without social media?
It would’ve been possible on a much smaller scale. It would have taken much longer to build a brand, and to hit the numbers that we’re hitting today. I think social media had a great snowball effect.