By Maggie Balbaa
Young entrepreneur, Nada Taalab, has created a new concept in healthy-living that will elevate the idea of getting fit. Chefox Camp is not your usual gym or aerobics facility. It is a place where you get to practice a healthy life-style, and learn how to maintain it. Cairo West Magazine interviewed the owner to learn more about it.
CWM: What was the inspiration behind Chefox?
NT: I was a former swimming champion who used to train very hard, and had to stop because of a shoulder injury. Since 2004, I have been trying to lose that weight with all the traditional and none traditional ways. But the problem is that in Egypt it is very hard with our local lifestyle to lose weight and to actually maintain what we lost. So two years ago, I travelled to the UK for a week to join a fitness camp. This trip was very beneficial for me, but it cost me a lot of money. So one year later, I decided to start that concept with some modifications here in Egypt.
I met Yasmine Youssef, a graduate with distinction from City & Guilds, UK, who is specialized in culinary arts and nutrition. She believes strongly that the key to a healthy lifestyle is healthy nutrition. People hate diets because they wait so impatiently for the cheat meal. Healthy nutrition can offer the same food but in a healthy way.
Our other pillar is fitness and sports. I was lucky to find a lot of enthusiasm when I approached some of Egypt’s most passionate instructors: Dabo, Amany Taher, Sarah Moenes, Maggie Balbaa and Sarah Yassin. They have given me the perfect mix of weight and strength training varieties, Zumba and Yoga.
What is the concept?
Our concept is very simple: Life Style Revolution! There are some factors however that you learn to control:
– Sleeping habits
– Behavioral change
Tell me about a typical camp in Chefox.
As a first step, people register via a questionnaire. They also state in it if they have any medical conditions, their sports history, if any, and their eating habits. This questionnaire is revised by our nutritionist and our team’s medical doctor. Based on it, we fix an appointment to start the “one-week pre-camp preparation” where they are given a nutrition plan and a fitness program.
Arriving on site, they start by learning about the ground rules of Chefox. They also get introduced to the week schedule and receive their Chefox welcome pack. Fitness test, body analysis and measurements are done first thing in the morning on the second day. On their last day in camp, they repeat that analysis before breakfast to check results. They also receive a personal password for their account on our blog to become part of the “Chefoxers” network. When they leave, their real journey begins.
With all our packages, there is follow up. We do their body analysis in different time intervals, depending on the package. We are also planning to have gatherings every once in a while where people can share their experience and what they reached.
What is included in your programs?
We have 3 major parts:
Nutrition: Our food is freshly cooked on site. The residents take nutrition workshops covering many topics that enable them to understand food labels and manage portions. They also learn how to shop for food and equip their kitchen, modify the recipes and keep a food diary to control food intake. We also include a Cookery Workshop, all with Yasmine. We call it the “ABC of a heart-healthy kitchen”.
Fitness Fusion: Residents on camp try all kinds of sports so that they can tell what they would click with the most. There is also a workshop where we explain muscle groups and at-home workouts.
Behavioral Change: In this part, we listen to people’s issues and what is preventing them in their daily lives to practice a healthy lifestyle so that we can work with them individually. We work on reprogramming their thoughts using a vision board to determine why they are doing this, how they want to look and what they dream to wear. At the end of the camp, they get a weekly nutrition and fitness plan. We apply the magic 21 days rule, but we do 28 to turn it into a habit. We also advice them to log everything daily into their Chefox log book.
Who is Chefox for?
Chefox is for everybody: all age groups, all fitness levels and all sizes.
Do participants need medical clearance to follow your program?
Yes they do. Safety comes first. Our doctor might ask, in some cases, the participant for a medical clearance from their personal doctor.
What do you feel makes Chefox unique in Cairo?
Chefox is more of a holistic approach. We pay very strong attention to details to the point that we plant most of what we eat. Also the idea of a live-in and the one year follow up, make our participants goals more achievable. We are the first and only camp in Egypt with this concept.
What are the benefits of a ‘live-in’ program?
What I noticed from our first camp is that participants have more time to build rapport with their mentors. They also kill the “I-can-never-do-this” attitude. They feel they are in a safe environment, something some of them really miss when they try out classes where people are more fit and healthy than them.
How did you come to select this lovely location?
This farm is owned by my family, with no real usage. All I had to do was to prepare it for action. Et Voila!
Can couples and families join as a group?
Yes, but in day use only for now. We also have a bridal program, where the bride joins with her bride maids, and can include her mother and mother-in-law.