Tips from the leisure desk: 5 things you missed out on as a kid

Maybe you missed out on taking a ballet class, or you wish you’d paid more attention in Spanish; perhaps you never got to jump around in a bouncy castle or play in a sandbox. Although I can’t offer any bouncing or sandboxes, here is a list of five things you can do as an adult that you might wish you’d done more of as a kid.

1. Swimming

It is probably an unlikely thing to find an Egyptian that doesn’t know how to balbat or float on water, but to actually swim requires a whole other skill set. Apart from being a great survival skill, it is a wonderful way to exercise, being good for the whole body, while filling your mind with tranquil sounds.

Recommendation: Blue Bubbles Academy

Despite the youthful-sounding name, the Blue Bubbles Academy caters to all ages. Located near Katameya Heights, the academy was founded by Olympic swimmer and divemaster Ahmed Samir Farrag, and promises a training facility of international standards with friendly and qualified staff. Divided into beginner, basic swim, intermediate swim, stroke mechanics and an introductory swim training courses, the 50-minute adult (and optional women-only) classes are available in one or three-month packages. Blue Bubbles also offers aqua therapy, classes for people with disabilities and a senior program, not to mention a variety of classes for infants, toddlers and children.

*Added bonus: Visiting Egypt’s multiple stunning beaches and other bodies of water will be way more fun if you’re a confident swimmer.

Courtesy: Randi Berez

2. Horseback riding

While some classic childhood activities include struggling with an instrument and trying your luck at tennis, I decided to suggest something slightly less mainstream and a little more accessible. An elegant sport, horseback riding comes in as a handy pastime if you live by the desert. Not only does riding come with its physical benefits, it takes you outdoors, exposing you to nature and its curative properties, and it helps you build a relationship with a graceful animal.

Recommendation: Cairo Horse Riding School

Located 20 minutes out of Maadi, the British-Egyptian riding school uses a “holistic teaching approach,” focusing largely on the relationship between the rider and the horse. Learners are also encouraged to care for their new friends by feeding, showering and grooming them. The riding school’s facilities include two riding arenas — a bigger one for jumping and dressage, and a smaller one for beginners.

The horses are well tended to: the school has an automated horse walker as well as an in-house bridle path edged with greenery and mango trees. The stables are spacious, well-equipped and comfortable. For the humans, there is a picnic area that invites riders, their families and friends to enjoy an outdoor snack. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

*Added bonus: The proceeds of the riding school go toward their active horse rescue and rehabilitation program, which has already given numerous mistreated horses “a chance to land on their hooves.”

Courtesy: Cairo Horse Riding School

3. Dancing

Although it is not considered a sport per se, dance shares many elements of competitive sports. It demands fitness, capability, discipline and often times, a competitive streak. More importantly, dancing can be an enjoyable and uplifting release. Building stamina and strengthening your body are expected byproducts, and the chance to fine-tune your coordination and increase your rhythm makes it all the more special. Another attribute of dance is that it caters to all sorts of tastes and comes in a range of styles from belly dancing to hip-hop.

Recommendation: Danssabeel

An educational space that encourages self-development through dance and movement, Danssabeel positions itself as a platform where students, dancers, choreographers, musicians and performance artists can network, learn and collaborate. The programs are flexible yet disciplined and include Musical Body, which combines music theory and folkloric dance from all across Egypt; Moving Body, which is a medley of lyrical jazz, dance consciousness and contemporary movements; while Classic Dance integrates classical ballet and Pilates. Hip-hop classes are available for three different levels, though belly dancing is yet to be offered. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

*Added bonus: You can show off your moves anywhere, be it on a stage, the beach, or happily alone in your living room.

Courtesy: Danssabeel

4. Learning a new language

Though it might be easier for children to pick up a new language, the idea of learning one later in life shouldn’t be written off. People move to new countries and learn their languages all the time, and with language apps abundant and varied, who needs to actually travel anyway? Just kidding.


Becoming bi- or trilingual is a healthy treat for your mind since it heightens the brain’s cognitive processes. Adding a language to your communication skills certainly comes recommended, even if you’re not going to be traveling anytime soon. While I wouldn’t personally recommend trying to learn French — it’s too exclusive and French speakers are judgmental of beginners — there are countless other languages to tickle your mind. There are popular choices such as Italian and German, but you could always go that extra mile and attempt to learn Japanese or Russian. хотите пива, anyone?

Recommendation: Official cultural institutes

The safest route when it comes to learning a language in Cairo is to take classes at a cultural institute. Learn German at the Goethe Institut or at the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), to learn Italian head to the Italian Cultural Institute and so on. In this sense, your choice of language is unbounded, and the institution you’re learning it at is as credible as possible.

*Added bonus: You can pretend to not speak your newly learned language and listen in on people’s conversations when you travel.

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5. Being on wheels

Skateboarding, rollerblading or riding a bicycle (yes, there are many adults who don’t know how to ride a bicycle) — rediscover the thrill of being on wheels. As I struggled to avoid falling on my face at a roller disco last summer, the loss of my ability to skate was not the only thing that struck me. I was also reminded of how exciting getting around on wheels can be. Whether it be skating, cycling or rollerblading, putting yourself on a set of wheels is not only a full-body workout that tones and improves balance, it’s also a whole lot of fun. Moreover, losing your balance every now and then is a good reminder of the need let go sometimes, and in this case, literally fall.

Recommendation: Call a friend

If you want to become familiar with skateboarding or finally learn how to ride a bike, calling up a friend for help would be the best bet. Bicycles should be easier to find help with, but if you don’t have a friend that knows how to rollerblade, or you don’t have any friends at all, you can always turn to YouTube videos to direct the way. Ultimately, no one can really teach you how to balance on wheels or do it for you, they can only give you pointers on how to minimize injury.

*Added bonus: You can use your wheels to avoid traffic while remaining a green and conscientious friend of the earth.

Tanya El Kashef 

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