In Egypt a former female tennis and swimming champion is defying the odds and doing what most females in Cairo may think twice about.
Neveen Al- Baaz is a weightlifter and she is training men in weightlifting, a male dominated field in her country..
Nivo as her trainees affectionately call her, used to play tennis, but later turned to swimming after a back injury.
I asked them 'what are you doing?' They said they were weightlifting so I decided to train with them.
Her interest in weightlifting was ignited during her swimming lessons where she went on to win national awards.
“ I asked them ‘what are you doing?’ They said they were weightlifting so I decided to train with them,” Nivo said after her first encounter with weightlifters.
She did not leave it there, she took it further to study in the United States.
“I then went to the United States for two months to finish a weightlifting course. I left tennis and started lifting weights. I also participated in the CrossFit open where i finished first in Egypt and 22nd in Africa,” Nivo added.
Nivo starts her training sessions at the Heliopolis Club in Cairo, as early as 6am local time.
“When I teach them the proper postures and techniques, the participants absorb the information better. Many of them will not accept training exercises given by other people. Not many of them will agree to increase weights when told by other people. You have to have a connection with someone, feel them and have trust in whoever it is to really apply your instructions”, Nivo said.
Her trainees, whom she calls “Gladiators” attest to her capabilities as a professional trainer.
“Nivo helps us to organise our lifestyle. She helps us organise our diet for the whole day so that as the day ends, I still feel energetic and active,” Sherif Aly Abdelaal, a trainee said.
“When I was training alone, I had trouble reaching my goals. She fixed many of the wrong things I used to do at the gym, just like anyone who goes to the gym….she then fixed many things in my diet,” added Youssef Nader another trainee.
Nivo holds a Master’s degree in Education. She also teaches English at a private University in Cairo.