16 / 04 / 2018

GymCap Is Put To The Test: Six Months In Mogadishu

The first GymCap was put to the testin one of the most challenging environments on earth: Mogadishu. Designed by a team who have experience working in conflict zones and providing gyms for the military as well as professional sports clubs, this modular, plug and play gym was successfully transported to Somalia, the containers were unpacked and the gym was assembled over just a few days.  Six months later we asked our guests at Chelsea Village, ESSS’s secure accommodation camp in the Mogadishu International Airport zone, what they had to say about their GymCap experience.

Tapio Itkonen, Country Manager Somalia, FRF

“Our company has been operating in Somalia since 2014 – we’ve stayed in several different camps and seen many different solutions for fitness facilities. As a standard, commercial life support options have very limited exercise facilities with simple solutions, meeting the minimum standards of “gym”. The previous gym at Chelsea Village is what I call a ‘jail-style’ gym – with weights made out of concrete, in very limited space. The good thing about this kind of gym, at least, was that it was never crowded!

Chelsea Village’s management team promised that a new, innovative, multi-functioning gym called GymCap would be ready within the next month. Nothing happened in coming weeks, and we didn’t see any construction work underway. Doubts of the gym being ready on time increased, despite the management’s persistent promises.

Until one day, after 2-3 weeks from the first promises, two containers arrived at the scene – we were told these contained all the required material and equipment for GymCap. Time was running and that promised month’s deadline was closing. I had seen gyms established in Mogadishu, taking several months to be operational. This didn’t really surprise me as it is pretty common here that the deadlines are not met.

Within three days, this fashionable multifunctioning GymCap was built from zero to fully operational cross-training gym.

Then the magic started to happen. Within three days, this fashionable multifunctioning GymCap was built from zero to fully operational cross-training gym. The gym arrived on Monday and by Thursday, we were able to have our first work out at the brand new GymCap. In less than a week, from the arrival of materials, everything was up and running. That was really impressive.

GymCap provides a variety of options for exercise, from cardio and mobility to heavy weightlifting and crosstraining. All equipment has been selected from top class equipment, taking into account details of demanding environments, like restrictions on electricity output (cardio machines with no external electricity needed) and highly demanding climate with high humidity and dust (rustproof equipment).

For our staff in Chelsea Village, GymCap has provided the important possibility to enhance and maintain physical and mental performance in this harsh environment.

GymCap has enabled our demanding staff to exercise as they want, from bodybuilding and crosstraining to gymnastics and stretching. Rigs are designed for both traditional weightlifting and crosstraining. Barbells and weights have been selected to last in this environment and enable dropping of the weights, which is required in Olympic lifting.

Rigs have been designed from rustproof materials which, after six months of use, are still in good condition, in the environment where salty ocean water causes everything to rust immediately. The composition of the GymCap that Chelsea Village has, provides enough equipment and space for the required amount of users at a time compared to the size of the camp.

We have been impressed by this innovation, which could be easily transferred to any remote location, adjusted in size to meet the demands to maintain the staff’s physical and mental wellbeing in a harsh environment. For our staff, GymCap has become a daily routine.”

Lamii Moivi Kromah, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)

“Since its grand opening in October 2017, GymCap at Chelsea Village has become the premier gym in the Mogadishu International Airport (MIA) zone. GymCap at Chelsea Village offers something for powerlifters, cross fitters and all other gym enthusiasts.

GymCap at Chelsea Village has become the premier gym in the Mogadishu International Airport (MIA) zone

The open-air construction of the gym allows for quicker cool downs after intense workout sessions. But more importantly GymCap has completely changed my mindset and transformed my body – something that is challenging to do when working in a restricted security environment. I’ve never been in a gym with a better vibe.”

Member of the US Government

“I appreciate this gym due to the open surfaces, the all-day accessibility and great variety of training gear. From strongman equipment to cardio room and traditional gym machines, there’s something for everyone. Everything has its own place and the facility is always well maintained. 

I get a better work out here than I do at my gym back home

Having worked in close to 20 countries, this is absolutely a valid candidate to be my favourite overseas training facility and it is undoubtedly the best gym that I’ve trained at within MIA. In summary, I get a better work our here than at my gym back home!