Get ready to meet the Egyptian 3 times calisthenics champion, Omar, the Arabian Pharaoh! In this interview, we’ll delve into his journey from starting calisthenics with a basic metal bar in his home to becoming a national and international champion and coach. We’ll also explore what calisthenics is, its difference from other fitness practices, and how anyone, regardless of age or athletic background, can start their own journey with the right guidance and effort. So, join us to learn all about Omar’s drive, purpose, vision, and tips for success in the world of calisthenics!
Q1. Who is the Arabian Pharaoh?
“I choose this name because I’m an Egyptian Arab and I’m proud of this unique mixture.”
Q2. What is your fitness or athletic history?
“Most of my life I practiced swimming, besides working out. When I started high school, I began going to the gym, but I got bored with the machines, I wanted something with more motion. I looked up Calisthenics on the internet, and I was set to find it, but sadly at that time, it was nowhere to be found in Egypt.
When there’s a will, there’s a way, so I put up a steel bar next to my house, with my father’s help. I was learning and training alone, getting injured along the way, while getting to know more. After 1 year I learned enough skills and started coaching my friends.”
Q3. Where is Omar NOW in his fitness level and athletic career?
“I am now recovering from an injury and working on social media and exposure to attract more sponsors to accomplish my goals in calisthenics. I am an athlete who joined a lot of competitions but I now aim to reach the top 5 in calisthenics, with the help of sponsors. I am currently also a coach at LA7.”
Q4. What is your drive? Your motto? Your purpose and vision?
“My drive is to live my life the way I want to, not the way people want to. I like to help people with calisthenics, anyone can train it anywhere, removing the barriers of place, time, and equipment. I try to spread awareness that people’s standards should not be ours.”
Q5. What does it mean to be a coach to you?
“Being a coach is something that brings joy to my heart, it was a long journey for me, and helping is more than a job to me.”
Q6. What is calisthenics and what’s its story?
“Calisthenics is a practice that depends on body weight only. It builds the body and muscles, gives great shape and body coordination, and is more enjoyable than the machines in the gym. The rate of improvement and skills gain is great and amusing. Calisthenics comes from the Greek words kallos sthenos, which translated to beauty and strength. I desire to offer more places for calisthenics.”
Q7. How can a complete beginner start his calisthenics journey? Do they have to be athletes or can they be complete beginners?
“To start, you will go through the basic pushups, rows, and so on. People start by wondering and worrying about doing the hard advanced moves. You should start step by step, doing different versions for progression. There are also squats, crunches, superman, etc… I created workout programs on my YouTube channel with guidance in terms of right posture and progress. You don’t need to be a certain age, once you start, you will always progress.”
Q8. What’s the difference between calisthenics, gymnastics & CrossFit?
“The difference between calisthenics and everything else is that it requires body weight only, and the form is different than that of CrossFit’s. CrossFit is for competing mainly, but calisthenics is focused on shape and strength. Gymnastics starts at a young age, and you need a studio, however, calisthenics is flexible and could be practiced anywhere.”
Q9. You are 3 times Egyptian champ; can you tell us more?
“I started calisthenics alone, then I coached my friends, and after that, I connected with the few scattered calisthenics athletes around Egypt to create a community and host championships. The story started with land and a motto “Do what you can with what you have”. My friends and I built a mimic of different calisthenics parks and hosted a national championship, which I won.
After 2 months, I got a call to play in the world championships, alongside the legends I used to see in videos, it was too good to be true. After 2 months, I joined the competition in Russia, ranking 22 out of 70. I gained a lot of experience and passionately transferred the knowledge. I Tried connecting to sponsors, it started with a piece of the metal bar in my house to this, what I reached today.
In 2016, we got the judging team from the union. In this competition, I won the national championship and went to Russia again, ranking 15. It was all a personal effort, and I was very excited. I thought why not do the world championship in Egypt, at the pyramids? At that time, I was still a student. I managed to get the sponsors, handled the judging team, and the championship came to life. Athletes from all over the world came to compete. I am always trying to work on myself and spread calisthenics, we created an Egyptian federation or more like a union in Egypt. There are now over 7 competitions per year.”
Q10. What is some advice you would like to share with the readers?
“My advice to people is to follow their dreams no matter how difficult or unreal they might seem. I had no idea how to achieve my dream, things work as long as you do, and your goals find you.”