In Libya, an increasingly popular sport has an English name: Street Workout. It’s a physical activity based on athletics that promotes fitness and bodybuilding and is performed mostly outdoors, using only the athlete’s body weight to strengthen muscles and improve fitness.
In Al-Bayda City we meet Ahmad Husein Muhammed Bu Mughtatha, a Computer Science student at Omar Al-Mukhtar University. He is 21 years old, and first tried Street Workout about a year ago. Ahmad tells us that it was founded at the end of the twentieth century by an American, Lazar Yokftsh, who started filming his exercises to show how much they helped his rehabilitation and picked up a large following on Facebook and YouTube.
Ahmad says Street Workout gets its name because it is never practised indoors, but rather out on the streets, beaches, parks and squares of the city, in the open air and in nature. A mix of gymnastics and weightlifting, it has become particularly popular since 2012 in Russia, the States and elsewhere, due to being free, enjoyable and useful. Anyone can do it, regardless of weight, age or fitness, and no equipment is needed. There is now an international Street Workout league for team competition, with a world championship every year.
Ahmad continues: “After that I met a friend from Benghazi called Ahmed Eid, a Parkour player who practised Street Workout to enhance and boost his bodybuilding. Then I met two guys who had not practised any kind of sport before Street Workout, Al-Sanousi and Ibrahim from Al-Bayda City. One trained at home, so he used isometrics and high bars to keep training continuously.”
“Our interest in Street Workout motivated me and Al-Senousy to set up a private gym for this sport in Al-Bayda City. In July 2016 we opened our gym ourselves, without any help from our district, so we could establish a strong team to spread the name of Al-Bayda City and participate in all the championships we are invited to.
“Many young guys between seven and twenty years old are coming to the gym. The number of participants is increasing, with 17 training regularly. There are about 50 people doing this sport in Libya, most of them in Tripoli and Benghazi. What made me so interested in this sport is the possibility of self advancement and the challenge of performing a hard exercise that takes a long time to get right. When I posted on Facebook that one day I will do the Mana exercise, a very hard one, I did not expect to succeed; but six months after the post, I did. This exercise is taken from gymnastic, but some Street Workout trainers developed it.”
On public opinion, Ahmad tells us: “People have different points of view about Street Workout. My family refused the idea of letting me practise this sport at the beginning, but after the great progress my body had, they changed their minds and started supporting me.”
We ask whether the long training hours cut into his study time. “Yes, at the beginning it was hard managing between two important things, but the success is in time management. Although I have been devoted to exercise for a long time, I am doing well with study.”
At the end of our meeting, Ahmad advises people of all ages to try this free sport, one which does not even need a trainer. Simply by watching videos on YouTube, everyone can learn the basics and exercise alone at home. However, there are many incorrect exercises on YouTube that do not belong to this sport, so being sure is a must. He calls for the sport to be recognised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.