Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Gaza boys reclaim their freedom with street workouts


Gaza - For Bakr Magadma, and his Bar Palestine crew, their dream is to compete in the street workout world championships, a social movement of fitness enthusiasts who compete against one another in body weight exercises in the outdoors.

However, for the crew this will not be a possibility any time soon. This is not due to a lack of skill, strength or commitment, but rather because Magadma, Iyad Aiyad, Sliman Taleb and Mahmoud Nasman live on the Gaza Strip.

Street workout is the formalised discipline of outdoor bodyweight workouts which consist of exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups as well as a number of static holds such as the human flag. The first world championships were held in Latvia in 2011, and the next will be held in Russia at the end of 2015.

“We would love to attend the world championships of street workout,” says Magadma, “but in Gaza we cannot attend because of the blockade. It’s too challenging trying to travel out of Gaza.”

In 2007, after the Palestinian Liberation Organisation-affiliated Fatah government was removed by the more extreme Hamas party, a strict economic blockade was enforced on the area by both Israel and Egypt on the basis that Fatah forces were no longer providing security in the area.

The blockade has both eased and strengthened in the years since then, but as it currently stands, Egypt maintains and almost totally closed the land border with Gaza, and Israel maintains a strict land, air and sea blockade.

This has severely limited the travel in and out of the region for its 1.8 million inhabitants, leading many to describe it as ‘the world’s largest open-air prison’ in one of the most densely populated areas on earth. more

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