in Paris, the success of street sport

Par Catherine Rollot

Posted today at 6:00 p.m.

Summer and winter alike, bars as exercise support. Vertical, horizontal, parallel, protected by an openwork wooden roof. On the ground, a covering of gray wooden slats. For three years, it is on this rectangular stage of 345 square meters that a funny spectacle on open-air apparatus has been played every day. The decor is from the City of Paris. Located in the 14e district, at the end of rue Didot, the « street workout », in other words “street bodybuilding”, is one of the thirty or so spaces of this type in the capital.

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The place is located along the promenade Jane-et-Paulette-Nardal, two sisters, Martinican women of letters from the interwar period, forgotten theorists of the negritude movement. It is one of the “living rooms” which punctuate a long vegetated ribbon of more than 500 meters, inspired, according to the City of Paris, by the shape of the wing of the pipistrelle, a species of protected bat, which nests. in the old tunnels of the Petite Ceinture Parisienne, below. Not sure that the actors in costumes dominated by Lycra who invest in this agora at regular times have noticed it. No more than walkers, schoolchildren returning to class, employees on lunch break, residents of the neighborhood, indifferent or intrigued by this free open-air gym club. Return in five acts on this new sports forum.

6 h 30: Calisthenics et adeptes de qi gong

The “street workout” area attracts both “inflatable” enthusiasts as well as early morning yoga enthusiasts.

Calisthenics ? Kallos, beautiful, and sthenos, strong. We did not expect a Greek course early in the morning. Yet it is Anselme, a young consultant in the legal field, who dispenses it to us early in the morning. It’s been a good half hour since the young man has imposed a brazen program, between bodybuilding and gymnastics. Push-ups, sit-ups, planks, pull-ups, dips (to strengthen the triceps), his morning menu is full-bodied. Anselme discovered the sport a year and a half ago, and since then he has been a bit « addict ». “We don’t need any material. Only the weight of the body serves as resistance. “ There is also no need to pay an annual subscription to the theater in your neighborhood when you just need a place to hang out. Find a different atmosphere, “Simpler, more sympathetic, with people with more varied profiles than in a room”, it is also the little extra of these « spots » outdoor.

A few meters away, dressed all in pink, Virginie, a banking advisor, the smartphone propped up against her water gourd, strives to follow the program on the screen. « summer body » of an application. She prefers to breathe in the open air, “But early in the morning, to be quiet”. One of her friends came to do some yoga poses on the esplanade. A much nicer sun salutation than in front of the window of his two-room apartment. It’s zen time. In the distance, the silhouette of Hervé, an architect in his fifties, a follower of qi gong, stands out. With his feet firmly anchored in the ground, the man goes through static and dynamic postures several times a week. In praise of slowness, circulation of energy, control of body and mind. From Greece to China, via India, the day begins.

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