Health & Environment

Take your power to the street

It is 2pm and scorching in Tin Sau Road Park, Tin Shui Wai. In a play- ground dominated by kids, a group of young adults, who call themselves "Barkids", are doing push-ups on bars.

They are not playing but doing street workout: a sporting activity performed outdoors that athletes say helps build muscles and confidence.

The World Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation, a Latvia-based non-profit, started the fitness craze that aims to improve people's health and quality of life. Its website describes the sport as "a social movement and a democratic sporting activity".

Mr Simon Lee Cheuk-ming, 28, a trainer and founder of "Barkids", says: "I hope I can help promote street workout in the community."

"Street workout is free, not restricted by rules, and at the same time, a spectator sport," says Mr Lee.

Mr Ken Lai Kai-jib is an 18-year- old street workout enthusiast who triumphed in the Hong Kong Street Workout Championship 2014. He then represented Hong Kong in the Street Workout Championship held in Russia.

"It's a challenge and target for myself," he says. "I gain a sense of satisfaction when I complete a move."

Mr Lai says he got interested in the sport on seeing someone doing it three years ago, and then went on YouTube to look for its training videos.

He started by doing basic physical training like push-ups. Then he pushed his boundaries by practicing the "human flag" – a static and continuous hold.

But experts have cautioned against relying solely on online tutorials to learn the sport.

Dr. Lobo Louie Hung-tak, a professor at the Department of Physical Education of Hong Kong Baptist University, is worried that young people without proper training might hurt their muscles in doing street workout.

"There's a possibility that training a single move might affect the fitness of muscles," he says, resulting in strained muscles and ligament injuries.

He suggests the athletes train step- by-step as it takes around four to six weeks for muscles to metabolise.

Athletes performing moves should wear tight-fitting clothes to avoid falling from the bars, he adds.

Dr Louie recognises the value of street workout, as muscle is the only tissue that grows while training. However, he is not optimistic about future development of street workout.

"It may not be able to sustain over the long term, since what is fashionable among young people is always changing," he said.

Back at the park, athletes shout out their slogans while training: "This is not about power; this is an attitude."

They keep their fingers crossed on the growth of this sport.

"It's development will go hand in hand with people's physical and spiritual demands," says Mr Lee.

 

By Joanne Lee

Edited by Yupina Ng

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