Italy

Working-class Gyms

When sport becomes a fundamental right

Self-financed, reasonably priced spaces with opportunities for integration that give thousands of people – even those who can’t afford it – the chance to practice sport. They’re known as “working-class gyms”, in Italy there are around fifty and they are (often) located in occupied spaces: former schools, abandoned barracks, unused convents. DIY spaces where physical activity – boxing, above all, but also karate, muay thai, yoga, capoeira, sport climbing, or artistic gymnastics – meets social solidarity in areas that lack real gathering spaces.

A successful phenomenon, confirmed by the large number of athletes, adults, and children, who – thanks to the working-class gyms and the highly qualified personnel – have arrived at a level of professionalism and even national competition. “We think that sport is a fundamental right” – Verdiana Mineo of the Working-Class Gym Palermo, in the Sicilian gym of the same name, explains – “but in our society it often becomes a privilege for the few that can afford it. We want to break down that wall”.

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