Robot Tribune is an in-the-making British magazine thriving to share genuine and uncommon urban stories from around the World. Twice a year, it will publish 7 handpicked reports written by young copywriters about one specific aspect of the city where they live. An emblematic traditional street-food dish in Mumbai, the fight of a Spanish priest to deprive a fitness venue to settle in an abandoned church in the suburbs of Madrid… I chose to focus on a street work out crew in Lyon, France, called Body Art Athletes de Rue.
Sunday, 10am, Quai Claude Bernard, Lyon, eastern bank. A few pedestrians stride under the rain, along the brown water of the Rhône splashing the flanks of still barge boats. Families and joggers subtly peep at our peculiar group, as we tear the winter silence with our music, laughs and bedlam. We are Body Art Athletes de Rue, a local street workout crew, warming up for our weekly meet-up “sur les berges” *.
*on the bank.
In 2010, Agnes Maemblé, 37yo, survives a risky heart surgery. She decides to quit her job and launches an association promoting street workout among Lyon youngsters, especially in precarious suburbs where she wants to convey values of discipline, respect and team work through the enrollment in a sport crew. Tens of people from different backgrounds and ages, mingling in a small black and green pack.
Under the snow, the rain, the overwhelming heat, we follow Alexandre and Florian, our voluntary coaches, who turn everyday elements of the urban architecture into free workout gear. We climb stairs up and down, crawl under fences, make push-ups again the guard rails, cross a bridge with the strength of our arms. Back to “the spot”, the music kicks in. Desiigner, Panda. O.T. Genasis, I’m in love with the Coco. Everyone sings along in approximate English. Dips, squats, push-ups, pull-ups. We know our routines. We have each other.
Body Art Athlete de Rue is a social project, aiming to let everyone own the urban space and its own body. It’s a school made of one mixed, unique class, opened every Sunday, 10am, Quai Claude Bernard, Lyon, eastern bank.