Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Baghdad Residents, Health Club Fanatics?

The popularity of health clubs reflects slowly changing attitudes in a country where healthy living has never been a priority. The new gyms are very different, with nonstop loud music, mirrors covering most of the walls and supplementary protein formulas for sale. Working out has become one of the few diversions available to young Iraqis. Baghdad has no functioning cinemas or discos and no Western-style cafes where men and women can meet or surf the Web over a cappuccino. Stage productions are rare and mostly restricted to matinees. ‘Where else would the young people go?’ said Ahmed Sami, manager of the Dragon Gym in Karradah. ‘They come here, work out and go home to eat dinner and sleep.’ Ali Abbas, 31, who owns the Dragon Gym, says his business is up by about 80 percent since 2003.”

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