Ukrainians enjoy freedom in improvised outdoor gym

Jun 12, 2020
PHOTO: AP

By EVGENIY MALOLETKA

KYIV, Ukraine — Relishing an opportunity to exercise after Ukraine's coronavirus lockdown, hundreds of Kyiv residents have been flocking to an improvised outdoor workout area on an island facing the capital.

The Kachalka gym has enjoyed broad popularity ever since it opened on Dolobetskiy Island in 1966.

People coming here to relax on the Dnipro River after a day at the office mix with young couples and sports enthusiasts who lift weights for hours.

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When the Ukrainian government ordered a lockdown on March 11 to stem the spread of the coronavirus, police blocked the bridge to the island. The open-air workouts were allowed to resume at the end of May, when other sports facilities across the country also reopened.

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Most of the Kachalka gym's equipment was built with scrap metal, such as old machine tools and parts. The benches, weight sets and pull-up bars are chained to the ground to prevent theft. Users carefully maintain them and make new pieces for the collection.

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Andriy Demyanchenko, 55, said he desperately missed the place during the lockdown.

"I've been training here since 1985, and for me this is the best place to train," said Demyanchenko, who trains for eight hours a day. "I use all types of gym equipment present here."

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