The Balkanisation of the Gym

Look.  You do know that I can hear you groaning?  I will admit that you have come up with the correct response, but not for the right reason (so it doesn’t count).  This will not be further tales of my mid-life crisis which, eschewing fast cars and/or women, I have chosen to spend hanging bat-like from bar or rings.  Vampires are still cool, right?  Or should allow age-related decay to have full rein and hope that zombie-chic is still in?

I have noticed that a significant number of exercises have been claimed by Balkan nations.  For some time, I have been attempting the Romanian deadlift, the Hungarian push-up and the Bulgarian dip (which is delicious and based, I think, on the humble chick-pea).  Yesterday, I was introduced to the Turkish get-up – a manoeuvre requiring not only strength and agility but also a significant grasp of choreography.  How the Ottoman Empire grew to such a size, when they have rendered the process of rising from the floor, palliasse or bed (I have failed to properly research Ottoman sleeping habits) so challenging, is a marvel.  I presume most never made it out from under the duvet, but those few that did then found conquering huge swathes of Asia and Europe a relative doddle.

Pondering the naming of these exercises, I wonder if they were one of the many bones of contention (a whole ossuary’s worth) that led to such misery and bloodshed during the nationalist disintegration of first the Habsburg and then Austro-Hungarian empires?    Given that this acrimonious break-up continues into the current century, it is probably only a matter of time before Montenegro, FYROM and Croatia have their own, national physical jerks (I’d like to imagine the last will involve a tie).  Still, I suppose it is important for a country to retain its physical culture.

Most of these Balkan exercises are somewhat niche in nature with only true athletes, like myself (stop sniggering at the back), attempting them.  However, there is one which those lads who otherwise prefer to stick with the bench press and bicep curl for their exercise regimen use on a very regular basis.  I refer, of course, to the regular need to Czech oneself out in the mirror!

(OK, even I’m embarrassed by that dénouement – but not enough, it would seem, to keep it to myself).

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