Sport shouldn’t be a privilege for a few. Journey to the italian people’s gyms

The phenomenon of the people’s gyms was born in Italy about 20 years ago, today there are about 50 centers scattered throughout the national territory.

These spaces, often illegally occupied, are former schools, old barracks, Aterp boiler rooms, and offer everyone the opportunity to practice sports.

Immigrant people, children with disabilities, men and women in serious economic difficulties, simple students: all find in these gyms poles of integration and formation of healthy micro-communities.

Self-financing or small amounts that members can pay, allow these places to survive in contexts that could be hostile.

Despite the various adversities faced, this phenomenon is having success and leading many athletes to compete at national and European level in their own disciplines. A virtuous example is the one of Rome, where the girls of artistic gymnastics have won regional and national titles.

Initially born as a reality related to boxing, today the popular gyms in Italy offer various sport activities. These gyms were created and are kept alive by people who strongly believe in the right to sport for every human being.

As Verdiana Mineo, one of the founders and instructor of the Palestra Popolare di Palermo also points out: “In our society, sport has become a privilege for a few people and we want to bring this wall down”.


Antonio Mercurio
IG @totonwski