Moving around a lot, the gym has always been my center — my home sweat home. In conflicted Iraq finding a place to work out can be a challenge and safety is an issue. That hasn't stopped these Iraqi bodybuilders in Sadr City preparing for a muscleman competition at the end of this week.
The workout scene in Iraq is decidedly different from the 24-hour Fitness you may be used to — according to this description in the Washington Post, steroids are sometimes vended openly in gyms (sometimes animal steroids), sweat is a good thing — towels are few and far between — and no one bats an eye if someone does a set, lights up a cigarette out the window, and continues his workout.
In a country where skin is mostly kept under wraps, these posing hulks stand out — and not just for their muscles. Despite the healthy competition, breaking a sweat also breaks some of the tension of living in the precarious region. It's an outer strength to match the inner fortitude required by their environment.