Monday 20 November 2017

Steel Warriors Calisthenics Park!

Athlete who used to 'deal drugs' tells how outdoor gym made from melted knives is offering young people a way out of crime

An international athlete who used to deal drugs in London has told how an outdoor gym made from seized and surrendered knives is offering young people a way out of gang culture.
Steel Warriors, in east London, is a free open-air gym made from two tonnes of surrendered and confiscated knives claimed by Met Police that launched last month.
The site, in Langdon Park, Poplar, features steel bars used for calisthenics – a form of exercise combining simple gymnastics and par course free running.
Calisthenics athletes have praised the development, saying it will “keep kids off the streets”.
The gym is 57 per cent made from reclaimed knives (Steel Warriors)
The charitable initiative aims to raise awareness of knife crime in London while highlighting the reasons why young people are carrying knives – “to protect themselves and to ‘gain respect’ within their peer groups”, according to the charity.
The new gym comes after crime figures released in October showed a 26 per cent increase in knife crime, with nearly half of the increase attributed to London.
Steel Warriors hope the gym, made from 57 percent reclaimed knives, will offer young people a free and “safe” space to train, build more physical confidence and show strength in a non-violent way.
It is located adjacent to Spotlight Youth Club, which offers a range of free programmes for young people and runs boxing and dancing strength training at the site.
The gym is located in Langdon Park, adjacent to youth club Spotlight (Steel Warriors)
Co-founder of Steel Warriors, Pia Fontes said: “We were told by police that an important part of where the gym should be located is that it needs to be a safe zone.
“Spotlight is a neutral zone – it’s incredible because kids come from all over to the youth club.”
She added: “It’s not going to completely stop knife crime but we hope it will make a difference in people’s lives.
“Even just having it there as a message that there is an alternative to gangs.
“Most of the people we have met in calisthenics came from areas impacted by crime and it has helped them.”

Jay Chris, 22, co-founder of calisthenics group Barsparta, was one of these before he went on to gain international acclaim in the sport, and train rap stars including Tinie Tempah.
The athlete praised the gym as “a good place for kids to hang around” and said the Steel Warriors facility was the “best” in London.
Mr. Chris said the sport had helped him move away from a youth “dealing drugs” in north London.  Originally from Camden, he started working out at an outdoor space on Primrose Hill three years ago.
“It’s [calisthenics] taken me away from all the bad people,” he said. “I was involved with dealing drugs and hanging around with the wrong people.”
He added: “I was adopted; I didn’t have parents, so I didn’t have anyone to look up to. I looked up to drug dealers.”
Callisthenics: the sport has offered many a way out of crime in London (Steel Warriors)
The World Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation (WSWCF) Champion in 2016, Mr. Chris has traveled the world competing in the sport, winning 13 out of 15 times.
He said: “I have got a job now from this. I teach classes. I don’t take drugs anymore.
“I have become professional, all because of calisthenics.”
The athlete also said the sport meant he gained respect throughout the capital, which he felt was important in light of gang culture in London today.
“Kids now are scared of going to certain areas,” he said. “I have a lot of respect in different areas of London because of calisthenics. This is what I want kids to feel.”

Qualified personal trainer Abir Hussen, 30, has been enjoying the gym and shared videos of himself working out alongside children at the space on Instagram.
He said: “We need more of these gyms across London.
“This is a great platform, especially for youngsters. It’s a great way to get kids off the streets.”
Two tonnes of seized knives from Met Police were melted down for the gym (Steel Warriors)
Daniel Rose, director at Spotlight, said he is meeting with groups of young children who want to set up their own clubs at the site. The director praised the gym for being “really accessible”.
He said the gym is being used “day and night” by a wide sector of the community, including parents and children, and that it delivers a strong message from the public against knife crime.
Mr. Rose said: “It’s amazing to have this as a showcase. It’s a real public statement to get behind stopping knife crime.”
A unique ‘Snapcode’ at the site allows visitors to the gym to find training videos on Snapchat demonstrating how to use the equipment.
The Steel Warriors gym, founded by Ben Wintour and Pia Fontes, was built by a team of structural engineers led by Heyne Tillett Steel, who previously worked on the Science Museum.
The charity is fundraising to build more gyms in boroughs across London affected by high levels of knife crime.

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