Monday, January 9, 2017

Rome Journal: Stadium Climbing

stadium at Philippopolis (photograph: Ivelin Vraykov)
Anyone who has ever done collegiate sports will recall stadium step climbing. If you rowed you’ll undoubtedly remember the brutal running up and down that produced those optimum aerobic states. Rome doesn’t have a helluva a lot of top flight gyms. The word Equinox may derive from the Latin aequinoctium, but there are as yet no branches of the Equinox chain of fitness centers in the Eternal City. But there's a kind of working out which doesn’t require elaborate equipment or high priced memberships and its one that makes use of the surrounding environment. In this regard Rome is a fitness freak’s paradise. It’s not surprising that the major American fitness chains have either not tried or been unable to establish outposts there (as fast food outlets like McDonald's and Subway have), despite the huge number of Americans who visit each year. You don’t need any stair climbers in Rome. Stairs are everywhere. If you are on the Gianicuolo which is one of Rome’s seven hills and you want to go down to Trastevere you have your choice of ancient stairs which offer all manner of inclines. You make your adjustment not by turning a dial on a machine, but simply by following another path. Of course the stadium itself is a Roman invention and while the guards might stop you if you try to use the Colosseo or the Circo Massimo for a workout, it releases a certain amount of historical memory. As you walk though Rome you can satisfy your gladiatorial instincts by taking off your touristic hat and negotiating the terrain as if you had come to conquer. Veni, vidi, vici!

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