The street Olympics

Amidst the London medal ceremonies, an underground competition was attracting a different kind of crowd. May we introduce the Spartan Games.

While the world's best athletes were vying for gold, another set of greatests with superhuman strength flocked to London to train for the Spartan Games, a street competition created by Iraq War vet and personal trainer "Chakabars" Clarke, which take place on August 19. The Spartan Fam, whose training is based on body weight principles, have moves to impress even the most seasoned gym-goer. "The philosophy is ‘anytime, any place, anything’," says Clarke. So, instead of specially built, architecturally sound arenas, this underground sector of real-life superheros uses nothing but the poles and scaffolding that line the London streets. Here are a few of the events. For those hardcore enough to attempt, may we suggest the pull-up bar and a mat:

front levers

Grip bar, palms up, arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage core and raise body until parallel to ground, arms straight, toes pointed. Hold for 5 seconds. To compete: Repeat 10 times.

the swings

A major shoulder workout, not to be confused with lache (parkour), find any bar and grab it, palms down. Hang underneath and then slightly engage scapula and kick feet forward until you are horizontal. Then, keeping scapula engaged, let gravity take your legs and body backwards, until body is in a horizontal position again. To compete: Do 3 sets of 20.

the human flag

Grip the top and bottom of a pole, arms much wider than shoulder-width apart, palms down. Engage core and raise legs so body is extended perpendicularly to pole. To compete: Hold for 5 seconds.

one-arm bicycles

Take an underhand grip on bar with right arm, elbow slightly bent. Engage abs and bring knees toward chest, then move legs in a cycling motion to the left and right. To compete: Cycle legs for 20 seconds. Switch arms; repeat. Do 4 sets.

back levers

Hang from bar hands shoulder-width apart. Kick your feet through your hands until you are upside down. Extend legs straight out behind you, straighten arms and smile.


Place hands on ground, look just beyond finger tips, then kick one leg at a time up into a handstand, core tight. You can start against a wall, then advance to mat and ultimately a rooftop in front of the Olympic rings.