Egypt bodybuilders feel pain but no gain in virus lockdown
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by Farid Farid
Egypt’s musclemen are frustrated with working out from home due to coronavirus restrictions and are raring to get back to gruelling routines at their gyms, where they also earn a living.
With massive biceps and a gleaming six-pack, Mohamed Ali — who goes by his nickname Asab, a reference in Arabic to his bulging veins — is normally an enthusiastic exhibitionist.
The 33-year-old is a personal trainer and veteran participant of several bodybuilding championships with Egypt’s national team, which has a history of garnering gold medals on the world stage.
But when AFP visited his sunny home in an upscale gated community in eastern Cairo, Asab chuckled modestly that he was not in top shape.
“I’ve taken it upon myself… to use the lockdown to start competing again at the end of the year, since I have a lot of time on my hands these days,” he told AFP.
Egypt has been under a night-time curfew for the past three months to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, but the number of infections continues to rise.
The North African country, with a population of over 100 million, has officially recorded over 58,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,365 deaths.
Gyms have been shuttered as part of nationwide restrictions, but that has not deterred Asab from hitting his home gym hard.
He is re-sculpting a taut physique through an extremely demanding workout, in the hope of competing in Mr. Olympia — the world’s premier bodybuilding competition, tentatively scheduled for December in Las Vegas. (AFP)