Bodybuilding Clubs in Kabul

by A. Raffaele Ciriello (1998)

In Summer ’95, Kabul was not such a bad place to live. At least, not for bodybuilders, or for fitness-conscious people in general. Several body building clubs were opened in town, and all of them gathered quite a lot of young men, especially during the rush hours. I visited two of them late in the afternoon, and I found both of them more crowded than my pictures can show. Ok, we are used to heavily-chromed machines, soft music, thick carpets and shining weight-bars. Those posters of Stallone (Rocky) or Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) hanging from the walls, or the weights which are made out of soviet armoured cars gears welded together might make us smile. But the guys you see in my pictures were having a lot of fun.

Notice the weight bars are made from shift gears.

Although different from ours, and very simple by comparison,
these clubs in Kabul were providing customers a lot of fun.

These guys were truly glad to pose for me around the panel on the first floor of the building along the Kabul river.

I came back to Kabul in November 1996, and I went to visit my friend who is the owner of the body building club along the Kabul river.

He had been forced to remove the colourful panel hanging out on the first floor. To my surprise, I found there the same guy that I had photographed more than one year before.

This was something I couldn’t resist. I had to take that same picture, once more. The “click” of my camera sounded like a rifle shot bouncing between the spoiled walls of a desert club which didn’t exist any longer.

There are many ways a town can die.
–A. Raffaele Ciriello
All photos are copyrighted by A. Raffaele Ciriello. Reuse or republishing of these photos is a violation of copyright law.