Say the words Muscle Beach and you'll likely think of hard-bodied men pumping iron on a balmy strip of sand near a boardwalk in Venice Beach, California—but over 6,000 miles away in Senegal's capital city of Dakar, there's another outdoor gym that goes by the very same name.
Jungles in Paris, the travel site that introduced us to the "Red Devil" buses of Panama City, the Haitian "Vodou Cleanse," and the unchartered waters of Montego Bay where horses go for a leisurely swim, recently sent photographer Ali Withers to the western African city of Dakar, where she got to know some of the regulars who hit to the beach after work or school. (Nearly 90% of Senegalese citizens are Muslim, so happy hour isn't really on anyone's agenda.)
"The sessions are very much DIY...[at] what might be the world's largest daily workout group," reports the site. "No air-conditioning or state-of-the-art machines at this fitness center, and nary a fancy sneaker." The beach is within walking distance of Cheikh Anta Diop University, so many of the guys who work out there are students. They bench press old tire rims, do pull-ups on bars bolted into the ground, and run drills timed by volunteer coaches.
Senegal as a whole has a pretty physical culture in general. While its national soccer team didn't qualify for this year's world cup, more than a handful of its players have risen to stardom with football clubs around the world, leaving us to wonder how many of them did running drills on this beach.
Visit Jungles in Paris for more pictures of the beach and its denizens.
—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner.
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