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Hip Istanbul Turns Fit:

Turkey

Up until recently, the Turks idea of exercising was to eat pastries and drink raki. Things have changed quite a bit over the last decade. New sports clubs have spread across the city like quick fire, so much so that to behold a sports club membership card has become the ‘in-thing’ and no longer is the reserve of the country’s elite.

Local hipsters joining fitter expats at the latest gym class isn’t the rare site it used to be. Neither is the many joggers running by the shore in the early hours of the morning. Their skinny tight wrapped legs peddling through the fresh air, with the latest headphones glued to their ears, blaring out the latest tunes from their iPhone 5, with the Nike + app doing its bit to monitor the wannabe champion’s performance on any given morning.

Jogging has become so popular in Istanbul, to the extent that it’s now virtually impossible to find a parking space in Belgrade Forest. Up until recently, the guarded territory of the local picnic crowd, now the running ground of the hipster turned ‘sportster’.

Istanbul’s most high-profile running event, the Eurasia Marathon, has become the ‘must attend’ sporting event for local celebrities and more surprisingly, for the couch potato living next door.

“How did this all begin?” you might ask. Most likely due to the emergence of the now ubiquitous celebrity culture and lifestyle – all too accessible via Instagram, Twitter or facebook and the regular media. But this isn’t a bad thing really. Catching inspiring photos of celebrities running the New York or Berlin marathon can only be a positive for the people of Istanbul. Turkish celebrities have caught onto the trend as well, posting their latest sporting achievements on the various social media platforms, thereby inspiring local hipsters to do the latest ‘in-thing’: quit smoking and drinking, and shift to a healthier lifestyle.

The most rewarding outcome of this increasingly active lifestyle isn’t just to the individual’s own health and benefit. Initiatives such as Adim Adim (Step by Step) help disabled people take part in these events as well as enable runners to raise awareness and funds for an organisation of their choice to help those in the need.

When combined, this collection of high-profile sporting events, healthy activities and pro bono initiatives molds into such a positive and powerful movement, that it’s safe to say: the trend is here to stay.

Belgrade Forest
Images: courtesy of Mehves Dramur