Interview with Street Workout athlete Smith Mangena

Smith Mangena is a South African International Street Workout athlete who was ranked top 20 in the world at the 2013 World Championships. had a chat to him to find out more about this international phenomenon, which is taking the fitness world by storm Tell us about this new phenomenon called street workout.  What is Street Workout?


SM Answer: Street Workout also known as Calisthenics is a new sport where athletes use their own body as an instrument to train. For the extreme athletes the basic gym equipment used are: Pull-up Bar, Parallel bar and monkey bars of which can be found in any competition.  However, in principle the world is our gym we use our surroundings to train by using things like park bench, trees, washing line etc.


The sport is currently being administered by World Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation (WSWCF).  Its function is to unite all athletes and teams all over the world in an effort to regulate the activities and events. The sport is considered the fastest growing sports in the world, why is that?  What drives people’s interest all over the world?


SM Answer:  Street Workout is a social movement aiming to uplift and develop communities around the world. It is a free sport therefore no gym membership is required because people can use existing public facilities such as recreational parks to train. The sport has no age restriction young or old people can push their own body to perform gravity defying stunts. How did you get introduced to the sport?


SM Answer: We found ordinary weights to have become a bit tedious and needed to try something new that would achieve greater results.  We then started to explore the use of kettle-bells by doing handstands and L-sits on them.  We uploaded a video on YouTube video and came across a well-known figure in the street workout community called “Hannibal For King” who inspired us to expand our training routine and to include bars. Tell me about your 2013 trip to Latvia, how did you perform at that event?


SM Answer: It was an honour representing South Africa at the Street Workout World Championships in Latvia and become the first African in the history of the sport to take part in this prestigious event. I was ranked 18th in the world after my performance which was mainly on the kettle-bells which has now been accepted to be used for future competitions.


In 2014 my teammate Nkululeko Makhaya won the national championships and represented South Africa in World Championship in Moscow.  Him and his brother also competed in the Johannesburg World Cup stage and finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.  Both team members went to represent South Africa in the Super-Finals in Oslo, Norway of which Sizwe placed 6th and Nkululeko 11th.


I had the honour of being selected as 1 of the 8 international Judges for the Super-final in Norway.  So South Africa is making strides on the international stage. What equipment is used in Street Work out?


SM Answer: The most basic equipment is the Pull-up bar, Parallel bar and monkey bar. Ultimately the world is our gym. People say it is a full body work out, talk to me about the types of movements that are included in this sport?  How does this allow one to focus on all the muscle groups?


SM Answer:  Pull-ups, dips, muscle-ups, L-sit these are examples of exercises that enable functional training and targets stability muscles often overlooked in weight training. The exercises work your entirebody up to and including abs, back, arms, quads etc. What role does weight play in this type of training? Why are you so focused on the use of one’s own-body weight?


SM Answer:  Street Workout focuses on gaining full body control and to achieve this one needs to train with their own body weight because it is your body’s natural movement. One of the most frequently performed training exercises is to simply master Push-ups and Pull ups. Apparently there is a saying is Street Workout that says “you can’t cheat the core.”   What does that mean?


SM Answer:  I think this may have few other meanings, however for us it simply means once you do a move such as an L-sit your core has no choice but to work. Your core is fundamental in super human like strength. What is Gravitycore, what is all that about?


SM Answer: Team Gravity Core is a Street Workout team originated from the south of Jhb which supports and trains other Street Workout athletes who are interested in this sport. We are proud to mention that we have partnered with Kengugu Pro-based in Russia, who specialise in building Street Workout parks throughout the world. We have been certified to build quality Parks and become their main distributor in Africa. How can one get started in this sport?


SM Answer: I would advise that one should look at joining a team close to their area. In Johannesburg we have Team Gravity Core, Defianz Calisthenics, Klerksdorp there is Bar-Evolutions. Bloemfontein there is Silverbacks Calisthenics and in Cape Town there is Urban Calisthenics and Cape Cali these teams are registered with the South African Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation and recognized by the WSWCF. Alternatively one can view YouTube tutorials and gradually build from there however remember to seek medical advice before attempting to perform ANY sort of exercises. As mentioned previously basic moves consist of push-ups, pull-ups, muscle-ups, dips etc.  More details can be requested at The sport is the fastest growing sport in the world (by 640%). But in South Africa it is slowly building traction.  What do you think needs to be done in South Africa, to increase the interest in Street Workout?


SM Answer: We need to have more public parks and schools equipped for Street Workout enthusiasts. We are introducing it to the schools and universities however it is still in the early stages.  I think visibility is key in creating awareness especially in the mainstream media. We are in a process of engaging government to build parks at strategic areas.


We hope to take on sponsors in 2015 which will help to increase the awareness and drive towards a health nation. How can people follow you or contact you, for more information on the sport?


SM Answer:


We can be found on:


Facebook: Gravity Core (Gcore)

Twitter @GCoreSA

Instagram: @Teamgravitycore

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