What you’re looking at is not a playground, but children do enjoy playing here. Although empty in this picture, these outdoor gyms that are in every Beijing neighborhood are crammed with people of all ages every night without fail. That’s right, this brightly colored collection of machinery is a gym. It is free and open to the public and people actually use it. It has everything from elliptical trainers, to weights, to rowing machines; even powerless tread mills!
If there’s one stereotype that we as the United States deserve, it’s that we do harbor a large population of obese people. This is not only due to our high-calorie, low nutrition diet but also due to our lack of exercise. What Beijing has done with these outdoor gyms is make exercise fun and accessible. In America, if you want to work out, chances are you have to shell out for some kind of gym membership then you have to drive across town to get there. These outdoor gyms are all over the place and are easily set up anywhere from parks to alleyways to vacant lots.
While here, I’ve been exercising everyday but it’s not easy to do… Because other people are always on all the machines! The people love these machines and so do I. While I often find fault with many of China’s government programs (see geological preserve), this is one thing that it has done exceptionally well.
I would like to be able to suggest bringing this idea to America, I know that it’s sadly impossible due to the lawsuit-happy nature of our society. I guess the YMCA will have to do for now.