San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Exercise Equipment Gets People Moving in San José

A playground of sorts for kids of all ages is attracting passersby in downtown San José, thanks to a recent donation of six pieces of exercise equipment by the Chinese-Costa Rican Chamber of Industry and Trade.

The yellow and blue apparatus are stationed in the Plaza de Garantias Sociales, behind the giant Social Security System (Caja) building. Many resemble machines one might find in a gym or see advertised on late-night TV infomercials, but they’re simpler, made out of metal and powered totally by human force.

“It’s fun because you get to do exercise,” said 12-year-old Diana Madrigal as she hoisted herself back and forth on a contraption resembling a rowing machine.

Madrigal was one of a gaggle of children who recently discovered this new urban attraction and enjoyed it as if it were a playground built just for them. Nearby, cars honked, vendors hawked snacks and lottery tickets, and life went on as usual in this busy city.

Lottery vendor Juana Picada took a break from her table to try a piece of equipment with a disk and handles that make its user twist and turn when standing on it.

“It’s nice, but I don’t have enough time for it,” she said, laughing and twisting away in her frilly street vendor’s apron.

The chamber donated the equipment to the San JoséMunicipality as part of San José Possible, an effort to “rescue” the city and turn it into a safe, attractive place to spend time, according to a statement from the municipality. It came from China and is based on the principals of Tai Chi.


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