Fuxing Park in the former French Concession of Shanghai was built in French style and is especially popular with dancers. The craze for ballroom dancing peaked in Shanghai in the 1930s when the city had 200 ballrooms but most closed when the Communist Party took power in 1949.
Shanghai – Been There 

Parks for the people in Shanghai

Photo by Didier Forray

Shanghai – Been There  Parks for the people in Shanghai

“If you look at a map of Shanghai, it’s all parks,” says 80-year-old Song Jinshan, who arrived in Shanghai at the age of 14.

Gillian Bolsover
Gillian Bolsover Travel Writer & Photographer

Most of the parks in Shanghai today were created by the Maoist Government during the 1950s. Their communal concept is best demonstrated in the public exercise equipment found in almost all parks as well as other public areas such as apartment complex gardens. These brightly colored devices resemble a toned-down version of gym equipment (without any attached weights). For some, their use is obvious, like the elliptical machine, pull-up bars or seated chairs designed to stretch one’s back, but even the Chinese people I talk to are unsure as to the proper use of other pieces. Luckily, instructions are often available in Chinese and sometimes even in English.

This equipment is mostly intended for the elderly, but in reality people of all ages take a turn (I am particularly partial to the back scratchers). You see children swinging their legs far too fast on the “moon walkers” or young adults spinning around on the “hip twisters,” next to the elderly woman who earnestly pulls on hanging ropes to exercise her arms, counting repetitions under her breath.

“Normally it is older people who use this equipment since they have more time,” says Zhang Suchuan, 30, a native of neighboring Jiangsu Province. “Young people prefer to use gyms where there is air conditioning and showers. Young people have a different idea of consumerism than older people; they would prefer to pay for better services. I don’t normally come here. I was just walking by and stopped to use the elliptical and wiggle-waist-walking machine.”

“This is an act of charity by the government. Elderly people have contributed the most to the country, so the government builds parks for them to exercise, rest, talk and relax.”

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Morning exercises in a neighborhood park. Equipment that would normally be seen in a gym in the West is a common sight in Chinese parks as traditional medicine emphasises the importance of fresh air. Most use body weight for resistance exercises, meaning they are suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. Photo by Iñaki Lizarraga de Miguel / Alamy

Iñaki Lizarraga de Miguel

Iñaki Lizarraga de Miguel

Agency
Alamy

Morning exercises in a neighborhood park. Equipment that would normally be seen in a gym in the West is a common sight in Chinese parks as traditional medicine emphasises the importance of fresh air. Most use body weight for resistance exercises, meaning they are suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.

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