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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

BEIJING: more public exercise equipment


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Spacing Montreal contributor Cedric Sam recently made an excellent post about other examples of public exercise equipment in Beijing.  Originally posted July 10, 2008.

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Megan Hall, Spacing Toronto’s correspondent in Beijing this summer, wrote a very interesting post on public exercise equipment in Beijing’s parks and playgrounds. Back in April, I stayed in Beijing for two weeks, and also had the opportunity to discover how Beijingers invested the public spaces to keep in shape. Megan’s post inspired me to do a quick search of my own through my photo collection.

Kicking shuttlecocks outdoor in Beijing

For instance, one common activity (seen in the previous picture), often played just at a street corner or a public square with a large-enough flat surface, would be the kicking of shuttlecocks (just like how people play footbag here). It looked like the people that I encountered playing on most instances were office or shop workers taking a break.

Outdoor ping-pong

Since ping-pong is such a popular sport in China, maybe it is not surprising to find tables to play the game outside, as seen on this picture, taken at a public square near a residential complex.


In this other park, just a few hundred meters from the main Olympic site, senior citizens were playing croquet amongst themselves. By the look of it, this playground may have been built or revamped recently.



  1. It reminds me of those Participaction public exercise things set up around Canada in the 1970s. You can still find bits of them around. Good logo’s/graphic design too, if I recall.

  2. Yes Yes Yes I think that China has the answers to how we could improve our streets.Why just today they were clearing out the beggars and street people to show the world just how clean Bejing really is.Will be getting that report soon?Megan????

    In any case the political situation in China is different than in Toronto,so how could this city council be able to duplicate what has been done there?

  3. Ah, the narrowmindedness of Sawision continues.

    These are examples of good things — not every aspect of China is horrific and showing some examples is not tantramount to endorsing their poor human rights record. But George has never been one to understand nuance.

  4. Because showing examples of public exercise equipment is linked closely to the clearing of street people….?

    (/troll feeding)

  5. Yes Me or is it you?I am very naive.The communists of this world do have much to teach us, I am just asking how much are these “good things” going to cost us?Or do you even care?

  6. For crissakes, George. These are just examples of good uses of parks and public space. Not every post has to explain how Toronto could pay for these. But since you asked, the city and the TDSB purchase equipment all the time, so maybe instead of it always being kids equipment it could be more multi-purpose.

    But you’ve proven my point of narrowmindedness. Seeing this only as a “cost” instead of the long-term benefit of having healthy citizens doesn’t seem to register with you (which proves my second point about you not understanding nuance).

    If I’m not careful, knowing your commenting record, you’ll probably start to blame China’s problems on our NDP controlled city council and Joe Pantelone.

  7. Mark, I’ve asked myself the same thing on many occasions. Lately, there are days where the pollution comes and goes and we get days that are perfectly clear and others where you can’t see down the block. Still, I’ve heard that the pollution has improved significantly in the last few years. The pollution does not seem to stop people from using the streets for badminton and chess… and of course, from using the public exercise equipment.
    Cedric, I was happy to see that the second picture that you posted is literally right down the street from me!

  8. Megan: Oh cool! It’s the picture of the two ladies kicking shuttlecocks? So, it would mean that you are staying between the Forbidden Palace and Wangfujing? That’s a pretty central location; pretty enjoyable, with old trees arching above the avenues too.

    Mark: indeed, the pollution is often as bad as it looks like. Beijingers particularly like rainy days, because it means about 3-4 following days of clear, fresh weather.

  9. When I was a student at good old Blythwood Elementary in T.O. we would kick a tennis ball between two benches (which were the nets). We called it ball hockey, though to any observer not from Canada it would have looked a lot like we were playing soccer.

    Every culture has its own take on the old kicking-an-object game. It’s hilarious to see that in Beijing it is interpreted from/as badminton.

    Keep up the great posts. I would be very interested to see some interpretation of the Beijing subway, which is expanding at a rate to make TTC users swoon yet I understand cannot keep up with the even faster growth in auto use.