This is my Istanbul

The things that shape how I experience the city

This is my Istanbul: Exercise Parks March 24, 2010

Filed under: Things — Rebecca @ 12:30 am
Tags: ,

Turks, on the whole, are not exactly the most gung-ho about physical fitness. While Switzerland is dotted with wanderwegs and the Brits seem to love a good country walk, the exercise thing is still somewhat novel, football match-ups aside. I started the Istanbul Marathon this year (as I am also not as gung-ho as I should be about fitness, I just ran across the Bosporus Bridge, not 42km), and by and large folks didn’t really stretch or anything beforehand. A friend who ran the Nike Human Race last year reported people actually smoking as they jogged.
To remedy this, in the past few years the country has installed hundreds, probably thousands of exercise parks, in most cities. These exercise parks are pretty neat – they have a variety of equipment, and involve cardio and strength training. Since they were all installed in the past few years they’re generally in good repair. They range in size from two or four machines to over a dozen, and usually are attached to a park. The ones in my area are on the Marmara, for a particularly scenic workout.
It’s hard to use the exercise parks near me at times, because they’ve become a sort of teenage guy hangout, but when they’re not it’s usually me and a headscarved/full skirted woman or two. I think it’s different in other neighborhoods but around my neck of the woods I’m usually the only one in exercise togs. I enjoy that, it keeps working out pretty low key.
The exercise parks definitely help make up for a dearth of gyms and fitness centers in the city. While Istanbul does have an increasing number of gyms, their price range is better suited for those on expat salaries. Also, there are none in wider Fatih. None. That probably speaks better than anything as to the class divisions in who uses gyms and fitness centers (there are a few amateur sports clubs in Fatih, mainly for children’s football initiatives). Exercise parks, though, are in every neighborhood. They’re in the middle of Fatih. They’re along the Bosporus in Kurucesme. They’re up north in Emirgan, where football teams go to work out on weekends. I really like the universality of them, as they’re literally everywhere and open to literally everyone. I’ve seen people from all walks of life working away on the exercise equipment.
In the end, the exercise parks aren’t really a must-see, or a tourist attraction. But they are definitely a facet of my Istanbul.


3 Responses to “This is my Istanbul: Exercise Parks”

  1. lovemuse Says:

    this is really interesting. been looking for a way to keep in shape while i spend a couple of weeks in istanbul.

  2. Thank you, very nice..

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