October 13, 2008

Ares's Eco-Gym: A Lesson in Making the World a Better Place

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In the midst of the distressing news this past week, Good Magazine recently published an inspiring video article about someone who has made the world a better place.

The story concerns Manuel de Arriba Ares, a retired gym teacher in the village of Valdespino de Somoza in the city of Leon, Spain. Ares has built an “ecological gym” for the village–an outdoor gym that uses no electricity and that is made entirely from recycled materials!

This gym, or “gimnasio ecológico lumen” as Ares calls it, is nothing short of impressive. It is free. It has the variety of equipment you would expect to find at a regular gym. And it is made from “trash”, mostly tree trunks and pieces of lumber discarded from village orchards.

Ares says it took over four years to design the gym. He made it because he noticed that towns such as his were growing smaller in population and wanted to do something that would put his town on the map. His gym does just that. “By getting to know the gym, you are getting to know the town,” he says.

There are practical concerns, of course. How will the gym be protected in the event of rain or fire? Is it easy to repair the machines if someone breaks them? And is there an area where people can wash off the sweat after working outside? I do not know. I was unable to find such answers, but comments are welcome.

What is clear is that Ares is as special as the gym he created. Here is a person who saw a need, used his creativity to come up with a fantastic solution and worked for years to complete it. In an age where more people complain about problems instead of pausing to fix them, it makes Ares a truly remarkable human being.