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Manteca installs workout stations
The exercise stations just before they were deemed ready for public use. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Delia Martinez and her husband couldn’t afford two gym memberships with their income, so they came up with a solution.

Her husband would continue with 24 Hour Fitness, where he’d have access to a pool, indoor basketball court, weights and cardio machines.

Meanwhile, Martinez would work up a sweat in the neighborhood, walking the family dog through the streets and around the parks of the Woodward developments.

It wasn’t ideal, but there simply wasn’t enough money in the budget for her gym pass.

“I couldn’t afford it,” she said.

About four weeks ago, the City of Manteca stepped in, leveling the playing field in the Martinez household with a $75,000 investment in the public’s health and fitness.

In February, the Parks and Recreation Department oversaw the installation of four workout stations along the perimeter of Woodward Park, a popular morning and evening destination for walkers and joggers alike.

Martinez rejoiced.

“When I found this, it was like ‘Oh, yeah!’ ” she said, a smile stretching across her face. “It’s awesome; so good for people who can’t afford the gym.”

The stations are located along the residential side of the park along Buena Vista Drive, Heartland Drive and Bridewell Avenue. The city unveiled the equipment in late February, tearing off the caution tape that circled the stations while the last of the cement dried.

For many residents of the Woodward community, the park has replaced the need to take up membership at a traditional gym. It’s also spiced up their cardio, breaking up the laps with strength-training exercises. 

Antonio Leonardo is fit and strong for a 65-year-old man – a credit, he says, to the park he can see from his front lawn. On most days, he can be found trotting along the path before sunrise.

On Thursday, he joined his wife, Niveria Leonardo, for a late morning stroll. The two shuffled through the machines near the corner Buena Vista and Woodward, before disappearing into the shadows along Woodward.

“I use them on a daily basis,” Antonio Leonardo said after climbing off the cross-country ski machine. “I was so glad when they put these in. Now I have a gym by my front door.”

A gym with options. 

Each station targets a different part of the body, ranging from legs and arms to chest and core.

Niveria Leonardo willed her way through a set on the rowing machine. She says that machine, above all others, is the most taxing on her body. “I’ve got bad bones and muscles,” she said, “but this is nice for us.”

Basma Abuelhaj, a 14-year resident of Manteca, adjusted her earbuds as she climbed on the Pendulum near the playground on Heartland. 

The machine swings back and forth, as its name suggests, targeting the abdominal area.

“I love this. I didn’t have to renew my gym membership,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful that the city would put these in. I always say it: I love Manteca.”

Marcel Lucero and his wife pushed their young child in a stroller Thursday morning, stopping at each station. Before cranking out sets on the chest press and butterfly machines, Lucero commended the city for staying true to its nickname, Family City.

Woodward Park was already home to several lighted soccer fields, basketball courts and two playgrounds. Now it’s issued residents a $75,000 gym membership. 

Call it the “Family” plan.

“(The stations) make it a family environment. It encourages kids and families to get out here as a unit,” Lucero said. “It’s a positive thing, and it’s 24 hours. It’s definitely convenient.”

The City has a ringing endorsement from Martinez, who marveled at the machines’ simplicity, handicap accessibility and built-in technology.

Before she used the lat pulldown machine on Thursday, Martinez first watched a demonstration on her smartphone.

 In keeping with the times, Greenfields Outdoor Fitness, the equipment’s manufacturer, has equipped each machine and apparatus with a bar code that once scanned with a smartphone or device calls up a video on YouTube.

“Isn’t this cool?” she said in amazement. “It shows you how it all works. I love this,” Martinez said. “It’s the best thing the city has ever done.”