Ten squats for a ride. That’s the Mexico City government’s latest offer to its residents: A free subway or Metrobus ticket in exchange of a little bit of exercise. The goal is to promote a healthier lifestyle and fight obesity, in a country where 70% of adults are overweight.
Translation: “10 squads in exchange for a free ride in the City of Mexico”
Thirty so-called “health stations” were installed in January in Metrobus and subways stations in central areas of the capital. They will rotate between different transit hubs within the system.
The stations count the squats using a motion sensor, while doling out advice about creating a healthier lifestyle, for instance, by drinking water instead of soda. A similar device at the Sochi Winter Olympics also offered free rides in exchange for exercise—though it required 30 squats to meet the mark.
When someone performs ten consecutive squats, the machine releases a ticket, which can be exchanged for a free subway or Metrobus ticket, an anti-stress ball, or a pedometer. These two last incentives are handed out by government workers manning the site.
The initiative has endured some growing pains since its launch. Users have complained about the English-only instructions (link in Spanish) on the free pedometers, and an extended delay in printing out free promised tickets.
On July 15, secretary of health Armando Ahued announced that the government will issue at least 50,000 free tickets, and that private institutions will fund 25,000 rechargeable cards good for one ride. It is unclear if, once the allotted tickets are handed out, the government will be able to maintain the program.
The health stations are part of a broader campaign that includes installing 600 free outdoor gyms throughout the city.