From the bottom, it looks like an easy walk, but midway along San Fernando’s famed One Hundred Steps, you will probably be gasping for air. Despite the arduous trek, most fitness enthusiasts and occasional joggers could tell of the benefits to their health and physique.
Some can even share stories of the romantic view from atop the staircase. On the northern side, the serenity of the Gulf of Paria awaits. At nightfall, you can gaze upon the splendour of the city’s lights in the South. While it is named One Hundred Steps, the dual staircase actually has 145 steps leading from Mount Moriah Road in Vistabella to North Road.
On any given afternoon, scores of women, men, children and the elderly fill the staircase for their daily workouts. In recent years, several fitness groups have found a challenging ground for their clients. Joel Pile, CEO of Precision Fitness, said that his company carries out a fitness programme targeting various landscapes throughout the country. In their four-month cycle, clients from around the country will visit the staircase at least four times.
Pile explained that a simple jog up and down the stairs brings benefits to a person’s quad, hamstrings, glutes and cardiovascular muscles while strengthening the lungs.
"It’s something to challenge you. The steps provide resistance and challenge your body, especially your legs. You will be using them much more than when you're just running on a flat surface. Anyone can use it, depending on his or her fitness level. They can run, walk, jog or sprint,” Pile said.
For decades, the staircase served as a shortcut for residents living in Springvale and those would have otherwise struggled to walk the steep Alexander Road nearby. By the early 2010s, oxidisation began eroding the rails, and soil movements caused the steps to crack. Responding to cries for its survival, then San Fernando mayor Kazim Hosein ordered its rehabilitation, installing new rails, staircase, lighting, and a sign. To Hosein, the venue is like a heritage site for the San Fernando burgesses.
“People use it for exercise, even attracting others from outside of San Fernando. Especially around Carnival time when people are looking to get into shape, you will find the steps packed. Some time ago, there was a group of tourists who came to see it as well, so following a lot of requests, we had to rehabilitate the steps,” Hosein said.
Since then, the area remains well maintained by the San Fernando City Corporation. It is expected to see its annual influx of users in the coming months as hundred seek to slim down and tone up in time for Carnival 2020.