Times are tough. Personal income is still clawing its way back to an upward trend, according to information released by the U.S. Commerce Department this month. Among the things that people can’t afford these days are gym memberships and comprehensive home exercise equipment. So a trend that’s reported on this month by The Municipal freelancer Carrie Schmitt has me kind of excited.
Since the late 1900s, Asia and some European countries have embraced the idea of installing exercise equipment that’s designed for adults, in outdoor parks. In the U.S. it’s still a new concept, though.
We’re all used to seeing playground standards like merry-go-rounds, slides and teeter totters for children to use, but parents were relegated to chasing fearless toddlers around the equipment to fulfill their need for cardiovascular activity and muscle development. Nonparents, for the most part, have zero options on the playground unless they wanted to tolerate curious stares and possibly defend themselves to law enforcement officials.
Outdoor exercise equipment installed in Ithaca, N.Y., this summer is painted dark green to look less juvenile and designed to provide strength training, coordination and space where a person can perform his or her own favorite exercises like pushups, crunches or Supermans. In Florida some communities are taking a multigenerational approach, installing new equipment designs that are intended for use by children and senior citizens alike.
Providing opportunities to take in vitamin D, get some fresh air and improve one’s physical condition on a person’s own schedule should be a key component of every community that wants to consider itself “livable.” I have more than a few acquaintances who think running fits that description, but not all of us have the knees — or have built up the stamina — to shoehorn ourselves into that narrow of a sport. So I’m looking forward to spinning seats, sit-up racks and adult-sized monkey bars coming to my city. If you’re interested in the idea too, contact the National Recreation and Parks Association at www.nrpa.org for the names of other cities who have installed them. My guess is that they’ll say it’s been very well received. The NRPA can also recommend manufacturers of adult or multigenerational playground equipment.