Cities across the United States are building ‘adult playgrounds’ in an effort to promote fitness and curb obesity. Utilizing the same type of durable materials used for children’s playgrounds, these sites are customized with grown-up friendly fitness equipment that anyone can use. Already a well-established concept in China and parts of Europe, adult playgrounds are designed with equipment that targets specific muscle groups that makes fitness more accessible—and enjoyable—to the general public.
Among U.S. cities starting adult playground initiatives, Los Angeles is leading the move, specifically targeting those who either can’t afford the gym—or those who need something innovative (and local) to keep fitness top-of-mind. With city officials updating many urban parks in this manner, already there are more than 40 ‘adult playgrounds’ in L.A. The largest of these is the 70-acre Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks facility, which features a swimming pool, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and 14 pieces of cardio and weight-training equipment. New York is following suit, with an exciting adult playground in Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx, at the foot of Yankee Stadium between existing track, handball and basketball courts—and more planned in other locations throughout the 5 boroughs.
Plans to bring adult fitness zones with advanced strength-training equipment to Florida’s Miami-Dade County, and to at least 30 parks in San Antonio, TX, and all over Colorado are also in the works.
So, what does the public think of these initiatives, many of which are funded with taxpayer dollars? According to city managers, as reported by Rick Orlov in the Los Angeles Daily News, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Users like the fact that these ‘playgrounds’ are free and focused for endurance, fitness and weight-loss. To quote Katherine Parker, who attended a ribbon-cutting at the adult playground in Sherman Oaks Park (CA): “I love to work out…This way, I’ll be able to get the same kind of exercise, and it will be outside.” Says Brian Ferreria, a regular trainer at the Bronx facility in New York: “I use every piece of equipment. It’s good endurance training.”