The following article For The Hard Core: The Gonzo Grown-Up Playground Workout In 10 Moves was shared with me on facebook by a friend, knowing my enthusiasm for using the outdoor world to inspire me to engage in physical activity. I started reading the article to see how many of the exercises I already do, and would have let it end their with mild interest until I started reading the comments.
The dissenting opinions for doing this type of outdoor activities using the already available public areas included:
Public spaces do be long to the public, but the picnic tables are put there so people can picnic, the benches are put there so people can sit. Exercising on them puts wear on them and doesn’t let them last as long. There are plenty other ways to exercise outside without using these items in ways that could damage them.
1) benches are made for sitting. 2) picnic tables are made for eating. It’s one thing to exercise it’s another thing to be disrespectful of items that don’t belong to you. You jumping on either of these could break them.
I personally live in Japan. My city has a dedicated area at our parks to do basic workouts, our benches are also cement, and can’t remember if picnic tables are provided or not. I do know that here in Japan if you were doing things this person is suggesting you would get stared and frowned at, so this would never happen here. Here my opinion about not using these items for exercise is the majority opinion. You will find no Japanese doing this.
If they don’t belong to me then they don’t belong to the person who is using them improperly and they shouldn’t be abusing them if they don’t own them. When you’re jumping on the tables destroys them to the point of no use and they aren’t replace you know who’s to blame. They are put there with a purpose, that purpose is not being an ignorant selfish fool who can’t afford a $20 gym membership at planet fitness.
Thanks for making picnic food taste and smell like sweaty ass.
These comments were met, as you might expect, with a significant amount of resistance, confusion, and disdain. I would have written it off as the tirades of a troll but then I read this post from a self proclaimed authority:
As a former playground safety inspector I agree with James. The equipment is designed for children and structured for the average weights and heights of children. Additionally, wood picnic tables are subject to the influence of weather, so jumping on to wood tables designed primarily for eating is never a good idea. Wood weakens via the influence of moisture (e.g., rain, snow, dew). There are some benefits for working out in a park, but a 200 lb. man hanging off of children’s monkey bars over the long term doesn’t strike me as a good idea. Sheesh, just join a gym!
That said, I see their point….to a point. And my response is as follows:
Wow! My response is pretty simple, when we get to the point that Americans are filling the parks “misusing” the benches and tables by exercising with them, we will have saved $millions in publicly subsidized healthcare costs and rather than reprimanding or penalizing those from doing so, we should celebrate the reversal of a national crisis. I’m sure a few of those dollars saved can be used for the upkeep of those facilities. And I agree that people should use judgment, avoid jumping on things where people might eat, and don’t jump on anything with dog feces on your shoes, but everything else is fair game. I LOVE those doing Parkour and those who use outdoor facilities for their own health and also as a way to encourage others to embrace a healthy and active lifestyle. I lived in Japan as a child and I understand how people ,might look down on these folks, but that’s the great thing about America. People look down on most anything new, until someone does it the first time, and then someone joins in, and then another and then another, etc. Eventually even Japanese join in. It just takes awhile longer. If nobody took the first step to break a rule, then there would be no innovation.