(588 words)

On one of my recent constitutionals, I saw some children from a nearby daycare at a playground.  How wonderful and carefree they were.  The daily worries that burden the adult world were not affecting their young lives at all. At that moment, the only thing that mattered was being on the playground.  Oh, to be a child at the playground once more.

The other day, while on another of my walks around my Bronx housing complex, I noticed that another playground had been erected. This one, however, was just for the grown-ups. Dumbfounded could barely described me.  I stopped, stood there slack-jawed, and just looked at it, as if I were a kid seeking permission.

To be sure, it isn’t called a playground. I mean, that is not the word that the marketers use to lure adults.  “Life Trail” is its name.  But, come on, let’s all be honest here. It’s the Grown-ups’ Playground.  And curious adults are using it in the same way that the kids use theirs.

See, when the school day ends, kids often drop their book bags, and run to the playground. They play. Then they pick up their stuff and go home.  That’s exactly what the grown ups do.  They come from shopping, or dropping off youngsters at school, or the post office.  They see the Grown-ups’ Playground. They stop, drop their belongings, and try out some of the equipment. Then they pick up their stuff and continue on with their day.

playground pal on stationary bike

A playground pal

This playground has rules, just like the kiddies’ playground:
No pushing;
No shoving;
Wait your turn;
Don’t hog the equipment;
No cursing;
No eating;
No drinking;
No smoking;
No spitting.

Unlike the children’s playground, this one comes with instructions that explain how to use the equipment and which muscles groups are being exercised. Funny, when the kids use their playground they don’t need that. Besides, if instructions were there, some couldn’t and many wouldn’t take the time to read it. That is exactly what happens at the Grown-Ups’ Playground.

A playground visitor

Stopping by the playground

Anyway, some of these instructions are intimidating. I mean, who wants to be the first one on the Proprioceptive Neuromusclular Facilitation Exerciser? Not me. It was the last thing that I tried, and one of the few things I really needed.  It strengthens the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulders, and builds the gluteus medius, also known as “The Buns.”  (We don’t want that to sag. Now do we girls?)

Now I have developed a small routine.  It includes the upper-body cycle that strengthens the back, torso, tightens up those sagging upper arms and gets rid of a rather painful kink in my shoulder.  It works.  I try that facilitation thing and the recumbent bicycle.

Of all the equipment there, my favorite is the recumbent bike. After I get into a good cycling rhythm, I close my eyes, and pretend that I am on the open road. Free from the fear of striking anything, I lift my head toward the sky, and extend my arms, palms up. The early morning sun bathes my face; the wind gently brushes against me. Sometimes, in the early morning, the mist cools my skin. My spirit becomes calm. In those brief minutes, my joblessness, anxieties about the working world, and thoughts about how I am going to survive, dissolve. In those moments, I become a kid again. I become just another kid playing on the Grown-ups’ Playground.