Tag Archives: using the playground as a gym

Challenging myself at the playground

In the post about my Kinda, sorta resolutions for 2019 I said I’d like to challenge myself intellectually and physically. I’m off to a good start on both endeavors and wanted to tell you just a bit about pushing myself physically. As I said previously I think many people increasingly limit themselves as they age in no small part because they’re afraid of getting hurt, leading to a long recovery time, if they ever fully recover at all. It’s a fine line to walk; challenging yourself beyond your comfort vs over-doing it and being very sorry.

For a long time there were a couple things I’d do at playgrounds when I’d be going by but due to either injuries or having taxed myself elsewhere, I hadn’t done any of them in years. With the passing of time, I wasn’t even sure if I could do them any more.

There’s a skinny pole leading to a platform at one playground and, if no one else was there, I used to climb the pole occasionally and step over to the platform. I can’t tell you I liked it but I did think it was good for me. It was kind of a point of pride that I could do it. (I’d never once seen anyone else climb it, not even kids, although that doesn’t mean no one did.)

The first time I (re)attempted the climb in January, I found, to my surprise, I went up fairly easily. The next time I went back, for whatever reason, it seemed harder. When I went last weekend I took along a tape measure so I could tell you how high the platform is (I could only guess). It’s 6.5 feet, so not all that high. I again climbed up the pole but I can’t tell you it’s easy for me; I have to psyche myself up a little: “C’mon, you can do this.”
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At other playgrounds I had a few things I did on the bars that were fun for me. In January I went to one of these playgrounds and was again happy to find that I could still do them. On this day, after climbing the pole (and getting the photo) I went to another playground that has old-fashioned equipment and a couple sets of bars both of which I like.
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The thing I always loved doing on a playground with similar bars was, on a low one, grabbing it with both hands and jumping up to where my mid-section hit the bar, and then, leaning forward, flipping my feet over my head, landing on my feet facing on forward on the other side of the bar, letting go of the bar as I did so.
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Let me demonstrate with the help of my able assistant, Gumby.
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Another woman blogger recently wrote about attempting a chin-up or pull-up. Her post made me wonder if I could do that. It wasn’t ever a feat I was in the habit of doing – had I done one ever? – so I had no idea if I was capable. I tried one on the highest bar of the trio above and no way, no how was it happening.😐 I tried once with my hands over the bar and once with them under and it made no difference. I was able to raise myself a little but nowhere near accomplishing a chin-up. I was disappointed; on the other hand, it’s not like a skill I knew I had and lost. I’m not sure what it would take to accomplish this but I tend to think it would be by first getting stronger doing other upper body exercise. That is, I don’t think merely trying repeatedly to do a chin-up would be enough.

I went to another low bar (one I think is just a tad lower) for this other trick, namely hanging by my knees only. I grabbed hold of the bar and kind of walked up the side pole in order to get my legs over the bar. What I particularly like to do is choose a bar at a height where I can hang by my knees and place my hands on the ground so that I can, with the help of gravity, swing my legs off the bar over my head ultimately landing on my feet, or more accurately, on my feet and hands before standing up straight. I have to say there’s a moment of fear when I let go of the bar, even knowing the ground is close.
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Let’s bring Gumby back for a demo.
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While I was there and had the place to myself, I tried one last thing on the monkey bars (do they still call them that?) The idea is to grab them with your hands and swing across, hand over hand. Well, on this set of 8 bars, I was able to go across but I didn’t swing madly and instead took them one by one. I think it’d be easier to swing hand over hand if the bars were higher off the ground and I had the space to get a “jump” start – that’s kind of how I remember doing it when I was a kid.
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