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Endless Recess

Playgrounds for Adults

Bobby Altman

Skip the pricey gym memberships, and reclaim the playground for working out.

It may seem like kids get to have all the fun — at least when it comes to outdoor exercise. But more and more towns, senior centers and retirement communities are filling their green spaces with playground-style equipment aimed at grownups. While the installations may resemble monkey bars, they are designed for specific workouts.

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“Low-impact, fun activities are what draw people in. Then they try the more challenging exercises,” says Sam Mendelsohn, president and CEO of the California-based Greenfields Outdoor Fitness.

One community in Charlotte, N.C., is opening its second “intergenerational play space,” as the project lead calls it. Tracy McGinnis, director of philanthropy at the Southminster life-plan community, says the first play space — which was created with the county parks department — has drawn many people who are attracted “not just to the physical play but to the social play, as well. 

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old,” she says, quoting George Bernard Shaw. “ We grow old because we stop playing.”

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