Playgrounds - they’re not just child’s play anymore. The trend of adult fitness playgrounds is stretching across the country, and now, two local women are focusing that trend on moms already spending time at toddler playgrounds. Imagine being able to exercise at workout machines that surround and face the structure where your kids are playing!
That’s just what’s going on at two new parks in Western Washington. On Saturday, my family attended the grand opening of momentum Redmond at Marymoor Park (the other one is at Les Gove Park in Auburn).
Founded by Seattle moms Paige Green Dunn and Kelly Singer, momentum is a fitness group that develops local, eco-friendly outdoor fitness parks that allow you the opportunity to tone up problem areas while keeping the kids under your watchful eye. Its slogan is “healthy moms raise healthy families.”
The five free-standing, permanent machines at Marymoor Park are green and fully powered by the user alone, no electricity required. They look a lot like what you’d see if a traditional gym but these are conveniently situated facing the toddler park near Lot K at the park. (Momentum, which is on its way to becoming a nonprofit, helped pay for the playground equipment.)
Saturday’s grand opening festivities at Marymoor included fitness experts who demonstrated how each of the exercises worked to focus on abs, arms, hips, and thighs. While this new equipment might not turn you into Dara Torres or Lolo Jones, it’s a good start for someone who’s feeling discouraged about core strength and tummy flab. The incline bench for sit-ups elevates your knees to alleviate back stress. Next door is a pair of push-up bars, one higher, one lower. The higher bar can also be adapted for pull-ups. Both exercises are great for toning your arms, back, and chest. There’s a Captain’s Chair which is hard-core ab work and if you turn around, you can also use it as a set of dip-bars for toning your arms and chest.
While the concept of the fitness playground is genius, I had some issues with the equipment. The three Fast Runner machines, elliptical-type trainers, offer essentially no resistance and there’s no adjustment. So to get your sweat on, you’d have to whip your legs back and forth at bionic woman-esque speed.
Another drawback is the chin-up bar. Standing at an average 5’4” or so, I had to be on tiptoe to reach it. My slightly shorter mother-in-law didn’t have a chance. Even if you can grab the bar, most women will have problems doing full-extension chin-ups. Also, the orientation of the chin-up bar and its shared hip-rotation exercise (which also has very little resistance) needs to be turned 45 degrees so your back isn’t toward the playground for the hip twist. If the machine were sideways, you’d be able to watch the kids during both exercises.
I applaud momentum for its mission and how the community appears to have embraced it. The grand opening events were fun and informative, the sun was out and lots of people milled about testing the equipment out while kids zipped around the playground or grabbed healthy snacks and a bottle of water. I even saw several husbands check out the equipment.
With some improvements, I suspect this is the beginning of great things for momentum and the beginning of great bodies for moms who use the parks.
Allison McDowell Enstrom is a freelance writer and full-time mom to two children. Before kids, she worked as a news producer and executive news producer at NorthWest Cable News, KING 5 News, and stations in Portland and the Tri-Cities.