I really need more exciting hobbies.

It’s Spring, I tell myself. I look up to see a dense grey blanket spread overhead. The sun is tired, that’s all. It’s a mantra that gets harder to buy into as the days pass. I’ve found myself donning my puffy winter jacket for the past few days. The weather hath given and taken away and like Veruca Salt (on that note, I’ve always wanted to create a metal band called Varruk Assault) I’m getting petulant. I WANT AN OOMPA LOOMPA NOW, DADDY. I also want to get outside and shove air down my lungs. Perhaps in a more comfortable way than that sounds.

The biggest spur in my ass right now is the thrill of discovery. While grabbing a sub-par coffee from Field Trip Cafe I spied a shiny metallic glint across the road. A closer look found the Salem Parkette. I’m sure most of you are all “great, so there’s some grass and a bench and stuff. Knock yourself out…” You are right. It has both of those things. It also has a bunch of bark and an assortment of sturdy metal fitness equipment. Two sets of pull up bars, bars for horizontal push and pull, a long bench and a set of parallel bars. All within five minutes’ jog from my house. Back when I couldn’t afford a gym membership I would’ve done more for these than I would’ve for a Klondike bar. Don’t get me wrong, I love ice cream in a thin chocolate shell, but not as much as I love the capacity for free fitness in the neighbourhood.

Right now, this equipment isn’t at its peak usefulness. It’s hard to do safe pull/pull uppy things on slippery metal bars. Hell, I’ve wiped out on a set of wooden parallel bars with safety mats everywhere. That put my neck slightly out for several months. I can’t imagine wearing my puffy jacket is gonna be enough security to justify pushing myself to swing away.

“That’s great, Leon, have fun” I hear you think (oh, haven’t I mentioned my latent psychic powers before?). Have your fun and do workout-y things. Why do we care?

Firstly, I actually don’t know. I don’t even know why people read the shit I write here in the first place, let alone the many self-indulgent topics I pursue.

Secondly, this isn’t just about myself for once. Fitness has been a pretty helpful thing to have around me. It’s been difficult getting to where I am and I know that had to start somewhere. I don’t believe by any stretch of the imagination that an interest in fitness is a fundamental part of human existence. I do however think that it’s pretty damn important for us to upkeep our ability to move so that our muscles and joints can keep on keeping on. Finances can be such an unnecessary barrier to physical liveliness. People assume that they’re not gonna get anywhere if they don’t have a gym membership or a sports team to join. These things cost money. A lot of money in many cases. I’m well aware that money isn’t something everyone has in abundance. The other big cost when it comes to fitness is motivation, another resource that’s often in short supply. Having encouragement from a friend goes a long way towards mitigating this deficit and helping those close to you to get out and amongst it.

What this parkette allows me to do is to encourage friends to come with me and get active in a space that’s made for it. I want to put together regular outdoor fitness sessions with my mates. I want to encourage an environment where we’re celebrating everyone’s successes without basing our own standards on what others are capable of. I want to host dynamic workouts that are challenging for all levels, while remaining accessible. If I can get things like boxes for stepping up, resistance bands and skipping ropes, I’ll be able to put together routines based on bodyweight exercises with options for people of differing experience. I want my friends to be proud of their accomplishments and growth because I know how important it is to still be able to surprise yourself. I want to bring everyone up together and most of all to have fun with it. If they enjoy what they’re doing, maybe they’ll stick with it.

Plus I want everyone to hate burpees for a good reason. Isn’t that motivation enough?

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