Is it just me? Or have fitness freaks killed park life? asks MELANIE McDONAGH
- Melanie McDonagh who lives in London, says parks have become outdoor gyms
- She argues it’s bad manners to appropriate a park that belongs to everyone
- She says if you want to do exercises, it should be done at home
You’ve probably seen them. Young women under the trees doing bench presses. A trio of friends, socially distanced, doing the manoeuvre known as the plank.
A trainer watching his client — usually a beefy man with a much younger woman — doing squats, with dumb-bells. And all in communal public spaces.
One of the unexpected effects of the Government exhorting us to take exercise during lockdown has been that public parks have become outdoor gyms.
As beautiful green spaces, parks have saved many a citizen’s sanity during lockdown, especially those without a garden.
Melanie McDonagh argues that it’s bad manners to use a park for a private gym session, and says that people should exercise at home (file image)
At my local park in London, there’s space provided for exercise. The outdoor gym is cordoned off, but there’s still a sports field big enough for any number of people. But only a few use it.
Most make for the open spaces where children might play or normal people might read a book under a tree, and they turn it into their own gym area.
During lockdown, we’ve lost a sense of what’s correct behaviour in a shared space
You have to skirt round them as they do skipping, lunges or leg stretches. Then there are the joggers with their weird sense of entitlement to any path.
There’s something disquieting about watching people doing exercise they’d normally do in gyms — now closed — under your nose.
You feel like a voyeur as you pass them in their skin-tight leggings, with their equipment and mats, intent on doing their training as if no-one else were present.
What we’ve lost in lockdown is a sense of what’s correct behaviour in a shared space. It’s bad manners to appropriate a park that belongs to everyone and take it over for a private gym session.
If you want to do exercises, do them at home. Public spaces are just that — they belong to everyone.