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'Adult Playground' Makes Chicago Debut In Burnham Park

By Alex Nitkin | September 2, 2016 6:17am | Updated on September 2, 2016 8:26am
 The Burnham Park Outdoor Fitness Station was inspired by Muscle Beach gym in California.
'Adult Playground' Makes Chicago Debut In Burnham Park
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BRONZEVILLE — Children's monopoly on outdoor playgrounds is over.

The Chicago Park District made it official Thursday with the opening of the Burnham Park Outdoor Fitness Station, a small jungle gym aimed at exercise buffs on the Near South Side.

Standing inches from the Lakefront Trail at 39th Street, the structure looks like an austere, scaled-back version of an elementary school play lot. Instead of a see-saw, it has incline benches. In place of a slide, there's a rope climb.

"The idea is that a cyclist or a jogger can come along the trail, bang out 20 reps and then keep going," Chicago Park District General Supt. Michael Kelly said. "It's another destination on the lake front, another reason to get people to come across Lake Shore Drive."

Kelly said the project was inspired by the iconic Muscle Beach gym on Venice Beach in Los Angeles and fueled by the exploding popularity of high-intensity strength training programs like CrossFit.

Designed by Park District planners, the playground modified for adult fitness is the first of its kind anywhere in the country, Kelly added.

"It's just so cool," Kelly said, looking at the structure. "Anytime you get to build the first of anything, it's really exciting."

The project was funded through a $70,000 donation from Coca-Cola, and a Coke logo adorns the playground's signpost as a reminder.

As part of a multimillion dollar partnership with the Park District launched in 2012, the beverage company earmarked $325 million in capital spending for projects all over the city.

Most recently, Coca-Cola helped pay for a renovation of the field house at Carver Park, 939 E. 132nd St., in Altgeld Gardens on the Southeast Side.

And fitness fanatics can expect to see more "adult playgrounds" like the Burnham Park Outdoor Fitness Station pop up in different parts of the city, according to Mike Carroll, an account executive for Coca-Cola.

The fitness station was the latest rollout of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's "Chicago Plays" initiative, which has seen the construction or renovation of more than 325 playgrounds around the city since 2011.

Most recently, on Aug. 11, a playground inspired by the Grateful Dead was unveiled in Douglas Park on the city's West Side.

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