Irate moms hit out at fitness fanatics working out in their kids’ playgrounds
It’s the battle of the monkey bars.
Fed up moms in New York City have had enough of fitness freaks using kids’ playgrounds as makeshift gyms now that workout facilities are operating at limited capacity due to COVID-19.
They’ve labeled the sweaty musclemen — and women — “gross” and “selfish” for increasingly monopolizing equipment designed for toddlers.
According to parents, some don’t wear masks and could pose a health hazard during the pandemic.
“It’s unfair on the children,” said mom of one Ashley Ann Capone, of Astoria Heights, Queens, who regularly visits her neighborhood playground, Sean’s Place, on 38th Street. “They can feel intimidated by them and can’t play properly because of their presence.”
While it’s mostly individuals exercising on their own, a growing number of personal trainers are bringing their clients within the playgrounds.
“My friend recently spotted a trainer with half-a-dozen clients in tow,” added Capone, 35. “They took up half of the available space with little regard for anyone else.
“They use the monkey bars a lot, which poses the danger for little kiddos being kicked in the face.”
The makeup artist and beauty activist is particularly concerned because her 2-year-old daughter, Bridget, is autistic. She loves using playgrounds like Sean’s Place for sensory input and socializing with other tots.
“Being outside in a safe environment is important for all children, but especially those with special needs,” said Capone.
Michelle Slonim Rosenfeld, 39, another Astoria mom, cited rules imposed by New York City Parks that only permit adults in playgrounds who are accompanied by a child under the age of 12.
“Perhaps they should start putting up signs,” suggested the author and comedienne, drolly adding: “Playgrounds are already filled with tears and dirty diapers. We don’t need to add sweaty armpits.”
The ick factor was also addressed by mom of two Annie, who asked for her last name to be withheld for professional reasons. She described buffed-up men running shirtless through the sprinklers at Hoyt Playground to cool off between workouts.
“It was gross,” she said. “There are plenty of other places to exercise so I can’t understand it.
The issue was acknowledged by Anessa Hodgson, press officer for NYC Parks, who said city playgrounds and parks “have seen an increase in traffic for exercise” given the closures of indoor gyms over the past seven months.
“For many New Yorkers during the public health crisis, they have become their gym, their yoga studio and a space for active and passive recreation,” she added. “While it may appear that more adults are using our playgrounds for exercise, this has long been a trend and we ask that they are courteous and considerate to others.”
Her words are little comfort to Heather Timiraos, 43, who moved to Queens from Bushwick with her 18-month-old son, Zander, and husband, Steve, less than a month ago. The medical administrator, expecting her second child next year, said the problem was worse in small parks such as Green Central Knoll in Brooklyn.
“These guys set up their equipment [such as weights and resistance training straps] right near the entrance to the playground,” recalled the medical administrator. “I wanted to say: ‘Why aren’t you doing this at home instead of a place meant for children?’ I didn’t dare because you don’t know how they might react.”
As for the “offenders,” they defended themselves to The Post, insisting they are doing no harm.
“This is a public space meant for everyone in the community,” said an anonymous man who was climbing on a structure at Hoyt Playground as a toddler happily skipped by. “It’s part of city life to see a mix of people sharing the same area.”
Meanwhile personal trainer Kevin Bellegarde and his client Vanessa Ellers, exercising at Sean’s Place, claimed they always keep a respectful distance from children playing there.
“If you know how to work out properly you can keep yourself to yourself,” said Bellegarde, 35, of Long Island City. “At a time when gyms are closed or there’s limited space, people need to lighten up.”