The word ‘adult’ normally means one thing. Here it just refers to age...

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If there is a phrase more likely to spark images which bring a cheeky smirk to your lips than ‘adult playground’ I’d like to hear it.

It should, by all rights, be the sort of place where any journalist investigation would conclude with the phrase “I made my excuses and left” and a Google search bring up a wide range of ‘niche’ sites providing details on how to find them.

Yet instead of being a child-free place where you check guilt, responsibility and sensible underwear, it would appear that the adult playground is a far more mundane affair.

It is, in short, an outdoor gym.

Where children have swings and slides and roundabouts, the adult version has bike machine, treadmills and weights. But sturdy ones which can withstand the elements.

Suddenly the phrase ‘playground’ becomes something you could potentially put to the Advertising Standards Authority.

We don’t describe a gym as an “indoor playground” – not even those who use their monthly subscription more than once in a calendar year. The gym can be a place of satisfaction and achievement, but it is also the place of hard work, sweat, pulled muscles and poor personal hygiene.

In fact, the only things like to see an ‘adult playground’ resemble what many thought it meant when they first heard the phrase, will be the presence of lots of overweight 40-something blokes sweating profusely.

Yet it would appear the outdoor gym/adult playground is fast taking a hold on society.

They are springing up all over the place – including some in Kent – and would appear to be about to enjoy something of a boom, as cash-strapped parents ditch the gym membership and instead take the kids to the park for them to slip down the slide countless times while they run up a few miles on the exercise machinery.

Of course, the craze will last about as long as it takes for local teenage kids to realise they have somewhere else new to hang around.

Give it a few months and amid the tree bark flooring will be the broken glass, fag butts, used condoms and syringes which litter most other parks.

Better that finds itself in the adult playground, however, than the children’s one I suppose.


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