9 ways to build a playground for grown-ups

From The Idea Factory, our special report on innovation


The playground was the last place many of us really enjoyed exercise. Similarly, unless you matured into an adrenaline addict, the playground was the last time you felt like you were flying, escaping a river of crocodiles hand over hand, or locked in mortal combat (with a see-saw partner).

But what if you could bring back the fun of the playground with equipment suitable to adult sizes and thrill threshholds? Some of these innovative products might help you accomplish just that.

1. Slacklines

(Getty Images)

Not a tightrope, not a trampoline, but a challenging combination of both. The goal, once you've mastered the balance it takes to cross the line (which can be set as high or low off the ground as you desire), is to incorporate any number of fancy moves and tricks of balance into your crossing. Watch out for the 1000-foot drop into a black chasm of darkness below.

2. Big Wheel Drift Trikes

If you were one of the lucky kids who had your own Big Wheel, you'll carry a sparkle in your eye for the rest of your life. Make that sparkle even brighter with the addition of hydraulic brakes and a 6.5-horsepower engine with the SFD Industries Drift Trike. Guaranteed to outrun ninjas, zombies, and Storm troopers.

3. Trapeze rack

GameTime makes this 12-foot-long ring run — which is 7 feet off the ground — specifically for adults. Apparently it builds upper body strength, coordination, and core fitness. All of which is very important when swinging across a river full of snapping piranhas.

4. PowerBounce trampoline

A grown-up requires a higher level of quality in their backyard trampoline, which PowerBounce understands. First of all, a "real world" weigh limit of 800 pounds. Next, 108 10-inch, zinc-plated, high-performance springs. Plus 100 square feet of (rectangular) mat space. The mat itself is shielded against UV deterioration and carries 10 rows of stitching instead of the 4 rows most children's trampolines have. Also good for simulating the peculiar gravities of distant planets.

5. Bimbo basket swing

The spider leg frame stands over 11 feet high and supports a "bird's nest" basket swing in its center. Besides reaching terrifying heights with the right size people pumping, the basket is nearly four feet wide and can swing 360 degrees. It can hold multiple children and multiple adults. So your rocket ship will be able to save many lives as it dodges asteroids flung from your crumbling home world.

6. Super Mega Swing

Of course, sometimes there is no substitution for the purest of playground joys, the swing. Many an adult has scrunched their bottom into a swing next to a child, glancing nervously at the chain's integrity. The Super Mega Swing dispenses with all those fretful adult worries, and puts you back in the pilot's seat. The suspension bar is nearly 14 feet above ground and made from "ultra heavy duty" steel. Some people say it's impossible to swing high enough to go all the way around. Looks like it's up to you to find out.

7. Human bowling ball

Sometimes being a grown-up means we get to break some basic playground rules, such as, don't pretend you're a human bowling bowl. This inflatable game insists you become just that. Once placed inside a 7-foot hamster ball, all you have to do is charge down the line toward 5-foot high pins at the end. Bowling has never been such a healthy pastime.

8. Scorpion stand up see saw

The Scorpion manufacturers won't say the point of this "power bounce rebound system" is to send your opponent flying. That would be irresponsible and dangerous, like really fun playground equipment used to be. Now of course, we can't recommend it either, but...

9. Mega Hammock

There are some parts of playtime adults will always embrace more easily than kids; one of those is naptime. When the exercise you were having too much fun to notice ends, don't head for the nap mat. Try the Mega Hammock from Hummingbird Hammocks. It's built to official parachute specifications from bonded nylon. Its weigh limit is 1000 pounds. One catch: Hummingbird does not sell the straps and accessories needed to mount the hammock, nor even hint at what those items might be. But if that hammock looks as good to you as it does to me, love will find a way.


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