We’re witnessing a new phenomenon on our walks around Schiller Park these days: the invasion of the public exerciser.
I’m not talking about joggers, or walkers, or even those comically determined power walkers. I’m talking about people who have suddenly begun to use the park as their own special fitness facility. They brace themselves on the park benches to do stiff-backed push-ups and extravagant leg lifts. They lie down on the asphalt of the basketball court and make cycling motions with their legs, then stand up and perform a kind of fitful twisting dance down the length of the court. They do a lot of squatting, display butt cracks, and duck walk around. They wave their arms like helicopter rotors, raise their knees up to chest level, and hop, hop, hop. They lean against the picnic tables and stretch. Then they put their hands on the basketball hoop poles and stretch some more. We’d better hope that they’re not contagious, because they’ve touched pretty much every object and surface in the park aside from the Schiller statue — and they’d probably use that, too, if there wasn’t a fence around it.
These people just came out of the woodwork as the weather finally warmed up. I recognize that fitness clubs have been closed down for two months, and perhaps that’s where they used to do their preening. But what I find interesting is that they do all of these highly visible — and probably consciously visible — exercises in public, when they could be doing every one of them in the privacy of their homes or in the privacy of their backyards. They’re not trying to be discreet. It’s pretty clear that they’re desperate for attention — and probably desperate, period.
Who’d have thought our pretty neighborhood park would also serve as an outdoor gymnasium for attention-seeking fitness fans? It’s harmless, I suppose, but kind of annoying nevertheless.