Written by Megan Skelton
In a world where families are increasingly aware of the importance of physical activity but are also increasingly busy, a new trend in playground planning is starting to pop up all around central Indiana. Unlike playgrounds of the past, adults are no longer being relegated to watching from picnic tables, benches, or blankets in the grass. At many new and developing playgrounds, exercise equipment for adult use is being installed. Now you can have your cake and eat it too…and then work off the calories while the kids play.
Parks with Fitness Equipment in Indianapolis
Colts Play 60 Fitness Park
Riverside Park, 2420 East Riverside Drive
A fitness destination for all ages, the Indianapolis Colts partnered with Riverside Park to create the Colts Play 60 Fitness Park. There is an adult-only fitness area for those 13 and up that includes GTfit Fitness Equipment for a complete workout. While parents get in some exercise, the kids try to beat their time at the 40-yard dash or take on the Challenge Course. Included in the course are 11 obstacles intended to improve strength, agility, balance, and speed. After parents finish their circuits, they can join their children on the Challenge Course for some family-friendly competition.
IUPUI Fitness Garden
IU Natatorium, outside south entrance, across from Carroll Stadium
Best suited for families with older children, the IUPUI Fitness Garden offers inclusive (ADA) community-accessible fitness equipment. Instructions for proper body form and equipment use are posted with each station. 33 fitness stations provide either calisthenics-based or resistance-based workouts. Lat pull-downs, hip twists, assisted pushups, chest presses, leg presses, and sit-up stations combine to offer a full-body workout.
5253 West 62nd Street
Located within Northwestway Park, this compact outdoor gym packs a real punch with its simple, yet effective, calisthenics workout equipment. This includes pull-up bars, parallel bars, low bars, an ab bench, and a monkey ladder. Based on the scale of the equipment, this outdoor gym is best suited for adults and older children. However, within view of the adult equipment, is a large playground for school-age children along with many trails and lots of green wide open space.
Stout Field Park
3820 West Bradbury Avenue
This hidden gem currently shares a limited amount of parking with Stout Field elementary and is the perfect place to get parents and kids moving. This park is fitness-forward with great equipment for parents, including a lat pull, elliptical, stair stepper, and standing leg press. A NEOS 360, an electronic competitive game for all ages, is in the same space offering several different games that incorporate lots of running and flashing lights.
Located just a few feet away is a unique, highly inclusive playground. This playscape offers traditional equipment such as slides and swings, but also more unusual pieces that encourage climbing and jumping. There is also plenty of green space, basketball courts, and nearby restrooms. During the summer you can all cool off in the colorful splash pad before going for a walk on the trails to round out your workout.
Broad Ripple Park
6400 Ralston Avenue
It might not be its claim to fame, but Broad Ripple Park holds a little-known exercise trail that is both adult and child friendly. Just past the aquatic center is the first of 15 exercise stations along the trail loop. This includes pull-up stations, dip stations, a hyper-extension bench, sit-ups, push-up bars, and a rope climb to name a few.
The path winds beautifully along the White River and through the rest of the park. It conveniently passes right by a great playground for the kids to take a break from structured exercise. Other family-friendly amenities include picnic tables, pickleball, tennis courts, and a dog park. This park is a great place to exercise with a view.
Parks with Fitness Equipment on the North Side
Cool Creek Park Playground
2000 East 151st Street, Carmel
One of the first in the state to incorporate traditional fitness equipment into a playground setting, Cool Creek Park’s playground encourages an active lifestyle for children and adults. Each piece of equipment has a visual showing which muscle group it targets, how to use it, and the suggested age range. A QR code can even be scanned for a demonstration video.
To add to the fun, some of the equipment can hold four participants at a time so you can exercise with your children or friends! There’s even a bench with seated ellipticals for a slightly more relaxed workout. Cool Creek also boasts picnic tables, a nature center, a natural playground, great creek stomping, acres of beautiful nature, trails, and more.
Carey Grove Park
14001 Carey Road, Carmel
Updated in 2021, this Carmel Clay neighborhood park is great for adults wanting to exercise while watching their kids play. Facing the playground from two sides are groups of exercise bikes and an elliptical machine. Although you’re sure to sweat, you won’t feel the burn from the sun as the equipment at Carey Grove is thankfully well-shaded. While you get your steps in, the kids can climb, run, swing, and spin safely in one of the two separate areas for younger and older children.
Parks with Exercise Equipment on the South Side
Old City Park
304 South Meridian Street, Greenwood
As part of the massive 2020 overhaul of the beloved Old City Park of Greenwood, the city’s first park fitness circuit was added. Located near the bocce ball courts with a beautiful view of the park’s green space, are two air walkers, a stepper, a stretch bar, and a pushup bar. Each piece has images and QR code links to videos explaining the uses of the equipment. Although there is a beautiful playground and sound garden equipment, it is a rather far walk from the adult fitness equipment. As such, this spot is probably best for families with older children.
Parks with Exercise Equipment on the West Side
605 Stephens Drive, Brownsburg
After its very recent facelift and expansion, Stephens Park in Brownsburg now serves to engage users of all ages, demographics, and abilities. The adult fitness equipment zone and children’s playground are closely connected by a shaded pavilion providing a great view of your kiddos at play. Featured equipment includes an elliptical, stair steppers, a butterfly machine, an arm cycle, and more. Also available are a walking loop, six pickle-ball courts, restrooms, and a rain garden to relax you after a long workout.
Virgil Park (construction to begin Spring 2024)
Along C.R. 300 N, Brownsburg
While the focus of this upcoming park is on wetland and prairie conservation, it will include pint-size versions of all the park and playground musts. This includes an adult exercise area, a picnic shelter, restrooms, boardwalk trails, and a playground.
If you didn’t find a playground or park near you with exercise equipment readily available, don’t despair. It seems this is a trend on the rise. Until then, here are a few simple ways to turn a playground into a gym:
1. Jump with both feet to the top of a park bench or playground platform.
2. Hang from the monkey bars and tuck your legs up to your chest.
3. Place your feet on a park bench or on the seat of a swing to do push-ups.
4. Try split squats with one foot behind you in a swing.
Lastly, and probably your children’s favorite, get in some cardio by chasing them around the playground. Who says playgrounds are just for the kids?
Looking for more great parks and playgrounds in the Indy area? Try some of our favorites!