We were sat on the pavement outside the station in our joggers, water bottles at the ready watching the weekend mull of people passing waiting for our playtime.
A week earlier I had been scanning through Airbnb experiences to see if there was anything a bit unusual to try and had come across City is My Playground. It is pretty much what is says on the tin – learning how to use the city as your playground.
To be honest we had absolutely no idea what to expect. Sure a playground is pretty self explanatory – a collection of colorful objects that kids jump in, through and around surrounded by wood-chip. But we were adults, we were in central London and there was no wood-chip.
We about to learn that really anything could be a playground – if we just changed our mindset and Nicola, our guide, was just the person to help us do that. With over 15 years teaching experience Dance, Pilates and Yoga she has a love for cities and a passion for helping people connect with their bodies whilst having fun outdoors.
Our first ‘play around’ was a bike rack in a small area next to some apartment blocks. We did a few stretches to warm up on the steel frames, hung off them a bit, then swung around them. Weird fact – they started off looking pretty normal but after 10 minutes on them they began to actually look different, or rather they stopped looking like bike racks and more like steel poles sticking out horizontally a meter or so from the ground. It was as if the mind was re-establishing its associations with bike racks and their purpose.
Bike racks over, we wandered through the streets, past some absolutely beautiful street art and down a small road to a lamppost. Yep just an ordinary lamppost. We climbed up and started squatting on them by digging our toes as tight as possible to this tiny little ledge about a foot off the ground, then we played with trying to hold on with one hand and using just one foot for support, then tried to make shapes with our bodies on them. There was a lot of giggling, a bit of sliding and a fair bit of concentration!
Then we found doorways to shimmy into and ‘levitate’ from, bollards to frog leap over and lean on – literally every fixed object in our area of the city suddenly became animated with possibility.
Anyone could go out there and do this. But when you are in a ‘class’ and an instructor is watching over you, you feel a lot more validated to jump on, around and over things.
Nicola’s knowledge of the area was amazing and the hour session began to feel like a little adventure, every door frame, bollard and fixed object became part of our playground. And after the 90 minutes session you feel stretched, incredibly relaxed and strangely free.
Playing in the city just shows how much your environment can change just by shifting your mindset about it – it’s also a fantastic way to workout, or should I say play 🙂
If anyone is interested in finding out more about City is my Playground they are still running their Airbnb experiences and have also just announced a training camp in Berlin from the 27th October! To find out more click here