Wednesdays's Large Group class, we were told that we couldn't balance on a railing due to "health and safety" reasons by the park manager. Or whoever he was. The picture was taken shortly before that (as a side note, the pressure of the camera played an interesting factor in everyone's ability to relax ). It wasn't just one guy, he came in the role of good cop - very polite and English about it all, but backed up with 5 park security guards. Bear in mind this is in a Recreation ground with an athletics track, basketball courts and various bits of bodyweight equipment and obstacles dotted around the place - all of which is meant to be open and free for the public to use. I guess the railing/fence around the free to use athletics track is not included in this.
And so followed a relaxed but bemusing conversation with these overseers of safety, where they explained they'd come over because they saw us balancing. They were worried for us, concerned for our safety. It seems the monkey bars don't give them so much stress. Because it's a recreation ground and not a park, they are responsible if we were to "hurt ourselves" balancing. I couldn't be bothered to argue or ask what would happen if we hurt ourselves in the sanctioned equipment they have around the grounds, like maybe I'd fall from the monkey bars or from the climbing stations they have. It would have been fruitless because there's several things at play here - one, the bizarre notion that there's safe equipment and unsafe equipment. Two, that we are apparently not adults with free will and ability to make our own risk assessments and decisions, and take the consequences accordingly. And three, that exercise and even play is so controlled and contrived, we are not free to move with joyous abandonment. We think that because we are outside - and further to that, outside of the confines of a gym and its equipment - that we are free, but we are not.
Realise that movement is not just life - it is sadly also a rebellious act. A revolutionary act. It seems one must become a rebel these days if you wish to move in public outside of the parameters of "normal". If we were kicking a football - no one cares - unless it's in an area designated as "no ball games". If we were heel striking as a form of self punishment, no one would notice (not including us coaches that teach running technique and act like the running police.). If we were sat on a park bench drinking from brown paper bags and inhaling the old "wacky baccy" no one would bat an eyelid. But balancing on a rail? How disgusting and irresponsible of us. I mean - one of us could fall and hurt ourselves! Just what exactly are we hoping to achieve?!
If it isn't these health and safety nuts mumbling "you can't" and "because" then it is usually someone else asking for "movement tax", because you cannot organise a class and instruct others in a public facility (I'm not talking about the Royal parks. I've accepted the Queen's right to decide what happens in her parks for the "people") and teach people how to move without someone getting a cut! But that is easily a whole other other post. I guess I want to know how far this health and safety gone mad trend will go? Is a nanny-state mentality contributing to our current state of movement deprivation?
I want to hear other people's experiences. Please comment and tell me about any instances where you've been told to stop moving / practicing / training because of "health and safety" reasons. Perhaps if we all share our accounts we can start to make sense of it and pick out patterns, and then start to formulate plans to counter it and move freely.
The revolution will not be televised. But it can certainly be documented via social media. Get out there... move... Be a rebel and commit a revolutionary act :)
Hat tip to: RevolutionaryAct.com for the blog title idea.