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Running the Indoor Track at the Park Slope Armory YMCA

October 4, 2010

Armory interior (photo grom Brooklyn Paper)

Is lying down a sport? Eating a sandwich? How about a bag of potato chips?

People sometimes argue about whether or not bowling, or golf or even baseball are actually sports. However I am certain we could find a wide consensus that lying down and eating are definitely not. Not games, not exercise, not a combination of the two. Not sports. Yet somehow I have seen these things – and many other strange activities – happening in the crown jewel of the YMCA Sports Complex at Park Slope Armory, the 1/8 mile track.

Now – I had been a member of Harbor Fitness, which is a fine establishment and one which I was very comfortable going to. Then the Armory opened up and it was cheaper, closer and had a real indoor track. I have some physical issues running so that was a real plus. Anyway, pretty easy choice; I switched.

The problem is, running on the track is often like running an obstacle course. There are balls flying around, little kids darting in front of you, and their parents – if they are even in the general vicinity – wandering around like they’re looking for the catering. I actually saw a family (the same one where mom was eating chips) with a small kid on one of those wooden bikes. Just hanging out, taking up three or four lanes. Moving, if they were moving, in the wrong direction.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some conscientious people there. But a lot of members treat the area like it’s a big play room for their kids. There are some very small children just set loose, often with rubber balls. The parents or caregivers don’t chaperone them closely at all. Of course when you’re jogging you tend to space out, and at the Armory, you do so at your, and possibly a kid’s, own risk. So you can’t relax, you’re always on the look out, and consequently often annoyed – and by “you” I mean “I” – because even if you aren’t running over some little nipper – something that I came dangerously close to doing last week, my best efforts to avoid such an encounter notwithstanding – you are observing all the circumstances that may lead to such a catastrophe.

There are rules concerning all this that are not followed and that are enforced only in what might charitably be called the most relaxed manner imaginable. I understand that the volleyball, soccer and basketball being played in the center of the track will occasionally have a “leak” (though even this could be mitigated by a better barrier system than what is currently in place). But the members of the Armory YMCA need better education perhaps as to the pitfalls of using what is ostensibly an athletic facility as a substitute for their living room.

As a final note I will say that when I ran on the track tonight, the security guard who usually is involved only with checking people in seemed a lot more active in policing at least the area of the track nearest him (for instance he did say something to the goofy grandpa that grinned stupidly as he watched his 2 or 3 year old grandson waddle right in front of me). So maybe they are attempting to tighten the area up. I sure hope so.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Shibu permalink
    May 22, 2012 5:50 am

    Hmm. I was thinking about joining today. The no longer offer a day pass but they did allow me to beck it out one day for free. I guess I will give it a shot bc o was told you can cancel at any time. The one time I went, it was empty, which I loved. Sometimes I try to calibrate my watch at the 440 at Forest Park & I run into the same issues you described. Ppl just standing on the track talking when you are trying to run. Kids from 2 to 10 who ride their bikes perpendicular across the lanes right I’m front of you. What happened to common courtesyin NYC? I was hoping to avoid it by paying for a track in a more affluent neighborhood. Guess not.


  1. Prospect Park Armory YMCA – Part 2 « Ruder Forms Survive

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