Florida Playground Top News


The most insightful articles and posts on playgrounds, parks, and recreation in Florida.


Rust. It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

Fe2O3 H2O. Hydrated Ferric Oxide. Rust! 

Why do things rust so easily? 

Steel is made of iron and carbon and iron can’t help but rust, because all it wants to do is go back to its thermodynamically-favored state of being, which is iron ore.  When we mine iron, it looks like rust, because it is rust.  When we make steel, we’re forcing it to be something it doesn’t want to be and rust is iron’s way of defying our efforts.  Here in Florida, that fight is even tougher. 

So to counteract that, we clean, treat, coat, paint and so on.  But, that only slows down the process.  On most outdoor fitness equipment or playground products, we first see rust occurring at the welds.

Why there?

The process.  One of the best ways to fight rust is galvanization, but it’s rust-resistance qualities are compromised during the welding process.    

When galvanized steel is welded, it is exposed to extremely high temperatures, typically exceeding the melting point of zinc (419°C or 787°F). During welding, several key factors can impact the integrity of the zinc coating and the overall corrosion protection:  Zinc vaporization, oxidation and depletion, spatter and contamination, heat affected zones are compromised. 

BeStrong Outdoor Fitness Equipment uses a different approach.

Post-Weld Galvanization:  Galvanizing after welding, ensures that all component parts, including the welded areas, receive the necessary surface treatment for corrosion protection.

Thickness:  BeStrong’s galvanization is 2.5 times thicker than competing products.    

Grinding: After welding and before galvanizing, our craftsmen employ precision grinding techniques to refine the appearance and aesthetics.  While it provides and exceptional visually appealing product, it removes even the smallest burrs and pits, further protecting any chance of rust sneaking in. 

Sandblasting: BeStrong adheres to the stringent standard SA3, where cinder, rust, and other surface impurities are completely removed, setting the stage for a flawless finish. 

Primer:  Before final surface coating, Epoxy Resin Powder is applied at 2.36-3.14 mil. thickness.  E-coating is commonly used in industries such as automotive, appliances, and furniture for corrosion protection and as a primer coat for additional coatings.

Top Coat: Lacquer with Weatherproof PES Powder, provides the ultimate protection against environmental factors. 

Beyond the process:  High quality standards in material selection, advanced material cutting techniques to ensure seamless assembly, and highly skilled welders using state-of-the-art equipment to join each piece to create a solid and dependable framework.  

BeStrong – Outdoor fitness equipment of the highest quality. 

Photo by Rémi Jacquaint on Unsplash


When a Playground is the Content and the Context, We All Win

“Picture a flower.  Then … picture a flower in a field or completely by itself.  Or a flower on a gravestone, and then picture that same flower in the barrel of a gun.  The context changes the content and the background of a picture changes the subject.” – Rick Rubin

To continue with Rick Ruben’s thought, when we see a picture of a flower sticking out of the barrel of a gun, some of us will see a message of peace, while others will see the destruction of peace.  In either case, the gun is not the main subject.  It’s about the flower.  But if we see peace, we see that the flower is affecting the gun.  If we see the destruction of peace, we see the gun affecting the flower and what it represents. 

As Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not so much what we look at that matters.  It’s what we see.”

While context and background can affect the perception of the content, how we see it and interpret it, depends on us.  What kind of mood are we in?   Our outlook, philosophy, beliefs, positivity or negativity, optimism or pessimism, political leaning, personal experiences, religion, education, and a thousand other things in real time, considering the infinite number of variables, circumstances, and dynamics of reality.

As adults, we’re experts at convoluting what is.  Children are better at just being.  A playground changes the landscape.  It can be the content as well as the context, but it remains the subject.  When we look at it, children and adults both tend to see the same thing; play. 

Play is liberating and invigorating.  It un-convolutes our brain chatter and let’s us relax and be in the moment.  It’s healthy and rejuvenating.  It allows us to decompress, relax our shoulders, and let joy and positivity in. 

Children are under so much pressure to achieve, level-up, and be better.  All well and good when managed correctly, but if not, that pressure can build and cause distress.  When a playground or just play in general is the background, the subject is elevated.  Let’s help our children elevate themselves.  And we adults should remember to play as well. 

We’re part of the context.

Photo by Andrew Small on Unsplash


Albert Einstein's Formula for Success

“We don’t stop playing, because we grow old.  We grow old, because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw.

In a 1929 interview with the New York Times, Albert Einstein presented his simple formula for success.  It goes like this: A = X + Y + Z

“While A represents Success, X is Work, Y is Play, and Z is Keeping Your Mouth Shut.”

Hmm … “Keeping your mouth shut” provides some insight as to where his head was at. We can read into that some other time, but in this important formula, there’s Y.  Play. 

Play relieves stress and makes us more resilient.  Resiliency is a huge deal.  Play improves brain function, stimulates our mind and boosts creativity and overall competency.  It improves our relationships and interactions with other humans.  It greatly improves and fosters emotional and psychological stability and overall health.  Maybe more importantly, it keeps us young and energetic. 

Play is so vitally important to human nature, overall health, and longevity, but in terms of success, it’s a must.  Play makes our work better.  Without our “down-time”, leisure, and active play, any time we spend “working” will suffer in quality.  It’s not so much about time spent working; it’s about how much we’re actually accomplishing. 

This is why recess is so important.  Well, adults need recess too.  Maybe more so. 

Play!  It might just be the fountain of youth as well as the key to success.

We’ll see you on the “playground”. 


The Human Benefits of Mindless Play

Mindfulness is a popular go-to term these days: “We need to be more mindful”.  Maybe, but it’s grossly misunderstood. 

Mindfulness is not a mind full of chatter, thoughts, worries, expectations, multi-tasking, distractions, perceptions, ego, and a thousand other things.  That is overwhelming and most of us kind of live that way.  We don’t “notice” it, because we think it’s normal, but it does take a detrimental toll. 

So what then?  Mindlessness? 

That’s actually hilarious, but no.  Mushin.  In the movie, “The Last Samurai”, Tom Cruise’s character while being trained in the way of the sword, is getting thrown all over the place, no matter  how hard he tries.  After one of the hard falls, he’s approached by a fellow student, who tells him “Too many mind.” 

“Too many mind?” 

“Hai; you mind the sword, mind the people watching, mind your enemy.  Too many mind.  No mind.”

“… no mind.”

This is Mushin.  Mushin is the Japanese concept of mind of no mind. When a person’s mind is free of thoughts, judgement, fears, ego, anger, and so on during combat, as well as everyday life.  This is acting accordingly to the situation at hand, without the burden of conscious thought. 

How do we do that?  Mindfulness.  Wait … what?

Mindfulness and Mushin are like yin and yang.  YinYang is not about balance between opposing forces.  It’s about interrelated harmony of those forces.  This is the same with mindfulness and mind of no mind.  We cannot be mindful, if our head is full of “too many mind”.  Mindfulness is being in the moment, within reality in real time, as in unfolds dynamically.  Mindful of being there in the now.  Do this so well, we achieve Mushin.

We may not see it, but this is what happens in children as they play.  Climbing a net, traversing a horizontal ladder, swinging, spinning, balancing, sliding, and running while interacting with others.  No adulterated egos, worries, or outside distractions.  They are there.  Completely. 

It calms the nervous system, we uptake and utilize oxygen better, our brains are more powerful (because they’re not clogged up), pain is reduced, sleep is better, concentration, balance, and emotional and psychological health is better.  It keeps us more youthful. 

This kind of play is harder for adults, because we have adult responsibilities, problems, and so on.  True, but sometimes we can allow too much or blow things out of proportion.  So we practice Yoga or Martial Arts, which both require Mushin/Mindfulness to do effectively.  But even in pickleball, if our head isn’t in the game, we’re not going to do very well.  Same with everyday life. 

Mindfulness, yes.  Mushin, yes. 

Be there or be square.

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash


Get Out

Get Out

We humans spend most of our time indoors, under artificial lighting and most of that lighting is highly efficient fluorescent tubes and LED bulbs.  But, efficient hardly ever means better. 

We can’t sense it, but the flicker from CFL and LED lights can lead to eye strain, headaches, stress, poor concentration, and fatigue.  In fact, according to an article from the National Library of Medicine, a 2010 study found that exposure to fluorescent lighting causes a heightened central nervous system arousal.  Not good. 

LED bulbs may be even more irritating to the eyes and brain, whereas although not detectable, LEDs dim by 100% with each flicker, while fluorescents dim about 35%.

Beyond that, there’s artificially conditioned air, electronic white noise, wifi signals, computer screens, and lots of sitting. First-graders, high school students, college students, and most adults all the way through retirement age. 

So, what do we do when we’ve spent most of our day in this environment?  We go to the gym where there’s artificial fluorescent lighting, reconditioned air, electronic white noise, wifi signals, and even more screens to stare at.  And, unless we’re on a treadmill, we’re probably sitting on some machine. 

Hmm … we need a better place to decompress and recharge, and it’s outside.  In Florida?  Yes, even in Florida where we love our air-conditioning. 

Just being in a natural environment has been shown to decrease tension, blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Natural sunlight elevates mood, happiness, positivity, and mental health.  Fresh air raises serotonin levels, which helps regulate natural sleep cycles, and it’s an anti-depressant.

And that’s just being outdoors but, add exercise and movement and we’re positively stimulating the cerebellum.  This part of the brain that processes movement is also the exact same part of the brain responsible for learning.  Movement makes us smarter.

So many studies have shown aerobic exercise improves many aspects of cognitive function, such as memory, decision-making, problem solving and attention. 

Resistance training has been shown to improve “executive function,” such as the ability to selectively pay attention to your professor instead of our iPhone and the ability to think before we act – inhibitory control – cognitive flexibility, and the capacity to hold information in our mind and manipulate it.

You see where this is going:  Outdoor fitness helps us to decompress, relax, improve sleep, fight depression and anxiety, while elevating mood, positivity, and overall mental health. It improves brain function, neuroplasticity, memory, problem solving, attention and cognitive flexibility.

Rick Ruben said, “a painting is just a painting until we put a frame around it and hang it on the wall”.  Then, it becomes art.  It attracts our attention, draws us in, and becomes more valuable.

When we create an outdoor fitness space with the right equipment, that space becomes more valuable in ways that are immeasurable to all the human benefits it provides.

Let’s get outside.


The Real Reason that Prince and Burke Live Purple

Microsoft’s default or core color is blue.  The official Apple colors are black and grey.  And Google covers basically everything, everywhere, all at once with the primary colors of paint and light. 

But really, what’s in a color? 

Microsoft’s blue represents security, trust, and loyalty.  Apple’s black is about sophistication, power, and mystery.  Hmm … mystery.  And Google?  It’s plausible that the real reason is Google’s first server was built with Lego, in blue, red, yellow, and green. 

So, what’s with Burke’s purple? 

The tagline of Burke’s playground and recreation products is “Play that moves you.”  But, not just in a physical way.  So much goes into research, design, and development in each play element and product and how it fits into an overall system to ignite cognitive, social, emotional, and imaginative skill development.  It’s more than just a “playground”, but we’re not supposed to know that.  We should see it as an awesome thing to climb on, slide on, swing, jump, and laugh on, while leaving the technical stuff to the experts.

Purple is a color that encourages the mind, body, and soul to live in harmony.  It brings together balance of mental clarity with emotional stability.  It’s the color of enlightenment, welcoming all schools of thought.  It’s unbiased and civilized, as it promotes understanding and acceptance.

Yep, colors have meaning.  I didn’t know how much, until I went down this rabbit hole.

Did you know that purple is the most powerful visible wavelength of all the colors of the rainbow?  It stimulates our mood while it calms the mind and nerves.  It’s uplifting, as it encourages imagination, creativity, playfulness, and uniqueness.  This is why many musicians, writers, poets, and artists respond well to purple. 

But, that’s not why Prince embraced the color.  Purple represents royalty and according his sister Sharon Nelson, it made him feel more “Princely”. 

Royalty, strength, prestige, ability, and innovation are all represented by purple, while on a more human scale, empathy, peace, happiness, compassion, spirituality, and inspiration.

What’s in a color?  Well … more than meets the eye, apparently.

Wait, I hear Prince playing in the background; “I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain …”


Walking has many positive biological benefits, such as blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol regulation.  It helps in body fat management, improves mood, reduces stress, and improves brain health, and so much more.  Walking is good for the human body and mind in so many ways it should be a part of our daily routine.  But it’s kind of a passive movement.  It’s so natural, we’re sort of on autopilot, even though our brain is calculating and coordinating so many functions to move us forward.

Our brain tells our body how to move.  Movement improves the health of our brain.  MOVMNT by Burke encourages the focused, active interaction between the brain and the body and the benefits are beyond measure.


  1. Kinesthesia, of course.  What?!  Kinesiology is the study of movement and kinesthesia is the ability to know where parts of our body are and how they are moving.  Spatial awareness, timing, coordination, focus, precision, and adjustments in real time.

The more we do it, the better we become.  This is kinesthetic learning. 

According to an article by the National Math Foundation, kinesthetic learning encourages, physical activity, bolsters cognitive, social, and emotional development, enhances the brain’s capacity to retain information, and develops not just individual capacities and strengths, but also self-confidence in those capacities. 

  1. When we focus our attention while moving, neurons stop signaling in sync with one another and start firing out of sync.  This sounds bad, but it’s a good thing.  This helps us to respond accordingly to different types of sensory information, allowing us to identify, categorize, and respond to sensory input that’s more important or less worthy of our attention. 

This is our cholinergic system at work, which is involved in the regulation of attention and higher-order cognitive processing. When we “exercise” our cholinergic system, we improve brain health and stave off cognitive decline.  It improves skill, reaction time, decisive action, visual acuity, hand-eye coordination, physical ability, problem solving, reflexes, and so much more. 

  1. Then there’s neuroplasticity, the brain’s capacity to continue growing and evolving in response to life experiences.  Our continued ability to form new connections in learning, maintain a healthy brain, and improve cognition.  Functional neuroplasticity is how well our neuronal connections are performing.  While all forms of exercise and movement improve neuroplasticity, focused, attentive movement, engaging the mind and body together can be even better.

Focused attentive movement engages the mind and body together to perform physically skilled tasks.  MOVMNT encourages, engages, and exercises our cholinergic system, kinesthesia, and neuroplasticity.  It burns calories, and improves our strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. 

We hear and see the lighted button, quickly move towards it, position ourselves to perform a spatially aware skill that involves dynamic focus to effectively press the button to score and immediately get ready for the next one. 

In other words, it’s fun and really good for us.  So, let’s MOV!


Stress Keeps Us from Falling Over

Inside Arizona’s Biosphere 2, the trees grew very rapidly, more so than they would outside of the dome.  But, before they reached full maturity, they would simply fall over.  They would reach a certain height; and, it’s not that they reached the literal glass ceiling, but at a certain height, they would fall over. 

At first, the scientists couldn’t figure out why.  But after some research, they found the answer.  It was a complete lack of stress that made the root system, the bark, and the entire tree weak. 

In the real world outside of the dome, trees have to withstand wind and other elements, position themselves in a way to get more sunlight, and grow a deep and wide root system to get enough water. 

In Biosphere 2, the trees didn’t have to do any of those things: no wind, plenty of water, no elements like heavy rain, never too hot or cold, and there was always enough UV light.  All that comfort and ease produced weak trees that fell over.

Humans are kind of the same in this respect.  When we play, climb, swing, slide, run, jump, lift, pull, crawl, and move our body and use our mind to maneuver in ways that “stress” us to a certain degree, we get stronger, more flexible, less fragile, and more resilient.  We learn to make smart choices, mitigate danger, and safely navigate risk.

A well-designed playground, with challenging play elements, inspires children to grow stronger.  While there are biosphere reserves in Florida, there’s nothing like the Biosphere 2 dome.  Although a playground in mid-summer in Central Florida can feel like a greenhouse without air conditioning.  But, that’s part of risk navigation as well.  Awareness of the elements and making smart choices, is all part of the strengthening and resiliency process.

A Biosphere-2 tree would not survive in the real world; it doesn’t even “stand” a chance. 

Becoming stronger and more resilient in our formative years, helps us to handle stress and even distress in the real world, outside of the protective dome.  This is just as important in adults as well.  Instead of finding ways to completely avoid stress or stressors, it’s better to learn to engage with stress, manage it, and even use it to our advantage.  We’re less reactionary, we’re not devastated when the cheese is moved, we’re calmer, and more in control of our emotions.  Our temperament becomes more temperate. 

Outdoor exercise, even in Florida, is better than any pharmaceutical or supplement.  So, let’s go play.


Ten Very Important Reasons to Climb

We’re currently on season 14 of American Ninja Warrior and it’s viewing audience is the lowest it’s ever been with just 2.9 million.  In fact, it’s dropped steadily since season seven, which had 6.5 million viewers.  A loss of 3.6 million over the past seven seasons. 

So, what’s causing this “downfall” in viewership?  One cited reason is that the contestants are literally falling with the increase of overhead obstacles.  While it quickly narrows down and separates the competition, we can kind of predict who’s going to win, or at the very least, who’s going to fall.  Not a great formula for holding an audience. 

When a monkey swings from tree to tree, using a swinging momentum helped along by gravity, that is brachiating.  It’s also what kids do on the playground, when they swing from rung to rung on an overhead ladder.  So, why aren’t we great brachiators?  Well … for one thing, it’s not a required survival skill of modern humans.

Unless we're a member of a rock-climbing gym, especially in the flat state of Florida, we generally spend no time climbing.  

But, while we’ve all but abandoned brachiating, we should reintroduce it into our lives for at least the following ten reasons:

  1. It stimulates both sides of our brains for greater integration and learning. 
  2. It floods the brain with fresh, oxygenated blood promoting healthy gray matter.
  3. Spinal decompression, back development, and posture. 
  4. It relieves stress and tension.
  5. Strengthens upper body and grip strength. 
  6. It connects the mind and body in a focused activity that improves hand-eye coordination that has been shown to improve reading skills, writing, overall dexterity, and problem-solving.
  7. It helps to develop and strengthen fine motor skills.
  8. Improves kinesthetic and spatial awareness.
  9. It facilitates the expansion of the thoracic cage, developing the maturity of our lungs and overall respiratory capacity and a decrease in respiratory disease. 
  10. It’s fun, empowering, and liberating. 

So, get out there and brachiate!  It’s not just for kids anymore.