BwogBuns: The Riverside Rings
Written by Bwog Staff
It’s the morning after Thanksgiving and you feel fat. Exercise! Diana Clarke sacrificed her knuckles for the sake of Bwog and health.
If you take the steps at 108th Street down into Riverside Park and veer south, you’ll follow the stone steps of an amphitheater down to a patch of sand overlooking the Hudson. The seats are empty, but the sand is dotted with people surrounding the two lines of hanging rings suspended from central metal bars standing twenty or thirty feet high. One of those people is Jamila Barra, BC ’13. “Here, wanna see my hands?” she asks me. Though she coats her palms in chalk before swinging from the rings, her hands are callused, the skin peeling.
What makes her take time out of her week to rip up her palms and leave her sides aching? Jamila is one of a few Columbia/Barnard students who visit the hanging rings looking for an unusual workout. More social than running, the rings also attracts a crowd of people from around the neighborhood, most of whom are really friendly and helpful in getting newcomers started. “Nobody looks down on you if you suck,” Jamila says.
It’s true; when I visited the rings, everyone there cheered me on and offered advice as I tried haphazardly to swing myself down the line, even though some of them were doing flips and twists that looked like they belonged in the circus. Jamila, in fact, likes using the rings to practice for the trapeze and build upper body strength for the circus back home in Germany.
However, even for those students less acrobatically inclined (like me) there are options—swinging down the line of rings, but also leg-ups and pull-ups and simulated crunches. It’s different and way more fun than going to the gym, more like being five years old and just happening to work on your abs at the same time. You meet cool people, run around barefoot, and, says Jamila, “the rings are free and they’re always there,” and sometimes when it’s a beautiful, sunny day “there’s really nothing else you can do.”