A new set of stairs now stands on Moxley Field that appear to go no where, but Watertown School and Recreation officials hope they will lead to fun and fitness for the town’s children and adults, alike.
The multi-fitness apparatus made by Colliseum is much more than a set of stairs. It also has a slide to shoot down after running a set of steps, and on other sides users can do pull ups, dips and push ups.
The stairs appeared the week of Thanksgiving, and on Monday, creator Collis Brown came out for a grand opening celebration with some students from Watertown Middle School and the Watertown Boys and Girls Club. The equipment was purchased by the town with funds from the Carol White Physical Education Program Grant, or PEP Grant.
Brown taught physical education teacher at Norwell High School, and coached high school football teams there and at Brookline High School first created the stairs with a slide when he was looking for a way to improve his players’ speed.
He travelled around the country going to some of the top college sports programs – Miami, Florida State, Florida, USC, Boston College and Boston University – to learn their secrets.
“They were doing heaving lifting,” Brown said. “They were putting an awful lot of weight on their bodies. That was doing some harm to their joints.”
He had an epiphany, however, one day when he was late to class.
“I was running up some stairs, and I forgot something so I turned around and came down the stairs,” Brown said. “I realized all the mechanics were completely different coming down, and we needed the body to remember what they were doing coming up.”
He decided to use a slide to get people down after running up a set of stairs when he created the first one in 2004. While working with Children’s Hospital, they told Brown the stairs were a great idea that will encourage youngsters to use the stairs.
“They said, the kids don’t see the stairs, they see the slide,” Brown said.
On the top of the stairs, Brown posted a set of goals – High School Varsity Athletes, Division 1 College Athletes and Professional Athletes. Each one has a time for doing a prescribed number of stairs. On Monday, students tried to see how fast they could run five set of stairs.
The middle schoolers were able to do five sets in around 22 seconds, with the swiftest running times in the 21s. Chris Crombie, program director at the Boys and Girls Club, was able to get under 20 seconds. The key to a fast time, Brown said, is to use the bar at the bottom to swing around and head back up the stairs.
Brown said lacrosse players have some of the fastest times, but hockey players seem to be the quickest. His theory is because they are used to going full speed on the ice the whole time, and then rest on the bench.
The other activities have different skill levels, so even beginners can do them, Brown said. For instance, there are pull up bars, but if that is too difficult, there are handles on chains so you can pull yourself up while keeping your body stiff and keeping your feet on the ground. Users can then work their way up to more difficult exercises.
“I had a 68 year old man who could not do a pull up, at all,” Brown said. “In 6 months he could do eight.”
While the stairs are next to Watertown Middle School, they are meant to be used by everyone in the community, according to Donna Ruseckas, the Watertown Public School’s director of Wellness & Extended Services.
“We hope parents will be here with their kids on the playground and the older kids will be using the stairs,” Ruseckas said. “It is something for kids to do when they are hanging out here – something positive.”
Brown will be back during the year to run clinics using the stairs, Ruseckas said.