Swingin’ Gym

one of the most dangerous, unsuccessful rides ever produced

The Swingin’ Gym (also known as ‘The Flying Cages’) has hurt and maimed large numbers of its riders, with the original design almost uninsurable within a few years of operation. If you own one, you have a giant piece of carnival art, and a great fitness apparatus if you can master it!

The ride action is very simple and relies on the physical exertion of its passengers to keep it moving; stopping it is another matter altogether! Basically through human strength, a single rider rocks the counter-weighted cage back and fourth until it swings over the top.

Within a few years there were all too many reports of riders getting slung over to one side, battered and bruised by their very own momentum with riders sometimes ending up unconscious, with broken bones, split heads, grazes etc. Nevertheless, the ride concept was incredibly original and if not for injuries of lesser coordinated riders, would have been highly profitable and easy to maintain for its owner as the below advertisement suggests.

Grover Watkins of Watkins Rides (AKA Venture Rides & Hi Lite Rides) recalls he made his first Swingin’ Gym for his own park in 1959. “We built over 400 through 1969, selling them at $10,000 each. The idea came from an old German ride that was over 100 years old. It was a fantastic ride, but the darn thing was dangerous. It resulted in a lot of stiff elbows, broken teeth, etc. “I finally quit making them because I couldn’t design out the accidents. I learned, to my sorrow, that I had been betting on the coordination, balance, etc. of the public and you can imagine when somebody with a few drinks in them got on it.”

Due to their relatively low cost, many more were manufactured worldwide, with at least 13 units manufactured in the UK, and many more custom-built designs rolled out in a very short time across Europe.

A small number of modified units still make appearances across Europe, with enhanced safety including extra padding and supervisor-controlled disc or air brakes in the advent a rider loses their footing.

What a conversation piece of backyard play (or exercise) equipment!

188 Responses to “Swingin’ Gym”

  1. This was the challenge back then. My sister and I would just watch the older kids try and ty to get it over the top. When our parents finally gave in and paid for us to try (it took all summer to convince them),, we got it over. The operator in Wildwood NJ would let you stay in until you begged to get out. Our parents begged him to let us out.

    Dan - November 20th, 2014 at 1:55 pm

  2. The 2nd photo looks like Enchanted Forest, Chesterton Indiana… I believe growing up this is the only place I have ever seen these. Friend and I were able to get it over but I remember it being a bit scary when you start to loose your balance and a serious work out.

    That was back in the mid 80’s… would love one of these in my back yard to lose my Pepsi/Dairy Queen tummy!

    Erik

    Erik Ames - December 8th, 2014 at 7:19 pm

  3. I’m looking to buy a 2-4 cage unit, for personal use. I have cash, will pay good money for the right one, or any one for that matter. I will pick up from any location, thank you. Text/call 302-584-8187

    Darius - January 19th, 2015 at 4:48 am

  4. still would like to buy a set of theese im in texas cash buyer

    larry - February 24th, 2015 at 10:08 am

  5. I see most of the offers to sell are dated- if anyone still has one to sell, please contact me 720 420-1770 matt

    matt - May 4th, 2015 at 5:11 am

  6. The season1, episode1 of the Rockford Files shows a scene at Palisades Park & really brought back the memories with this ride, wow. I worked a summer job at a small local park when i was 14, I used to race the operator…. no push… ha now i need a push to stand up!

    Lisa - May 18th, 2015 at 2:50 pm

  7. I have a 4 cage set of Flying Cages (Swingin Gym). Bought them a couple of years ago. They were built in the 60’s. I’m looking for someone to work with me to make blue prints of this ride and update the cages and brake. Anyone interested? Love these rides!

    Glen - August 1st, 2015 at 4:36 am

  8. Glen, I might be willing to do drawings for you, but you didn’t leave any way for me to contact you. Email me at jackzeiger@hotmail.com

    Jack - August 18th, 2015 at 5:32 am

  9. Hi, Sorry my email is swingingym@gmail.com. Went to Knoebels Amusement Park this past weekend. Saw pictures of the one they had in the timeline room. Awesome! Thanks Glen

    Glen - September 2nd, 2015 at 7:29 am

  10. There is a set of these every year in Ft. Vallonia, Indiana during their festival in October. Neatest ride I’ve ever seen. :)

    Danielle - September 7th, 2015 at 2:06 pm

  11. A bit of help, please … I loved the Swingin’ Gym when I was summering in Lake Arrowhead, CA at 6 or 7 years old. My siblings and I would work as a team and crowds would gather and cheer us on since we were so little.

    I would love to have my kids ride this. Where can I find one in use? Thank you!

    Sandy - September 12th, 2015 at 1:59 am

  12. Not too much obesity in those days. I loved ’em then, and would like one now.

    Gess Healey - November 23rd, 2015 at 1:20 pm

  13. Hi Iam 58 Use to ride the swingjim (flying cage)every year at the Roscoe Ill fall fest.as a teen. COOLEST RIDE EVER Betting I could still get it flying around. Would try rebuilding one if it could be bought reasonable. welding, wood work no problem. 2-10-16

    rod lee - February 11th, 2016 at 2:23 am

  14. Hi Iam 58 Use to ride the swingjim (flying cage)every year at the Roscoe Ill fall fest.as a teen. COOLEST RIDE EVER Betting I could still get it flying around. Would try rebuilding one if it could be bought reasonable. welding, wood work no problem. 2-10-16 e mail matscat48@gmail.com

    rod lee - February 11th, 2016 at 2:29 am

  15. I used to be very good by myself in the 70s & 80s. The Carnie would usually leave me on it way past my time limit as advertisement I guess. I’d love to have one of my own, I’m 62 but I bet I’d still get it cranking with a little practice LOL

    Robert DeJonge - April 1st, 2016 at 9:38 am

  16. Has anyone found a set of plans to buy to build a set of cages

    Mark loving - May 1st, 2016 at 7:26 am

  17. Every few years I get to thinking about these swings or flying cages and I wish I could find some. I remember they were so much fun to ride. I would love to experience them again. And I would love to buy some to put in my back yard. My back yard is a couple acres. Is there anyone out there who can tell me where I could find one for sale or plans to build one? Thanks. Jeff 260-580-97 eleven

    Jeff Sedlmeyer - May 21st, 2016 at 1:42 pm

  18. I need some pictures of the unit from the front and sides. don’t need cage,,, just arms and bearings, and vertical support. bill in Oregon mcgyver@peak.org

    mcgyver - August 7th, 2016 at 4:01 am

  19. I am possibly interested in buying or refurbishing a set of flying cages or swinging gyms. If anyone knows of any to sell, or how to build, please contact me at jsteffen@telebeep.com. Thanks a bunch!

    A Steffen - January 12th, 2017 at 8:27 am

  20. Almost completed a 3D design, fully detailed. Will want to swop for $ to support local funfair.

    Sid. - January 21st, 2017 at 9:56 pm

  21. sid@afikim.org.il new one built. drawings available to support local funfair. speak to me

    Sid. - March 4th, 2017 at 3:48 am

  22. My younger brother and also would power through the brakes. They called it Alley Opp at bells in Tulsa

    M schepers - April 27th, 2017 at 11:21 am

  23. I am looking to buy a swingin’ gym Please email me at nobackingdown666@gmai.com Thanks

    Cathy Sanderson - May 21st, 2017 at 10:04 am

  24. Looking to buy a swingin’ gym Please email me at nobackingdown666@gmail.com Thanks

    Cathy Sanderson - May 21st, 2017 at 10:10 am

  25. would like to buy a set has anybody seen any of theese for sale larryteague@ymail.com texas

    larry - June 9th, 2017 at 12:49 am

  26. I have a set of 4 cages on a trailer built in the 60’s. I want to rebuild them. I havn’t started yet. I’m looking for someone to help draw them on cad and resign some better safety and brakes. If anyone is interested in helping email me. Passnbyu@comcast.net Thanks Glen

    Glen - July 23rd, 2017 at 1:59 am

  27. Swinging Gyms always at Flat rock Indiana VFD fish fry. Held second weekend each year this is the seventh year. 21018 will mark the eighth year.

    Grace Cantwell - August 13th, 2017 at 7:41 am

  28. my daughter set up our Face Book @ Stockyard Cafe Baton Rouge My name is Glen at 225-202-4444 Please put me in the loop with y’all on the Swinging Gyms I consider myself Honored just to get this far. Have a Blessed Day !!!

    Glen Chamblee - September 13th, 2017 at 5:49 am

  29. Thinking of selling my set of flying cages / swingin gym. Four cages set on trailer. It will need to be restored completely but its all there and its original. email me if your interested. Thanks passnbyu@comcast.net

    Glen - November 6th, 2017 at 11:59 am

  30. I loved the cages! Was only about 7-8 yrs old and mastered it. Loved to watch big muscle men watch me and think it was easy but then not be able to do it. Was all about balance and weight distribution.

    Lana J Runion - February 18th, 2018 at 1:48 am

  31. I have one in Waterloo Iowa

    Tom - May 15th, 2018 at 1:50 am

  32. In the early 1970’s, my friend and I were addicted to this ride at the Dade County Youth Fair. We became expert at working it together and we each could swing it over alone. There were 3 different weighted cages as I remember. We were13 at the time. Awesome ride!

    Cyndi Meyer - May 25th, 2018 at 7:01 am

  33. Best. Ride. Ever. If I had access to one of these, I would throw away every other piece of workout equipment I own. I remember seeing one for sale on Ebay around 10 years ago for about $2k. There are a couple out there for sale now, going for $30k. I could kick myself for not grabbing it back then!

    Darren - June 29th, 2018 at 1:42 am

  34. Wow -what a memory! One of the best and simplest amusement park rides ever invented. If you held onto the handles (like you were SUPPOSED to), you’d have full control over the ride. I ended up swingin’ it up and over several times and had an absolute ball! Will look around to see if any are still operating in the U.S.-

    John - July 3rd, 2018 at 11:02 am

  35. We used to ride these at the Kiwanis Carnival in Livingston back in the late 70s early 80s are they available for sale privately and if so where can I find one I love this ride it was a n excellent workout

    Billy - July 15th, 2018 at 9:17 am

  36. I used to ride this at the Kiwanis Carnival in Livingston during the late 70s and the early 80s I love this great exercise ride are they available for sale now privately and if so how can I get ahold of them

    Billy - July 15th, 2018 at 9:18 am

  37. My sister & I & friend mastered the swingin’ gym @ Kiddieland on McCormick, Chicago. It took a few trys, dude let us stay on-we went over & over & over again-what a blast! Are there any near Chicago we might ‘re-visit’?

    Karen - October 23rd, 2018 at 6:31 pm

  38. I used to run one of these as a Carney in 1974, 75 and 76. I could get over in 4 pumps and used to bet large muscular boys! I would put them in push them, then jump in mine and beat them over the top. I would have their girlfriends hold our money………to embarrassed to argue, good times. Let me know if you have one for sale!!

    Amos - October 27th, 2018 at 7:59 am

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