Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park
By Dave Ramont
Exercising is great for mind and body, and spending time outside also provides many physical and mental benefits. And now, more and more places are offering the opportunity for people to move their workouts into the great outdoors. Park districts, schools, hospitals, resorts and military bases all over are opening outdoor fitness parks.
Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles, Ill., recently joined the trend—holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 25 to christen a new outdoor exercise facility. The park district had been awarded a funding grant from Greenfields Outdoor Fitness, a leading provider of outdoor fitness products.
"We applied for the Greenfields grant last fall and were awarded 50 percent off the purchase of the equipment. The park district paid for the concrete pad and 50 percent of the equipment," said Laura Rudow, superintendent of parks and planning at the St. Charles Park District.
Rudow said that their goal was to help an underserved segment of the population—a goal shared by Greenfields—since the fitness park is free. "The park district already hosts several programs with our partner Fox Valley Special Recreation Association for both children and adults, and these workout stations will be ideal for people who are unlikely to have a gym membership."
The park features eight resistance-based exercise stations, which provide a full-body workout, focusing on strength training, balance and agility, cardio and flexibility. There are chin-up bars and incline benches, a chest press, a lat pull station and a cross-country ski machine. The leg press focuses on calves and quadriceps, while the vertical press works arms and shoulders.
Each station is designed for two or more people, offering more bang for the buck by accommodating more users in the allotted space, while making it fun for friends and family who work out together. Plus, there are two playgrounds nearby, so parents can work out while their kids get their exercise and fresh air as well.
The equipment is virtually maintenance-free and requires no lubrication. Many of the fitness stations are wheelchair accessible, a big plus for physically or developmentally disabled individuals who don't have access to such fitness equipment. And the fitness park is located next to a biking and walking trail, so users can incorporate a fitness circuit into their walk or bike ride.
Rudow said that as part of the grant application, they had to let Greenfields know how it would be used and provide pictures of where it would be installed. They also used their pedestrian traffic numbers and current program participant numbers in the narrative. Since the fitness park is so new, there hasn't been a lot of feedback yet, according to Rudow, but she said that "As the staff was installing it, we had a lot of people stop and express their enthusiasm over the new amenity, saying they couldn't wait to try it out!"