Feature Article - September 2019
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Getting Fit in the Great Outdoors

Innovative Equipment to Expand Your Community of Wellness

By Deborah L. Vence

Moving Outdoors

Besides the transformed Simms Park, examples of parks with outdoor fitness equipment include an initiative in Bunkie, La., Spencer noted, called "Move Bunkie Forward." The initiative involves a fitness park that opened at Bunkie Park in late February 2018.

The Bunkie community was able to use a grant to bring fitness opportunities to the public at zero cost, and hosts several fitness classes each week, ranging from yoga to circuit training, with anywhere from 15 to 25 attendees at each session. The initiative in Bunkie, which has a population size of around 4,000, is bringing the community together and providing a fitness solution to those who may not have access to fitness otherwise.

Another example Spencer cited is Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, a 231-acre Los Angeles City Park.

When it was decided to add fitness at the park, it was a necessity to include a multigenerational space to help ensure that local families found the exercise options meaningful. They wanted to ensure that, while the fitness area would be designed for adults, that there was a family-friendly area as well, so parents didn't have to worry about finding a caregiver to watch their children when they wanted to work out. They also wanted to be sure that the space made sense for athletes at all levels of fitness, from beginners to competitive level.

"The circuit is a comfortable space for adults of all ages and abilities to work out, with three separate adult fitness areas throughout the overall space: a therapeutic area, with a focus on rehabilitation, a main area for aerobic conditioning, muscle and core development, balance training and flexibility exercises, and an advanced area with bars, rings and other upper-body apparatus designed to advanced athletic skill," Spencer said. "Adjoining the three adult zones is an all-age area with a focus on climbing. While adults also use this area, it is age-appropriate for children, so they can play in a fitness-focused playful environment along with their adult family members."

Colts Fitness Park at Riverside Park in Indianapolis is yet another example, Spencer noted. One element of the space is a 40-yard dash that includes a timer and scoreboard for each of the two running lanes, so that family members young and old can compete, test their running ability and receive excellent cardiovascular benefits along the way. What's more, "a challenge course, located next to the 40-yard dash is a fun, new way to get multigenerational exercise."

She noted that "based on elements from the growing sport of obstacle course racing, as well as ninja warrior and the NFL combine, the course is achievable for people of all fitness levels. Designed to promote balance, flexibility, grip strength, aerobic conditions and muscular/core development, the course provides a total body workout. Each obstacle is ability-based, with several ways to traverse so that people can constantly challenge themselves and improve performance and condition as they use the course."

A dedicated fitness area for adults is adjacent to this course, featuring various strength and conditioning equipment, "… giving people the opportunity to get a gym-quality workout in a free, outdoor arena," Spencer said. "The area is designed to bring together people of all ages and fitness levels and to encourage them to be more active together."