The convenience of exercising in the park

TWhen I was hiking in a certain park in my hometown of Los Angeles, a special feeling of Corney Comba came over me. I see people of all body types, races, ages and other varied factors walking and running and going out together in the fresh air. It makes me feel grateful for the place I live, the strength of my own body, the diversity of my colleague Angelinos all working together for health, and the availability of natural beauty, including a place to exercise in the middle of the city.

It turns out I’m not alone. Public spaces, especially those that become community gatherings for exercise, are a key element in creating the kind of connected communities that make for both healthy, resilient people and those around them.

“When you think about the benefits of the park and how they are deposited with people, you think about your physical, mental health, well-being and things like that,” said Kimberly Baroes, a researcher at the Urban Institute. “But there are also communal benefits in the vicinity of social health and environmental health.”

“Social health” is the official name of the feeling I get when I cut out the benefits of exercising in the park, as Burroughs describes. Please. ” Research shows that people thrive in cities with diversity and social health.

But these benefits don’t just happen through the development of some new green space. Making the parks accessible to people of all ages and abilities is crucial, Burrows said.

Access can be achieved in a variety of ways. Makes the park structure wheelchair-friendly, places parks in communities of all income levels, makes programming free and affordable, and ensures police presence so that people do not feel monitored or unsafe.

“All of these parks go back to equity and make sure the park we’re building, the structure we’re setting up, and the programming matches the needs of all users and communities,” Burrows says. “You’ll see that people come together as a community when they have a similar interest in programming or using certain types of fitness equipment, or the general use of space in a way that they’ve thought about using it before.”

An organization called Fitlot is pushing the idea of ​​gyms in public parks. Over the past several years, it has worked with local government and community organizations to establish accessible gym structures in 53 parks across the country, and many more are in the pipeline. Adam Majerson started Fitlot in the context of Hurricane Katrina, as a way to revive damaged communities.

“We really did what we could to lift the walls of the gym and make it free and to make it possible for people to sign up for a free class and maybe to meet some of their neighbors and have the opportunity to practice with an instructor. They have neighborhoods around, “Mejerson said.” So I think that part is creating more comfortable opportunities for people to try something they really want to learn. “

According to Burrowes, FitLot’s core story fits the broader description of public spaces that could serve as sanctuaries for the people they serve, as parks are literally associated with helping communities in storm weather before, during and after natural disasters. There is also evidence that outdoor gyms in particular are “places where community-dwellers can find social connections while participating in structured physical activity at no cost,” a review of outdoor gym literature found.

Fitlot
Photo: Fitlot

To show you how a gym works in the park, FitLots host group fitness classes that accommodate all fitness and fitness levels and take the QR codes on the equipment to people’s links where they can learn how to use different pieces, most of which are compatible so people can Can personalize the experience. “And in our programs and classes, 17-year-olds and 70-year-olds will take the same classes,” Majerson said. “Someone can work in a restaurant and someone else can run a company and for those hours, they’re all exercising together. It’s really fun to watch.”

Majerson stressed that he is one of the many stakeholders in this space. And there are other organizations that are working on the same end through outdoor gyms, such as Greenfields Outdoor Fitness. “To me these parks are actually like a big welcome flag,” he says.

This is a sentiment supported by Jill Moore, a drama specialist who is involved in landscape structure, the organization that creates the framework for Fitlot. “Creating a space that includes saying, ‘We want you there,'” he says “We want to invite you, and we think you have something to offer.”

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