Tuesday, June 12, 2018 1:00 am
Mishawaka residents eager to give outdoor gym a shot
JOSEPH DITS | South Bend Tribune
MISHAWAKA – A sweaty Peter Mugetha finished his lunchtime run of 2.8 miles at Central Park without knowing that a small gym was rising a few feet from his truck.
The city's Central Services crew is piecing together a wall, bars and rings that will become part of an outdoor fitness court with 30 individual pieces of exercise equipment.
“Wow, that's good – you need a lot of them here,” Mugetha said Thursday after a reporter informed him. Since he's a registered nurse who works with dialysis patients, he said, “I know what we're dealing with – a lack of exercise and poor diet.”
Opening day is scheduled for June 23, when representatives of the National Fitness Campaign, who is selling the equipment to the city, will give public demonstrations on how to do the exercises. The primary guide for anybody will be an app (requiring an iOS of 8.0 or higher) that you can download at nationalfitnesscampaign.com.
The San Francisco-based company also will certify staff from the city fire and police departments and the local Fleet Feet Sports store to lead free weekly fitness classes at the court on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, said Mishawaka parks Superintendent Phil Blasko.
The court is the result of a crowd-sourcing campaign where the city raised $43,170 from 88 donors this winter via Patronicity.com, to match $35,000 from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The extra $8,170 raised will go toward providing free Wi-Fi at the fitness court, saving app users on data usage, Blasko said.
It's at the southeast end of the park, close to the fish ladder, with a view of the dam on the St. Joseph River.
A contractor will pour the soft, rubberized surface Wednesday, which will need two to three days to set, said Central Services Director Tim Ryan. It will be critical that public stay off of the surface during that time, he said, or risk costly damage.
After that, city crews will install the remaining pieces of exercise equipment, Ryan said.
Blasko said the court will provide a full-body workout and, since it will be freely accessible, he called it a “free fitness membership.” Rather than lift weights, users will use their own body weight for strength training as they do seven key moves like squats, pushes, lunges, pulls and bends.
The impetus for the court, he said, came when the National Fitness Campaign solicited the city, seeing the growth of the riverfront trail and amenities at Central Park.
“We have such a captive audience here,” Blasko said of the busy park as several kids squealed under the large splash pad and as people rested under shelters. “We want to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Mugetha, who once ran marathons and now does up to 7-mile runs weekly from Central Park, said he normally does calisthenics and might try the new court.
So did Jess Dunnette, a twice-a-week visitor to the park who wandered by with her 1-year-old son in a stroller and her almost 5-year-old daughter.
Deb Kuhn pushed her 39-year-old son, Michael, in a wheelchair and, also surprised at what the court will offer, said they may visit the park more often after it opens. They'd moved a few months ago from Florida to South Bend, where they and her husband rent an apartment in The LaSalle.
“It'll be good for him to stretch his back,” she said of her son, noting that he currently does the same at a local gym. She normally uses a transfer belt to aid Michael in and out of the equipment. “It'll be nice to do it outside.”