Free outdoor fitness courts encourage people to get active

Judith J. Mercado

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The Priority Health Fitness Court, located just outside of the Oakland University Recreation Center, is available to all, free of charge.

 The outdoor fitness court at Huron Park in Roseville offers a full-body,  seven-minute workout.

The outdoor fitness court at Huron Park in Roseville offers a full-body, seven-minute workout.

Photo provided by The Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe

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METRO DETROIT — After a long, cold winter, Michiganders jump at the chance to do anything outside — including their workouts.

With spring just around the corner, people of all ages and abilities can explore a number of free outdoor fitness centers to keep moving.

The cities of Rochester and Rochester Hills are home to many outdoor fitness courts — at Bloomer Park, Oakland University and the Older Persons’ Commission.

The city of Rochester Hills opened its first outdoor multi-generational activity area inside Bloomer Park in 2018, thanks to a grant from the AARP Community Challenge grant program.

“It has been popular,” Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said.

Designed for ages 50 and older, the space features outdoor fitness equipment to facilitate assisted squats, pull-ups and push-ups; cardiovascular endurance; leg lifts; ankle push-ups; and basic stretching exercises. The equipment was designed to focus on stretching, flexibility, mobility and safety, which are all proven to be critical in maintaining good physical health, muscle coordination and strength for older adults, according to city officials. The senior-focused activity area — which was placed near the pavilion and restrooms closest to the big wooden stairs — was specifically selected to be easily accessible for seniors. There is ample nearby parking, paved paths, benches, a grilling and picnic area, and a large children’s playground adjacent to the space to allow kids, parents and grandparents to enjoy the park simultaneously.

“Grandparents and parents can do their exercises while kids do theirs,” said Barnett.

Bloomer Park, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk, is located at 345 John R Road in Rochester Hills. Use of the activity area is free with park entry.

In the summer of 2019, Oakland University, with the National Fitness Campaign, became the first university in Michigan to open an outdoor fitness center.

“Anytime there’s nice weather out, as soon as the spring hits, the past couple of years we’ve seen people on it almost immediately,” said Hailey Forbes, OU’s fitness programs and services coordinator. “I think people really understand the big draw of exercising in the sun.”

The OU campus’s “Priority Health Fitness Court,” located just outside of the OU Recreation Center, is a free outdoor circuit training facility available to students, faculty, staff and members of the community ages 14 and older. The court — easily accessible to bicyclists, runners and people visiting the campus — is a 35-by-32-foot outdoor space featuring shock-resistant sports flooring that allows for up to 28 individuals to use the court at the same time. The recommended workout includes seven movements that can be done in seven minutes: 45 seconds of full-body exercise separated by 15 seconds of rest. Users can also download the free Fitness Court app to work out on their own, track usage, receive exercise tips and more.

“We’ve definitely seen a variety of people using it,” Forbes added.

The Older Persons’ Commission opened its outdoor adult fitness center in late 2019, thanks to a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Funds of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. An outdoor exercise park with a cushioned and smooth surface on the building premises, OPC officials said, allows low-mobility seniors access to fresh air and engaging exercise. Located on the lower level of the OPC, the outdoor fit park contains six stations of equipment — chest presses, double ellipticals, sit-up benches, captain’s chairs and other cardio and strength devices — which allows for both casual usage as well as circuit training. Each piece of equipment is Americans with Disabilities Act accessible, low impact and provides modified exercises for individuals at any level seeking to better their health.

The Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe, the city of Roseville, and the National Fitness Campaign unveiled an outdoor fitness court at Huron Park, located at the intersection of Kelly and Frazho roads in Roseville, in the fall of 2019. The fitness court offers a full-body, seven-minute workout that can be completed alone or in a group. The equipment facilitates core exercises, squats, pullups, pushups and lunges, and it even has agility stations.

“The workout is based on your own body weight,” said Tony Lipinski, the executive director of the Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe.

The court features picture diagrams and an app to walk you through the steps and stations, so it is designed to be used without supervision.

“It is popular. … We see people there every day, even in the winter. As long as there is no snow, people will go out and work out there,” Lipinski added.

For more information about Bloomer Park, 345 John R Road in Rochester, call (248) 656-4753 or visit www.rochesterhills.org/Bloomer. For more information about Oakland University, 318 Meadow Brook Road in Rochester, call (248) 370-2100. For more information on the OPC, 650 Letica Drive in Rochester, visit www.opc seniorcenter.org. For information about the Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe, visit rare-mi.org.

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