A ‘Pocket Health club’ Enhances Out of doors Health Trails


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A pocket gym in Shippensburg.

With the return of decent spring weather and ongoing concerns about COVID-19, outdoor recreation areas, particularly rail tracks, continue to be a popular choice for people.

Based in Newtown Square, General Recreation has the expertise to help communities maximize the benefits of these trails.

Playground consultant Steve Hemler has worked with places like Shippensburg Township to help them meet demand for outdoor exercise opportunities with social distancing along the trail.

“Even before the pandemic, we observed runners and cyclists stretching out on the curbs along the railroad parking lot,” recalled Doris Asper, Shippensburg’s assistant manager of parks. “We thought what if we created a dedicated space for people to warm up, cool down and actually work out?”

The concept is similar to that of a pocket park, an urban green space used for small events, plays and lunch breaks.

Steve envisioned a “pocket gym” that would provide a small cluster of exercise machines at various points along a trail to enhance the recovery experience.

Doris and her team worked with Steve to select a range of Landscape Structures HealthBeatⓇ exercise components. They were looking for equipment that would be durable, easy to clean, non-intimidating, and accessible to teens and adults with a range of exercise skills.

“Working with Steve was a dream,” says Doris. “He never made us feel like we were going to push him with our questions. Steve was very responsive and followed everything.”

Steve designed a walkway with exercise stations including a walkway and stairway; tai chi wheels; a jumping touch; a stretch structure for upper body and core, dips and pull-ups; and assisted rowing and push-up components.

The fitness area was conveniently located at the park’s north entrance, parking lot, and train platform, with a gazebo and restrooms nearby.

“We are impressed by the quality of the devices. The gold color really makes it stand out and complements the natural setting,” says Doris. “Furthermore, the equipment is easy to disinfect.”

The installation involved ordering several stationary hand sanitizers for key areas throughout the park, including one for the fitness area.

The “Pocket Gym” opened in October 2020 to an enthusiastic community.

“Our residents used it immediately,” says Doris. “We look forward to further improvements, particularly ADA-accessible projects in the future.”

“It’s been fun working with a community that is forward-thinking and sensitive to their changing needs,” says Steve.

In his experience, fitness stations can not only be easily integrated into rural railway lines, but also into urban trail systems, ball field complexes or next to playgrounds.

It’s an economical, safe, and socially distanced exercise option. If residents are already following the path, they can easily incorporate the HealthBeat circuit into their daily routine,” explains Steve. “The community can reap the benefits of physical fitness without a costly investment.”

To learn more about designing a fitness trail for your community, contact your local General Recreation Playground Consultant at 800-726-4793 or [email protected]

Learn more about fitness areas at General Recreation.

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