When Olathe Medical Center did a community health needs assessment in 2012, it found that folks wanted ways to reduce obesity. The Johnson County Park and Recreation Department came to them with the idea of an outdoor fitness park, and both organizations saw a way to help.
The park, which opened June 5 in Heritage Park in Olathe, features various pieces of exercise equipment, including two cardio-steppers, a pull-up bar, a push-up bar, a squat press station, a chest and back press machine, an ab crunch and leg lift bench and more.
The two stair-steppers are side by side to encourage people who exercise with a buddy to come and try out the fitness park as well.
When you use the machines in combination, the idea is that you can get a full body workout.
“The idea, in general, was to provide both strength-related equipment as well as anaerobic and aerobic options,” said Mike Jensen, Olathe Health System vice president of marketing and external affairs. “It has both strength and cardiovascular (exercises) as well as muscle training.”
There is no direct supervision at park — the exercise program is entirely self-guided. Each piece of equipment has a placard with suggested exercises for people 13 years and older.
“The great thing is that it really lends itself to a beginner, intermediate or higher level fitness enthusiast,” said Jill Leiker, corporate and community wellness manager for Johnson County Park and Recreation District. “When I was out there on a Saturday, there was a personal trainer out there trying the equipment there so she could bring people (to use it.)”
Leiker got the idea for the park when she noticed some similar equipment near the Country Club Plaza and thought it would be a great addition to Heritage Park.
The county provided the park area, and Olathe Medical Center paid the $45,000 to construct it.
“What caught my attention is that it was people of all ages, young kids all the way up to retirement age people trying things out,” Jensen said. “They were very excited about it. That they could have a nice view of the (Heritage Park) lake while they were on the exercise equipment was very appealing too.”
The hospital is already starting on its next community needs assessment, which is required every three years by the Affordable Care Act.
Since the park is outside, the organizations specifically chose equipment that could withstand the heat, cold and precipitation of Kansas weather.
The installers “have some of these pieces that have been installed for 15 years. There are minimal moving pieces and the pieces that are moving are very sturdy and weather-resistant,” Leiker said. “It’s very similar to playground equipment.”
The fitness park will be available any time Heritage Park is open throughout the year.
Leiker said she thought the department would get requests for fitness equipment at other county parks too. To do that, she said, each park would need a sponsor to pay for the equipment and construction.
“People are happy to (exercise) in the great outdoors. You don’t have to be in a fitness center,” she said.