The city of Madison Heights will be installing its own Fitness Court, like this one in San Francisco, at Huffman Park this summer. The outdoor exercise facilities are designed and partially funded by the National Fitness Campaign. The Madison Heights one will be cosponsored by Priority Health.

The city of Madison Heights will be installing its own Fitness Court, like this one in San Francisco, at Huffman Park this summer. The outdoor exercise facilities are designed and partially funded by the National Fitness Campaign. The Madison Heights one will be cosponsored by Priority Health.

Photo provided by National Fitness Campaign


‘Fitness Court’ coming to Huffman Park

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published April 25, 2021

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MADISON HEIGHTS — The city of Madison Heights plans to install an outdoor exercise facility this summer at Huffman Park, with more than 30 pieces of equipment for residents and guests to use, and community classes to be led by trained ambassadors.

The facility, called the Fitness Court, is part of an initiative by the National Fitness Campaign, a nationwide consulting organization that partners with cities and schools to plan, build and fund infrastructure that improves the health of community members. The facility is also made possible by sponsor Priority Health.

The city of Madison Heights was selected from hundreds of applicants around the country to be awarded a $50,000 grant for the Fitness Court. The city is contributing a $50,000 match, and donors are being lined up for another $50,000, covering the overall cost of $150,000.

Madison Heights City Manager Melissa Marsh said she was tipped off to the grant opportunity by resident Stephanie Sawicki.

“I have a personal passion for fitness and am very excited to bring this program and equipment to the residents of Madison Heights,” Marsh said in an email.

Installation is planned for late May or June. Huffman Park is located at 400 W. Cowan Ave., south of 11 Mile Road and west of John R Road.

There will be seven stations in the Fitness Court, themed around different types of exercise. Each will feature a variety of equipment. The seven stations include core exercises, squats, pushups, lunges, pull-ups, agility training and bends.  

The facility is billed as an “open-air wellness center” that aims to provide a complete workout for people of all shapes and sizes. There will also be a free app that people can download for their iOS and Android devices that will help guide their workout routines. And the app won’t be the only way to get expert instruction.

“This is far more than just equipment,” Marsh said. “The unique part of this project is the community engagement. National Fitness looks for ambassadors within the community to be trained to run free classes at the site. This helps to facilitate the growth of a healthy Madison Heights.”

The National Fitness Campaign will provide a range of training tools to its ambassadors, including programming through the app, regional hands-on training camps, and a community forum for continued engagement and support. The city is already in the process of seeking ambassadors, who will be trained remotely or in person by certified National Fitness Campaign staff.

The goal of the nationwide campaign is to install Fitness Courts in 1,000 cities and school systems by the end of next year, reaching millions of people across the country.

For the city of Madison Heights, the addition of the Fitness Court will be just the latest example of a changing landscape where outdoor spaces are being transformed into destination attractions.

Other recent examples include the upcoming tranquility playscape on the grounds of the Madison Heights Public Library, funded by another national nonprofit, KABOOM! That project will be completed by this winter and will feature a variety of interactive elements on the lawn of the library, located at 240 W. 13 Mile Road. The city also now has two outdoor murals — one at Rosie’s Park and another at Civic Center Park — and a new playscape at Wildwood Park features numerous accessibility features, making it well-suited for children of all ability levels.

“Throughout the strategic planning process, we have been able to align the city budget and operations with community priorities. This allows us to quickly react when we see outside funding opportunities such as this program with (the National Fitness Campaign) and Priority Health, and the KABOOM! grant that are in line with our vision for the future,” Marsh said. “We are dedicated to bringing exciting quality-of-life enhancements to the city, especially when we can use outside funding to enhance programs and offerings.”

Members of the Madison Heights City Council shared their thoughts in a series of emails.

“The Fitness Court is a really terrific exercise offering the city can provide our residents that is relatively easy to maintain and beneficial for all people of all ages,” said Madison Heights City Councilman Robert Corbett. “What’s really nice about it is that many, if not all of the stations are easily accessible for individuals of all physical capabilities and ages.

“The city manager and staff deserve a round of applause for identifying these funding opportunities and pursuing it aggressively for all the residents of our city,” he continued. “And what’s nice is, because of a partial grant funding, it’s something that doesn’t conflict or compete with other programming for precious dollars in our city budget. Really, it’s win-win for everybody!”

Madison Heights City Councilman Mark Bliss said the Fitness Court fulfills a wish he has heard from residents in the past.

“When (City Councilmember Emily) Rohrbach and I did our town hall on quality-of-life initiatives, a fitness-themed park amenity was brought up by residents of all ages as a way that we can drive some added excitement into our parks system. That’s why we included it in our ‘5-5-5 Plan’ of quality-of-life initiatives to do within five years,” Bliss said. “I’m thrilled that we were not only able to complete it earlier than planned, but we were able to leverage grant money that allows us to stretch our budget, and hopefully complete more of those ‘5-5-5 Plan’ initiatives.

“Our parks system is just that — a system,” Bliss said. “Parks aren’t supposed to be identical, but instead have unique amenities that fit the location and fill a need that hasn’t been covered at our other parks. That’s why converting an underutilized basketball court that was desperately in need of repairs into our city’s first Fitness Court is so appealing. Not only will it be great for all of the residents within walking distance, it will also be a great destination for residents looking for that type of activity.”

Madison Heights Mayor Roslyn Grafstein said that attractions like the murals, play areas and Fitness Court are place-making opportunities that attract people to the city and generate foot traffic for local businesses.

“As well, increasing the walkability of our neighborhoods helps improve the sense of safety and community in the area,” Grafstein said. “I am thrilled that we were able to apply for and receive funding for the Fitness Court with such a short turnaround time. … We are still seeking sponsorship for the remainder of the funds, and I am confident businesses in the area will want to contribute to this permanent structure that will be used by residents and visitors for years to come.”

She said that businesses looking to sponsor the Fitness Court can contact her via email at roslyngrafstein@madison-heights.org or by calling (248) 716-4723.

For more information on the National Fitness Campaign, visit nationfitnesscampaign.com.

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