Trail users might be able to make a fit stop in Utica, if plan advances

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 17, 2018

UTICA — Ever wanted to get a quick workout in on the way to or from work, or just during some free time? A new way to do so might be possible in Utica soon.

The Utica Downtown Development Authority discussed at its Dec. 13 meeting the possibility of bringing a fitness stop to its trails.

Residents or visitors could walk, drive or bike to a designated area and get in a quick workout at an outdoor fitness station.

During the meeting, Utica Mayor Thom Dionne showed a video and provided a link, nation alfitnesscampaign.com, to give a preview of what a fitness stop would look like.

“It would be the case that as (people) are coming through the trail, south of the trail, if you go slightly east, you would find Pioneer Park, and this area could be besides Pioneer Park, and they could get a quick circuit workout and head back up north through the trail,” Dionne said.

A fitness stop, or fitness court, could feature 30 individual pieces of equipment, a shock-resistant sports flooring and exercise stations that allow for up to 28 individuals to use the stop at the same time.

Users would harness their own body weight to do each workout, which could be completed in seven minutes. Each exercise would take 45 seconds, with a 15-second break in between sets.

National Fitness Campaign is the maker of the fitness stop being considered. The idea first arose from the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission at its Sept. 20 meeting.

According to the Parks and Recreation Commission master plan, Utica is committed to promoting and providing parks and recreational facilities, programs, and leisure opportunities for all residents. The city recognizes public health benefits and economic development opportunities could be realized through a network of parks, trails, open space, waterway access and recreation programming.

The fitness court would accommodate every skill level and ability, from beginner to expert. There would be no set workouts, though there would be an app that could be downloaded to plan and track each workout using the courts.

The app has how-to videos, the opportunity to personalize workouts, guided circuits and more run by personal trainers.

The court could be customized and have a colorful design made to withstand the weather. Reportedly the concept of fitness courts began in California in the late 1970s.

The concept is that the fitness court is outside and costs nothing. It is meant to encourage more working out and less driving.

“I went to the one in Port Austin, and it was like a semicircle, and it had about 15 stations, and everything was (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant so people in wheelchairs could use them. It was pretty cool. ... It was a good workout,” said Jon Panetta, a member of the Downtown Development Authority.

If the city goes through with the adoption of a fitness stop and is approved, it will receive a $30,000 grant from the National Fitness Campaign toward the project and will be required to match $30,000 from the city’s funding and to raise $30,000 more through fundraising.

“Other cities have done this, such as Mount Clemens; they did one for their kayak launch, and they raised about $60,000, so this wouldn’t be impossible. So the DDA would have to commit $30,000 matching from NationalFitnessCampaign.com, and we would also be responsible for raising funds,” Dionne said.

In 2019, there will be more than 200 cities that have partnered with the National Fitness Campaign.

The city has 14 days from Dec. 12 to decide whether it wants to complete the application. If it decides it doesn’t want to go through with it after the application, it can cancel.

For more information on the fitness stop, call the city of Utica at (586) 731-1600.