Fitness Zones

Outdoor exercise areas give anyone free access to gym-style workout equipment

Sep. 23, 2015

Kids have playgrounds, but what about teens and grown-ups?

If they’re lucky, they have a Fitness Zone.

These outdoor exercise areas, with stationary bikes, pull-up bars, elliptical machines and more, give anyone free access to gym-style workout equipment.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) installed three Fitness Zones in Chattanooga, and has plans for three more.

“We were very intentional on the sites we selected,” says Jasmin Rippon, Tennessee TPL director.

“We mapped Chattanooga’s health data, looking at the areas with the highest rates of stroke, diabetes, cancer — the top indicators of early death.

“Those were our priority areas, and we chose sites next to recreation centers, because we knew there would be staff who would bring people to the Fitness Zones and help them learn how to use  the equipment.”

The East Lake Fitness Zone, part of TPL’s Parks for People program, draws about 50 people each day, including 13-year-old Richard Walker.

Though confined to a wheelchair due to spina bifida, he always finds a way to be active and independent.

“He uses the Fitness Zone to help him build his upper body strength,” says his mother, Jacqueline.

“And it gives him a place to hang out with his friends after school and just be a normal teenager.”

To learn more about outdoor fitness in Tennessee, click here.

Photos by Hollis Bennett.