Making Fitness a Walk in the Park

For pictures, scroll through the gallery above. Photos by Baktaash Sorkhabi.

Do not underestimate the power of the fitness loop.

In a series of expanded efforts to increase physical activity and recreation throughout North Long Beach, one of the most marginalized areas of the city in regard to park and healthy food accessibility, the City’s Health Department has decided to focus on the Northside’s parks. This isn’t to mention that it is home to a third of the city’s liquor stores—not exactly the epitome of health (but former Councilmember Steve Neal and current 9th District Councilmember Rex Richardson are working on that).

Pairing with local nonprofit City Fabrick as well as the Coalition for a Healthy North Long Beach the Health Department has developed “a temporary intervention in Houghton Park that repurposes the park’s walking path network into a fitness loop.”

Fitness paths/loops are nothing new—NYC is home to 17 fitness paths alone—as they are ways that encourage people to easily track miles walked/ran while providing them a pathway that goes beyond the redundant sidewalk runs.

By using smile-inducing graphics and smart phone apps, the newly minted Houghton Park Fitness Loop provides instructions for participants to learn how to do simple exercises along a roughly half-mile loop in the park. Looking much like a cross-fit Mario (and Luigi should you bring a friend), patrons of Houghton are told to traverse the pathway while doing high kicks, sidesteps, and some other kung-fu-fitness moves that will make you sport a Sub Zero outfit next time you come.

The temporary loop, while hopefully increase pedestrian activity in general, will be closely monitored to see precisely how users use it, making way for an eventual permanent fitness loop with outdoor exercise equipment. City Fabrick used “an intensive collaborative design process with community stakeholders and staff in order to develop an environmental graphic program that balances visibility and visual interest while not being distracting to other uses within the park, including nature. The pallet and design of the fitness loop signage is intended to allow easy replication in other parks in the city and is currently being considered for other locations.”

“We are pleased that the collaboration between community members, City Fabrick, and the city has resulted in a project that will make it easier for residents to be physically active in their own neighborhood,” said Susan Price of the City’s Department of Health and Human Services.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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