Case Study: An Outdoor Gym Designed to Engage People of All Ages and Abilities

Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park is a 231-acre Los Angeles City Park serving Wilmington and Harbor City areas as well as the South Bay region of California. The Park contains 40-acre Machado Lake, one of the last wetlands in Los Angeles, which also serves as a flood control retention basin during storm events. The park today is an amazing transformation from what it was 20 years ago, as it had become run down, faced pollution issues, and was not considered a family-friendly destination. Over the past decade, many efforts have been put into place to restore the park and its wildlife habitat, with funding for the project coming from a variety of sources. Lake Machado, which had been closed, was reopened in June 2017 following a three-year, $111 million restoration project. Today, Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park/Machado Lake is home to over 300 separate species of migratory birds. The lake is part of the natural water habitat of Southern California for native animals and plants, and the park features paved pathways, hiking and bike trails, nature deck, hundreds of additional trees, and new grass, pedestrian bridges, benches, and a large outdoor fitness area.

39597417201_46f604809b_k.jpg#asset:14349When the park decided to add fitness to the park, they knew that a multigenerational space was needed to help ensure that local families found the exercise options meaningful. They wanted to ensure that, while the fitness area would be designed for adults, that there was a family friendly area as well, so parents didn't have to worry about finding a caregiver to watch their children when they wanted to work out. They also wanted to be sure that the space made sense for athletes at all levels of fitness, from beginners to competitive level. With funding from Kaiser Permanente in place, the team worked with GameTime to fulfill their vision of a fitness and play area for people of all abilities. The resulting area is a model fitness environment, as well as a PlayCore National Demonstration site for fitness.

To help expand the park's capabilities, Kaiser Permanente Southern California awarded the Los Angeles Parks Foundation a $95,000 community benefit grant to contribute toward the exercise equipment. Additionally, Kaiser's South Bay Medical Center, located near the outdoor fitness park, agreed to provide popular fitness classes at the park. Kaiser Permanente's local community benefit program also granted the YMCA $10,000 to offer exercise classes at the park to encourage community organizations to utilize the space and expand exercise programming.

Barbara  Carnes, MD, pediatrician and area medical director at Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center added "With the reopening of Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, we saw a real opportunity to support the health of our neighbors by installing fitness equipment that would appeal to all ages, and provide free fitness classes that would engage community members at every fitness level." The circuit is a comfortable space for adults of all ages and abilities to work out, with three separate adult fitness areas throughout the overall space, in addition to a playful climbing area that is fun and useful for both children and adults. The three fitness areas for adults include a therapeutic area, with a focus on rehabilitation, active aging, deconditioned users and balance and flexibility. The main fitness area contains a well-rounded selection of equipment that encompasses aerobic conditioning, muscle and core development, balance training, and flexibility exercises. This area provides users of all abilities the opportunity to work out in a gym-like atmosphere while enjoying the great outdoors, with exercises that suit all levels and abilities, as well as opportunities to utilize the equipment in new and more challenging ways as their fitness levels increase. The third area is a more advanced area, with a "muscle beach" like selection of bars, rings, and other upper body apparatus designed to promote grip, spatial awareness, and advanced athletic skill. Adjoining the three adult zones is an all age area, it is age appropriate for children, so they can play in a fitness-focused playful environment along with their adult family members.

38701505685_18c9f380ae_k.png#asset:14350The efforts have paid off. Since the park reopened, park attendance has increased more than 75 percent, according to city officials, and thousands enjoy the renovated park every week. A refreshing, cool breeze from the lake is a great complement to the variety of equipment to meet all strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training needs; and the option to participate in various exercise classes such as Zumba, boot camp and yoga, as well as bring the entire family, ensures that Harbor Regional Park will be a meaningful destination for years to come.

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