June 28, 2011

Outdoor fitness area opening in Elmwood Park

by Staff, Douglas County Health Department

The City of Omaha welcomes the first of its kind outdoor fitness area, opening in Elmwood Park on Wednesday, June 29.

“The vision for the park is to encourage and promote healthy, active lifestyles for all age groups and levels of fitness by creating a safe, fun and functional atmosphere within the community,” said Michaela Schenkelberg, a University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) May graduate and visionary behind the fitness park.

Elmwood Fitness Park serves as a place where people who may be intimidated by indoor gyms can come and test out the equipment at no cost, in a nice environment, Schenkelberg said.

Elmwood Fitness Park is also adjacent to the park’s playground, creating a unique opportunity for parents to exercise while supervising their children on the playground.

“Because children are so great at mimicking adult behavior, we hope that by seeing their parents exercising, children will become inspired to be active young adults later in life,” Schenkelberg said.

The park initially began as a hypothetical project for Schenkelberg in one of her health education classes at UNO.

After in-depth research, Schenkelberg and two other UNO graduates Emily Casne and April Proskovec began work on the project under the supervision of Dr. John Noble and Dr. David Corbin. Two years later, Elmwood Fitness Park became a reality. The project is also supported by the UNO Service-Learning Academy.

“I selected the project because it seemed like a great concept and parks like these were developing in other areas around the world,” Schenkelberg said. “After doing some research, I decided my group should try to make this truly happen.”

The park includes eight pieces of exercise equipment, including: a wheelchair-accessible multi-gym; a rowing machine; a sit-up bench; stretching bars; a double leg press; two elliptical machines; and a shoulder press/pull-down combo machine.

The equipment uses each person’s body weight to determine the resistance, rather than using weights. The equipment comes from TriActive America.

Elmwood Fitness Park will be open to the public year-round, during standard park hours and is always free. The equipment is designed to withstand the weather and little-to-no maintenance is required, Schenkelberg said.

The project was made possible by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, UNO, City of Omaha Parks and Recreation and the Omaha Parks Foundation. Craig Larson, Olsson Associates landscape architect, designed the park. Kiewit donated the cement and curbing for the park.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $40,000 and has been privately funded by participating organizations.

Active Living


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