Maybe the comparison is unavoidable, given that it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from the kids’ play area, but the new fitness court at Bill Briare Park sort of resembles a disassembled jungle gym for grown-up kids.
But it works, because the new amenity is designed to offer a gym-quality exercise circuit that’s effective, free and, most of all, fun for participants of all ages and abilities.
The court was dedicated Jan. 28. The National Fitness Campaign, which works to provide healthy outdoor infrastructure and promote healthy lifestyles, contributed funding for the new court and counts Las Vegas as the campaign’s 100th national partner.
It’s the campaign’s second fitness court in Nevada — the first opened at Henderson’s Cadence community in 2018 — and campaign founder Mitch Menaged says fitness courts represent the latest stage of evolution of the classic fitness trail, in which exercisers run or walk along a pathway and perform specific exercises or activities at each station. On a fitness court, participants work out in a smaller space, performing activities in a circuit training setting.
Social fitness vibe
Fitness courts have a smaller footprint than fitness trails, so they can be built even in small parks and urban spaces. Atmospherically, fitness courts offer a more social vibe than fitness trails do, which, Menaged says, is what today’s exercisers seek.
“Over time, we started to realize … people like doing things in groups. They like being social, they like meeting people, they like doing things together,” he says.
Fitness trails were “a big deal in the ’80s,” says Greg Weitzel, director of parks and recreation for the city of Las Vegas. But, in recent years, “you see less participation on them.”
The reasons include a preference for working out outdoors and in a group setting, Weitzel says. Users today also like workouts to be programmed, which, at Las Vegas’ new court, can take the form of either on-site instructors during limited hours or a free smartphone app that guides users in navigating its features.
The fitness court at Bill Briare Park, 650 N. Tenaya Way, consists of stations dedicated to core strength and agility, and activities such as squatting , pushing, lunging, pulling and bending .
“What’s great about this court is it’s all ability levels,” trainer Andrea Anzalone says.
‘And it’s free’
Menaged says the workout also is “a very carefully thought-out system that’s designed to be as good as Peloton,” but “designed for everybody, and it’s free.”
Malig Williams lives about a mile from Bill Briare Park and stops by several days a week to run on its trails. He discovered the new fitness court before it officially opened.
The initial draw was “just the way it looks,” he says. “It looks very professional.”
Then he began experimenting with the equipment and liked what he saw.
“I’m 42. I’ve been training since I was 19,” he says. “I’m from Hawaii and we did triathlons. So I’ve been working out a long time.”
He prefers not working out in a gym “because it’s too distracting,” and called the fitness court “better than a gym.”
While the app is available for use anytime, trainers are scheduled to be at the park at 9 a.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Those times likely will change as summer approaches.
“Anybody who works out in a gym would appreciate this outdoor fitness court,” Weitzel says. “Not only is it free,” he says, “it’s all about connecting.”