0

Getting an open-air workout

cathy.higgins@albanyherald.com
Derrell Smith, Albany Recreation and Parks Department deputy director, works on his upper-body strength on the new 10-stop course, which includes a 1/10th-mile walking trail.

cathy.higgins@albanyherald.com Derrell Smith, Albany Recreation and Parks Department deputy director, works on his upper-body strength on the new 10-stop course, which includes a 1/10th-mile walking trail.

ALBANY -- From children and teenagers to adults in their 20s, 30s or 40s, fitness is an ever increasing concern in the Good Life City.

Albany's senior citizens are no different.

To help the 50-and-over residents keep in shape, the Albany Recreation and Parks Department has an outdoor fitness trail available.

Designed for older, active adults, the trail is located at Jackson Heights Fitness and Wellness Center, located at 1100 North Jordan St. and can be accessed until the adjacent C.W. Heath Park closes at dusk each day.

The facility includes 10 stations peppered along a 1/10th-mile paved walking path.

Each of the stations is intended to help seniors work out a different part of the body, such as the upper-body stretch and strengthening machine.

Plus, there are stations designed to address specific needs of senior citizens, including fall-prevention exercises for legs.

According to Bob Takash, Albany Recreation and Parks Department planner, the stations don't fall short on the fitness factor just because they're geared toward Albany's older generation.

"You can get a workout," he said in a recent interview at the trail.

Mobility isn't a factor, either, as each station features handicap-accessible equipment.

Plus, participants don't have to stick to one exercise regimen. Instead, they can alternate which or how many exercise machines they use each time they visit.

"You can start at any of them," Albany Recreation and Parks Department Executive Director Suzanne Davis said.

For motivation, each station is posted with inspirational words from the likes of Henry James and Wally "Famous" Amos.

According to Davis, the trail is the answer to an ever-increasing problem.

"Obesity is an issue," she said. "Not just in Albany, but throughout the country. We wanted to address it with a fun atmosphere."

To do that, Davis pointed out, the Fit-Trail system specializes in bringing workouts into the open air.

"It's made specifically for the outdoors," she said.

Plus, Davis explained, the trail is safe to use as it is in compliance with the National Playground Safety standards, which implement measures to reduce injury in public parks and playgrounds throughout the United states.

Installed in July, the system is an addition to the pre-existing Fitness and Wellness Center at Jackson Heights, which sports a fully-equipped exercise facility at no charge to participants.

Davis believes the outdoor trail will get plenty of use in the coming months, since the indoor facility has a lot of traffic.

"The center sees 1,000-1,200 people a month," she said.

According to Davis, the fitness trail is a project that took some planning.

"It was a seven- or eight-month process," she said.

That was after the idea to add the system formulated in 2007.

"This is actually part of our SPLOST Five improvement plan," Davis said of the $45,000 project, which is one of several improvement plans for Albany parks.

It's a plan that Davis believes to be unique to the region.

"The best we know, we're the only ones south of Macon with anything like this," she said.

But it could just be the first such system for Albany.

"Bob is looking at another one of these for kids," Davis said, adding that a park hasn't yet been picked for the possible addition.