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South Salt Lake Journal

City, AARP, FitLot create exercise park geared to healthy aging

Dec 06, 2021 03:34PM ● By Bill Hardesty

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood welcomes invitees to the ribbon cutting for FitLot Park. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

On Oct. 21, South Salt Lake cut the ribbon on an extension of Bickley Park, north of the Columbus Center. The new extension is unique for two reasons. The first is its focus—a park designed to encourage healthy aging—and secondly, it's the only one in the state.

"Our city is always finding new ways to invest in people. Mental and physical health is a big challenge for many community members, and the pandemic made this especially acute. We knew one solution would be to encourage more outdoor fitness, and to our great pleasure, AARP and FitLot made this happen at just the right time. I couldn't be more thrilled to open the first FitLot in Utah and create an active space to foster healthy aging," said South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood.

FitLot’s focus

"It's really been the goal of my administration and my team to invest in people," Wood said, "and so that means providing recreational opportunities for all ages. So today is a FitLot Park for adults. So, we're super excited about this."

The focus of the FitLot Park is older adults, but any age group and ability can use the equipment. The Park is open anytime.

"A healthy and active senior community is a top priority of South Salt Lake, but the high cost of gyms, the Coronavirus pandemic, and lack of transportation often limit opportunities for seniors," Julie Taylor, communications and outreach manager, said. “This outdoor and free amenity helps residents build strength, stamina, and balance; spend time outdoors improving mood and overall well-being; and stay connected to neighbors and friends."

The Park has both moving and non-moving equipment. The non-moving equipment includes: pull-up bar, jump touch panel (measures vertical leap), vertical ladder (used to work on leg muscles. It is also used for arm and core exercises), plyometrics sheet (a jump box), ab cruncher/leg lift bench, chin-up bar, and dip parallel bars.

The moving items are: chest/back press, hand cycle, elliptical, and cardio stepper.

There are step-by-step instructions on each piece of equipment.

"This outdoor amenity is the perfect addition to our Bickley Park. We were so excited to design it as an all-ages, all-abilities playground and at last have a park next to our community center,'' said Sharen Hauri, South Salt Lake director of neighborhoods. "We sought to create a multigenerational playground, and the addition of a FitLot fully supports that vision. The center is a home base to a Promise SSL youth program, Head Start preschool and recreation leagues. It is another great way for parents, grandparents, and the whole community to stay active and spend time outdoors."

The $125,000 park's price tag was paid with grant money. AARP was a significant donor.

"When we first met with the City of South Salt Lake about nine months ago there was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy around this, and everybody just said, ‘Yes, yes, yes. Let's get it done. Let's figure it out,’" Alan Ormsby, state director of AARP Utah, said.

The AARP donation includes three years of programming which provides free fitness instruction classes at FitLot Park.

AARP and FitLot

"I'm so grateful that AARP has been thrilled over the last three years to build one of these FitLot in all 50 states and three territories. We do it because we love the community," Ormsby said.

AARP teamed up with FitLot in 2018. Their goal was to build an outdoor fitness park in each state and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With the opening of the South Salt Lake location, there are now at least one in each state.

According to the website, "FitLot was founded out of frustration by a father and son who simply couldn't understand why every neighborhood in America didn't have their own outdoor fitness park." 

Dr. Vadim Mejerson and his son, Adam, founded FitLot. It is a community health solution. The Mejersons believed FitLot Parks have "the power to improve the health and quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the country."

Landscape Structures became the exclusive supplier for FitLot in 2018. Each FitLot Park is approximately 1,400 square feet, like the size of a playground. They are shaded and have a safe surface.