Jay Clark knows he’s not a fitness expert, but that doesn’t mean he can’t use Seymour’s new outdoor fitness court.
On Friday morning, the 51-year-old showed up in shorts and an Indiana Pacers T-shirt to learn more about the exercise equipment and to try it out.
He wasn’t alone.
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Around 100 people from the community attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the facility, including a large group of students from St. Ambrose Catholic School, city employees, representatives from Schneck Medical Center and others.
“I like to support local events and try to go to them if I can,” Clark said. “I think it’s great the city is trying something new, and I hope people get a lot of use out of this and appreciate it.”
The court is part of the new Crossroads Community Park in downtown Seymour.
Standing to the side, Mayor Craig Luedeman said with the fitness court and park complete, people are able to see the vision of a better Seymour.
“This is the grander vision of what we see for Seymour as far as fitness,” Luedeman said.
The plan is to extend the walking trail from the park toward Cummins Seymour Engine Plant to connect it with new sidewalks and bike paths along Fourth Street leading to Burkart Boulevard.
“If you don’t build it, people won’t come,” he said. “You have to give people the opportunity.”
Seymour’s fitness court is only the third one in the state, with one in Mishawaka and the other in Greenfield.
Clark described it as “beautiful.”
“I’ve actually come up here a couple of times already. It’s great because it’s for all ages,” he said. “You can make your workout as easy or as hard as you want.”
The court is available for people to use at no cost and is open during regular park hours from 5 a.m. to midnight year-round.
Many people stayed after the ribbon cutting to take part in a fitness challenge, completing all seven exercise stations to earn a free water bottle.
The seven exercises are core, squat, push, lunge, pull, agility and bend. There are graphics that illustrate how to use the equipment, and people can download the Fitness Court App on their phones for video tutorials, workouts and challenges.
Ben Wisler of Fitness 1440 walked participants through the different exercises, explaining that there are literally thousands of variations they could do at each station.
St. Ambrose students John Mattull, 10, and Patty Landa, 13, both made it through all seven stations.
Mattull said he would like to visit the fitness court again.
“I want to come back this weekend, but I realized I’ll be in Florida,” he said. “But I guess I can come back some other time.”
The most difficult station was pulling, he said.
“I can’t really lift my body weight yet,” he said.
Landa said she was surprised at how much fun she was having using the equipment with her friends.
“If I have the chance, I would definitely like to come do it again,” she said. “It’s actually a lot of fun.”
Although the fitness court is available to all, it is recommended for those 14 years of age and older. Anyone younger should have an adult supervising.
The $90,000 fitness court was paid for through funding from the Schneck Foundation, Seymour Rotary Club and Healthy Jackson County with support from the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department and the National Fitness Challenge.
Bob Tabeling, director of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, said the project started in May 2017. He thanked all of the sponsors for continuing to look at the health and well-being of the citizens of Jackson County and making it a priority for the community.
“This is a small piece of it,” he said.
Arann Banks, president of the Seymour Rotary Club, said the city is fortunate to be able to have amenities like the fitness court.
“We are fortunate that we can pull off projects like this, but it does take a really concentrated collaboration, and we do appreciate all that,” she said.
Rexanne Ude, executive director of the Schneck Foundation, said oftentimes, people think the hospital is just there to treat patients who come through their doors, but that’s not the hospital’s only mission and purpose.
“Schneck Medical Center has a much larger vision of what we need to be doing,” she said. “Our mission is to improve the health of our communities, and this can be a part of that.”
Ude said the fitness court is an opportunity for people to be physical and advance the health of the community.
“Look around, there is some excitement, there is some energy and we’re glad to be a part of it,” she said.