HUNTSVILLE — The partnership between the City of Huntsville and Arts Huntsville got a power lift from the National Fitness Campaign Thursday. Mayor Tommy Battle cut the ribbon on the first NFC Fitness Court with a public art installation at John Hunt Park near the cross-country course.
According to Jennifer Johnson, Public Art program manager at Arts Huntsville, John Hunt Park is the first of four new fitness courts, all with public art displays, to be installed across the city at Legacy Park, Apollo Park, and California Street Park.
“The best part of the program is that it brings art to a segment of the public that may not experience it otherwise,” she said. “The art experience in the park is not that different from art anywhere else and we are glad to extend its presence in other parts of the city.”
She also said they have selected three finalists for the art installation at Legacy Park and they will have an announcement about that soon.
The NFC is on a nationwide mission to install as many fitness courts as possible in or near parks across the U.S. They said fitness courts are accessible and designed for people of all abilities starting at age 14, letting users rotate through seven zones, leveraging their bodyweight at different angles and levels of resistance to improve their performance over time.
“People may be asking, ‘Where are the jungle gyms?’,” Mayor Battle mused. “But we are now in a new age where exercise equipment is replacing them with something just as fun. The NFC Fitness Court is a great concept where you can be inspired to exercise by the artwork of renowned artist (the late) Keith Haring.”
Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton said he is glad to celebrate a new piece of community infrastructure.
“Year in and year out, we are looking for opportunities to expand recreation and quality of life events for our citizens and in this case, it’s focused on individual physical fitness,” he said. “We are also always looking for opportunities to bring more art to our community. The fitness court became an example of that… When those two things merged together into a single installation, it was certainly a new idea to us, and one that fit perfectly with our strategy, so we jumped at the opportunity.”
Parks & Recreation Director James Gossett said they think this fitness court and the others to come are going to add to the City’s inventory for improving the health and wellness of the citizens of Huntsville.
“One of the things that excites us for the public is that this is free,” Gossett said. “You can come out here by yourself or with a group of friends, scan your QR code, and it will set a timer for a seven-minute workout on this equipment we have out here.
“The ability to enjoy a free workout, while surrounded by the vibrant work of local and international artists, is a unique experience, and we’re excited about this addition to John Hunt Park and look forward to the upcoming installations.”
“It is fantastic to see artwork incorporated into public projects across the city,” said Mayor Battle. “It’s even more meaningful to see artistry wrapped into wellness, and we thank our partners at Arts Huntsville for leading this effort.”
Following the ribbon cutting, Parks & Recreation fitness trainers led some students in a demonstration of how the innovative outdoor circuit training center provides a full-body workout in just seven minutes.