There’s little doubt that fitness-mad Calgarians love the city’s vast network of trails. No matter what extreme the mercury hits, you can always count on the pathways being crowded with folks looking to stay in shape.
Which brings me to Ulsan, South Korea.
I spent some time there over the summer and was intrigued by just how far the city had perfected the fitness meme.
Aside from a winding river pathway complete with bike trails and jogging paths, every kilometre or so featured a fitness park with durable, all-weather workout equipment.
Row upon stainless steel row of elliptical machines, tai chi wheels, chin-up bars and stationary bicycles.
Occasionally you could even find 50-pound bench presses made from thick wood with the weights secured with heavy steel.
Oh, and they were busy.
All the time.
So naturally it got me to thinking, “Why not try something like that here.”
Turns out the idea is already being kicked around by Ald. Brian Pincott, who has been hearing from some of his communities that adding exercise equipment to existing pathways would be a solid investment.
“I like to think of them as ‘fitness trails’ and it’s something worth exploring on a whole host of levels,” said the Ward 11 alderman.
“We do all sorts of public expenditures to help people enjoy the city in different ways and I don’t really see this as any different.”
One of his communities, Cedarbrae in the city’s southwest, has already expressed an interest in piloting a fitness trail of its own.
Naturally, there will be questions about the viability of the equipment given Calgary’s lengthy winters but Pincott believes if you build it, people will come.
“The weather shouldn’t be an impediment to getting people out because we’re a sunny city and it doesn’t take much to get people out enjoying the outdoors,” he said.
“In the winter when it drops down to 15 below it’s still gorgeous.”
The other question likely to be asked is security and the potential for vandalism.
But as Pincott points out, the city has many public facilities that have weathered vandals and are safe, and he sees fitness parks as no different.
Pincott says he still has some research to do but notes a company out of Olds has supplied similar equipment to a number of B.C. communities and could be a perfect fit for a pilot in Calgary.
That’s something Calgary’s fitness hordes can get pumped about.