Cranberry debuts fitness centers that encourage health and socializing

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Visitors to Cranberry’s Graham and North Boundary parks soon will have some healthy options for exercise beyond the typical hiking and ball-playing activities.

Four outdoor fitness centers — the first of a kind for the region — will open June 4. They are gifts of the Cranberry Township Community Chest, a nonprofit group that raises funds for community improvement. The project costs about $200,000, according to Cranberry Parks and Recreation Director Pete Geis.

The fitness centers are exercise stations: one at North Boundary, three at Graham Park: and one each at the baseball, soccer and football/lacrosse complexes.

Designed to endure a four-season climate, each station includes machines that focus on certain muscle groups. Together, they are aimed at building core body strength, increasing agility and enhancing flexibility. All the equipment relies on the user’s body weight for resistance.

Mr. Geis, the township’s parks and recreation director, said the benefits of thestations extend beyond the prospective health benefit to the user. He said the equipment is clustered to promote socializing. As many as four people can work out  at the same time. Some of the equipment is appropriate for those who use wheelchairs.

Plans already are underway by athletic associations that use the fields in the parks to host wellness programs for parents. “While the kids are at their practices, the parents can be getting a modified workout,” Mr. Geis commented. “A lot of these parents are hanging around anyway, waiting for their kids. Now they can get some exercise together while they’re waiting.”

And for park visitors who don’t already know each other, Mr. Geis said he believes the fitness stations will encourage new friendships. “It’ll be just like the gym. You’re going to start talking to the people around you so these fitness [stations] will end up nurturing a sense of community — a meeting-your-neighbor kind of thing,” he said.

Mr. Geis said there’s no mystery as to how to make the machines work.Each station has a code that opens to a video that demonstrates the most effective way to use the machines. Fitness programs centering on the equipment are planned and will be run by parks and recreation staff. There also will be one hour free workshops on how to use the equipment at 6:30 p.m. June 9, 10 a.m. June 14, 6:30 p.m. June 18, and 10 a.m. June 28. The instructor will be Jen Cranston, a certified fitness instructor for the township parks and recreation department.

Graham Park is located off of Rochester Road; North Boundary Park is on North Boundary Road.

While the fitness stations were funded by the Community Chest, with help from local businesses and other nonprofits, the township is contributing in  installation, landscaping and use of the land.

“It’s a true partnership,” Mr. Geiss said.

The idea for the outdoor fitness stations came from Community Chest president and township Supervisor Bruce Mazzoni, who encountered a similar exercise trail while traveling. The trail involved fitness stations designed in linear fashion. Mr. Geis was immediately on board with the idea but came up with the concept of arranging the all-seasons equipment in clusters so multiple users could use them, engaging with each other.

Karen Kane: or 724-772-9180.

Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.

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