By Ashleigh Bartlett
Kern Valley Sun
Deanne Shulman, Rotary Club member and local Kernville resident, has been spearheading the project to install non-electrical exercise equipment at Riverside Park since 2013. On May 3, CalWater donated $10,000 to her solo ideation.
Shulman says she resolved to establish this project after a trip to Los Angeles, where she observed that multiple parks had equipment installed. This combined with statistical evidence that Kern County is the least healthy of California’s 58 counties. Kern County’s obesity rate, metabolic syndrome, and the number of individuals who are physically inactive is considerably higher than state and national averages. Additionally, there is a glaring lack of free fitness facilities in Kern Valley, as well as many residents living on limited and/or low fixed income.
The equipment will be provided by Greenfields Fitness, and powered by the resistance of one’s own body’s mass and thus, has no electricity requirements. There will be six units – a single elliptical, a rowing machine, a two-person accessible chest press, a four-person pendulum, a two-person combination straight arm pulldown and vertical press, and a four-person leg press. There is no scheduled maintenance or lubrication, and it is designed to withstand fluctuating weather elements. It is expected to be multi-generational – intended for those 14 years old to senior citizens. It is predicted to be a social activity, as multiple people can exercise at the same time. It will be free for the community and available 24/7.
Support has been received from Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason, the Director of Kern County Parks and Recreation, the President of Kernville Chamber of Commerce, the President of the late Kern Valley Revitalization, State Senator Jean Fuller and the Kern Valley Hospital Foundation. There have been community meetings to discuss her proposal, with the only major opposition being her original idea to remove the swingset as well. To ease the mind of residents, that is no longer the case; only the jungle gym will be removed.
To date, contributions of services have been made by Kern County General Services to oversee installation, preparation of site, liability insurance, and maintenance; by 711 Materials for a discount on cement; and by Peak Fitness, offering an educational column in the newspaper on use of the equipment and routines. Cash donations have been made by California Water Service for $10,500; the Rotary Club for $1,000; a private foundation for $1,000, and a private donor for $1,000.
Designed to exercise all key muscle groups and improve aerobic capacity, the set of exercise equipment will yield extensive benefits to the community. The promotion of physical activity is an important public health agenda, as it is well documented that adequate physical activity is vital for disease prevention and health promotion. Research studies have investigated how the role of a neighborhood’s open spaces is related to its inhabitants’ health-related lifestyle choices and how green space acts as a therapeutic landscape for seniors. Although it may seem apparent that outdoor facilities increase the likelihood of physical activity, most studies showcased a significant rise in health and mood of adult participants in newly facilitated exercise parks.
If you are interested in donating to the project, please contribute to the Kern Valley Hospital Foundation with a mention to the outdoor gym.