The Trust Tor Public Land's Fitness Zones

The ground was still wet at Alondra Park in Lawndale after an unseasonable downpour in Los Angeles, but that did not deter those who came out early in the morning to use the Fitness Zone. Chris was determined to get into better shape. She had looked into getting a gym membership but even the least expensive membership would have cost $400 a year, an amount she couldn’t afford, especially since she’d recently been laid off. Still, she knew her health was in jeopardy and she needed to lose weight. Above all, she wanted to avoid bariatric surgery.

Fitness Zones are comprised of isometric outdoor gym equipment manufactured specifically for neighborhood parks. Designed to be durable, vandal resistant, and used in variable configurations, they are appropriate for all fitness levels. The equipment can be used for both strength training and aerobics.

In 2008, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) was awarded a matching grant by UniHealth Foundation to support the TPL Fitness Zones Program in Los Angeles County. TPL's Fitness Zones Program is designed to make the parks and people of Los Angeles healthier by bringing durable fitness equipment to local parks in neighborhoods across the city. Each six to eight piece Fitness Zone includes ADA-compliant surfacing and decals in English and Spanish, with panels that include usage instructions, general nutrition information, and healthy eating guidelines. In order to make Fitness Zones available to many communities, TPL has developed a turnkey design and installation program.

RAND conducted an evaluation of the TPL Fitness Zones in Los Angeles County and arrived at strongly positive conclusions: “People in Fitness Zones engaged in substantially more moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than those in other park activity areas.”[1] The equipment was also used throughout the day. Fitness Zones attract new park users and have the greatest impact in parks in densely populated areas and in smaller parks. Preliminary analyses also indicate that the TPL Fitness Zones are exceptionally cost effective[2]. TPL is finding Fitness Zones to be so effective, that they hope to replicate the program in other parts of the country, including Miami, Florida, and Santa Barbara, California. TPL is also incorporating fitness equipment into park development projects, including in the San Francisco Bay Area and other sites in Los Angeles.

While medical concerns related to diabetes and weight are a compelling motivation for Fitness Zone users[2], the words of one exerciser provides other compelling reasons: “It’s fun, it’s outdoors under the trees, and I meet people here. There should be more of these!”




[1] Cohen, Deborah, et. al., “Family Fitness Zones Increase MVPA” p. 1
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.