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New outdoor fitness park in Topeka helps community get fit for free



TOPEKA, Kan. – A new outdoor fitness park in Topeka is giving community members a chance to get fit for free.

On Monday’s, Wednesdays, and Friday’s you can find Judy Gatewood at a FitLot class in Topeka’s Willow Park.

“When things were shut down I couldn’t go into buildings to an exercise class and then this popped up outside,” she continued saying, “It’s free, so I decided three days a week, I can handle that.”

The classes are offered through Shawnee County Parks+Rec and led by a certified fitness trainer.

The trainer, Tony Estes said, “We do a 40-second exercise and then take a break for 20 seconds to move on to the next exercise, so everybody kind of goes at their own pace.”

“It’s a nice array of things,” said Shawnee Co. Parks+Rec Public Information Supervisor, Mike Mclaughlin. “You can do ab workouts, there is an elliptical trainer, a stair stepper, and you can do exercises with resistance bands.”

The location of the FitLot is also appealing. It’s conveniently located next to a playground and a short distance from Topeka’s hospitals and downtown.

Mclaughlin said, “We put in new walking paths and playgrounds at Willow Park, so to have the FitLot here is just an added bonus. It’s just more quality of life for the people of Topeka and Shawnee County.”

The best part is that building the outdoor fitness park came at no cost to the county.

“For its 60th anniversary AARP wanted to give back to the community, so they donated a FitLot to all 50 states and a few other locations and fortunately in Kansas, Topeka was chosen as the location,” Mclaughlin said.

Gatewood is an AARP member and said she is happy to see her dues being put to good use.

“Anytime you can have something that would benefit the people in the city and in the area, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money, it’s good for everybody,” she said.

Estes said he enjoys being the trainer for the classes and added, “There is a lot of small and large cities that would love to have it, but we got it. It’s free, so we encourage people to use it regularly.”

Shawnee County Parks+Rec said people can take classes as part of their 6-week series or visit the park on their own time to get a workout in. A sign near the FitLot has step-by-step instructions on how to use each machine.

If you’re interested in the classes, the next series starts May 12th. An intro class will be offered on May 10th to help you learn proper movement and safe equipment use.