MUSCATINE, Iowa–While traveling on the west coast, Muscatine Community Y Executive Director Bret Olson saw several outdoor fitness areas and thought that one would make an excellent addition to the Y sometime in the future. “I saw these when I was in California and I got the idea for an outdoor gym,” Olson shared. “I always thought it was a pipe dream, but COVID sped things up.”
To help those who prefer to workout outside have a safe and functional place to exercise, the Y began developing plans for an outdoor gym last winter. June 28, Y staff opened the new gym to the public for the first time, making it the first dedicated outdoor workout area at a Y in Iowa.
The Y ordered their self-contained outdoor fitness station, a 4,000 pound $30,000 unit from Hammer Strength in February. In the four months before its delivery in late June, the Y converted an old outdoor basketball court that rarely saw use into an outdoor gym space by fencing it in, laying down field turf, lighting it, and adding a drinking fountain, bench, and trash can for users’ convenience.
Now, when weather permits, Y members and guests may check in at the front desk and use the space during the Ys open hours. The outdoor gym features a wide array of equipment, including medicine and wall balls, kettlebells, Olympic Bars and weight plates, resistance bands, and jump ropes. For those looking for additional weight training activities, the equipment storage unit has three Olympic stations built onto its sides, allowing people to take their workouts to a new level. As Marketing and Fund Development Director Nicole McCleary put it, “it gives people wanting to push themselves a little further the perfect excuse to do so.”
In the future, McCleary also hopes to add additional components and pieces of equipment to the outdoor gym as people begin to take advantage of the new space. “We really wanted to get it out here to see what people love and what they’ll use most,” she shared. “We hope to add additional equipment as people request it.”
As people return to the Muscatine Community Y after spending time away from public places due to COVID-19, McCleary and Olson hope the addition of a dedicated outdoor gym will help those who prefer to exercise in the open air feel safer. “With COVID and people wanting to exercise in different ways and be outside, we thought it made sense for a number of reasons,” McCleary explained.
“I think it will be a game changer for us,” added Olson.