Escondido came second out of five fitness parks

    Escondido’s newest free gym opened last weekend in Kit Carson Park, the second in a network of five fitness venues planned in the city.

    The gyms are the result of a partnership between the City of Escondido and the National Fitness Campaign, a San Francisco-based company that designs and promotes gyms across the United States.

    The opening of the city’s newest fitness stadium was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting event, as well as a police-firefighter fitness competition and a training session for members of the public. The fitness field is located near the park entrance at Mary Lane and Bear Valley Parkway.

    “I hope people get to the fitness ground and start exercising,” said Nadia Mondragon, a city fitness specialist who will design workouts for different age groups and fitness levels, and will also appoint volunteer “fitness ambassadors” to oversee the workouts at the city’s fitness venues.

    The first court opened in Mountain View Park in November, and construction of the third court is expected to begin soon adjacent to the city library on Calmie Street. Escondido’s assistant director of community services, Danielle Lopez, said a fourth court is scheduled to be built in Washington Park, and city officials have not yet determined the location of the fifth fitness hall.

    Each 1,000-square-foot fitness center features seven exercise areas, which together provide a full-body workout. The core areas include the squat, push-ups, lunges, pull-ups, agility, and bending.

    Lopez said the city covers most of the costs of its fitness venues through park development fees that are collected when building residential and commercial projects in the city. The cost of materials and equipment for each court, including the shade structure at each location, is approximately $150,000, and the city received a $30,000 grant from the National Fitness Campaign for each location. The cost of installing the courts ranges from $60,000 to $90,000 per site.

    Mondragon said the mobile app allows users to view videos of different workouts, as well as find exercise class schedules and sign up for classes. Fitness enthusiasts can also track their exercises and compete with their friends using the app.

    Lopez said fitness pitches are an ideal way to get healthy outdoor exercise for everyone from families with children to seniors.

    “We just wanted to provide a free fitness opportunity for families to get out and do it together. It’s another outdoor entertainment that anyone can do,” Lopez said.

    Fitness centers aren’t just a great way for Escondido residents to keep fit. They are also blank canvases for those with artistic inclinations. The city held a competition to select local artists to paint murals on the back walls of Kit Carson Park’s fitness grounds and library.

    Mondragon said the goal is to offer up to three fitness classes per week at each location if there is enough interest from the public. Under current COVID health rules, up to 14 people can participate in classes, but that number will rise to 21 once the rules are relaxed.

    She added that residents can also use the courts themselves, following the instructions on the app or posted to the fitness courts.

    Mondragon said it will also create a Facebook page to provide information about fitness courses and class schedules.

    “The important thing is to have an accessible place for the public at no cost to get some exercise,” Mondragon said.

    Mondragon said that as more fitness venues open, it will recruit more people to serve as volunteer fitness ambassadors, with a goal of assigning four volunteers to each location.

    Volunteers must be able to participate at least 10 times per year, have some experience in the fitness industry, and pass a background check. Those who are interested in volunteering can inquire about Fiya.