The two local women who are looking to bring Fresh Air Fitness to the Woodlawn Regional Park are excited their dream is inching closer towards materializing.
Debby Knight and Peggy Rohatyn said they have received pictures of some of the equipment that has been manufactured. Randy Franke from KRJ Custom Fabricating has been building the equipment.
Among the items Franke has completed is an air walk machine.
“We received our first pictures from him,” said Knight. “He’s out there working and fabricating the equipment.”
Fresh Air Fitness will be located in the Woodlawn Athletic Park, near the Dana Quewezance Memorial Field and Cossette Park. It will be free and unsupervised, so they are placing a lot of faith in people to look after it.
A variety of resistance machines will be available for people to use to build strength and improve conditioning. They expect the air walkers will be used by people embarking on a fitness program, or rehabilitating an injury.
“It will be very useful for them, because it’s outside and it’s not hard,” said Rohatyn.
Since the equipment has to be secured, they won’t have the free weights found in conventional gyms.
Rig mats have been donated to serve as the foundation for a yoga area that they expect will be a popular attraction.
“The yoga community itself has done some extra fundraising that they’re going to put towards the project,” said Knight.
An obstacle course has been designed for those who want to be in Spartan runs and mud runs. It will include stations that can be done in sequence, such as flipping tires and pushing and carrying heavy objects, and there will also be ropes, walls, a climbing rig and monkey bars.
“We’re looking for an old car that they can take apart so they can push that,” said Rohatyn.
They have also created to a wheelchair and walker-accessible area, so that more people can access Fresh Air Fitness.
The park’s walking and running trails will also be accessible by Fresh Air Fitness users. They also hope to eventually have a meditation centre.
The exercise equipment is made for outdoor use, and it should withstand the rigors of a Saskatchewan winter. They believe that since Franke creating the equipment, he has a good understanding of the weather conditions.
“As much as we can, we want things to be done locally,” said Rohatyn. “They support us. When we need money for this or that, they’re the ones we go to.”
Woodlawn Regional Park is supportive of the project, and they want the groundwork, including the sound base, for Fresh Air Fitness to be in place for May 13, which is the date of the Coal Country Run. People will pass by the Fresh Air Fitness site during the run.
“The park has been excellent to work with,” said Rohatyn. “We have been involved with them quite a bit lately.”
They are optimistic a grand opening can happen in August.
“We don’t want to have it too early, and then have there be two pieces of equipment, or three or four pieces of equipment, because then people will say there’s a lot of hoopla for nothing,” said Rohatyn. “If there’s something in place there as soon as we get it done, we can go down and use it. But to have a grand opening … we want it to be substantial.”
The first apparatuses could include the tires, the monkey bars and the climbing rig. The yoga platform should be another early installation.
Fresh Air Fitness is a non-profit organization. Organizations such as the Rotary Club of Estevan and the Estevan Strippers hockey club have stepped forward with donations. Individuals and groups have also contributed.
They have also received $10,000 from the 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games committee.
Knight and Rohatyn are seeking grants, and they have received a grant for the wheelchair accessible area.
“We can’t really start any of the projects that we have asked for the grants until we approved for the grants,” said Rohatyn. “So if we aren’t told about the grants until, say, July, we can’t start those projects until then, because they won’t let us do the work, and then say ‘Here you go, this is what we did.’”
They have also contacted the drafting class at the Estevan Comprehensive School for a conceptual design of the Fresh Air Fitness grounds with the equipment in place.
Anyone they have spoken to has been supportive about the project.
“People might be a little intimidated to go to an existing gym … because there’s a lot of fit people in there,” said Knight.
The local gyms think it’s a great idea, they said, and Fresh Air Fitness said their purpose is to get more people exercising, and not to compete with the gyms. Knight even suggested some of their clients could wind up eventually going to gyms.
Once the equipment is in place, Fresh Air Fitness will continue to hold fundraisers, since they have to pay a fee to have their equipment at the park.
Proceeds from this year’s Coal Country Run, which Rohatyn and Knight organize, will be directed towards Fresh Air Fitness. The annual run-walk will be on May 13 at Rotary Park, starting at 10 a.m.
They hope to see a strong crowd turn out this year.