Esquimalt to open region’s second seniors fitness park

Township seeks grant dollars to offer free fitness orientation program

Esquimalt seniors will be able to get moving in a whole new way at a new seniors outdoor fitness park slated to open in the township this spring.

The yet-to-be-named park will be created at the back of a newly vacant lot and behind the township’s teen centre on Fraser Street, close to the Esquimalt Recreation Centre.

A $25,000 federal grant covered the purchase of up to eight pieces of all-weather equipment from Habitat Systems Inc, designed to improve balance and co-ordination, upper and lower body strength, cardio and range of motion in the shoulders, said Gillian Rowan, adult and 50+ programmer with Esquimalt recreation services.

All ages will be able to drop by the park for free.

“We want it to be intergenerational,” said Rowan. “But the focus is really to provide something that is really senior-friendly.

“(Seniors’ fitness programming) definitely is a trend and we want to be on top of those trends,” she said. “Some people want to be outside rather than inside so we want to appeal to a wider audience as well.”

In their research, recreation staff looked to Oak Bay and Langford, where some outdoor fitness equipment is set up along trail systems. The only other outdoor seniors fitness park in the region is in Sidney.

To introduce park equipment to seniors “while removing financial barriers and promoting volunteerism,” staff are looking to create a new outdoor fitness program, called e=SeniorFit, Scott Hartman, Esquimalt director of parks and recreation services, wrote in a recent council report.

In the coming weeks staff expect to learn whether the proposed program will receive a $20,000 injection in provincial funds to pay for the six-week program, which would be offered four times this year.

Participants would be led by a group fitness expert and benefit from “a built-in cheerleading section of (volunteer) senior mentors that will be helping each other,” Rowan said.

Park equipment will likely be installed by the end of February, and a grand opening ceremony will happen in the spring.