Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | May 24, 2018

Exercise equipment geared toward adults installed at Chautauqua Park

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jun 07, 2017
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Brian Stains rakes mulch around the newly installed exercise equipment at Chautauqua Park. The equipment allows members of the public to work out while keeping a close eye on their children on the playground equipment.

Private money has been raised to purchase and install exercise equipment at Chautauqua Park.

The equipment is on a raised mulch bed between the playground equipment near the entry to the park and the restrooms. It features monkey bars, chin-up bars, a ladder, a balance beam and parallel bars for doing dips.

The idea of exercise equipment in the park was hatched by Fairfield resident Brian Stains. Stains was thinking about putting a chin-up bar in his backyard, but then thought it would be even better if it were in a place everyone could use it.

“I considered the idea of putting it in a Fairfield park,” he said. “We have terrific playground equipment for children, but no fitness equipment for adults.”

Stains mentioned that the Jefferson County Health Center has installed exercise stations at the trail outside its building, but city parks had nothing like that. Stains approached Fairfield parks director Pam Craff for her opinion. They agreed Chautauqua would be best park since it is the most visited, and to put the equipment between the parking lot and restroom because it was flat and wouldn’t interfere with the disc golf course.

“That playground at Chautauqua Park has something for all ages, and can be used by slightly older children who don’t need hands-on supervision,” Stains said. “Many times I walk past it and see kids clamoring on the equipment while their parent is on an iPad. I thought, ‘Why can’t the parent exercise, too?’”

Stains liked Craff’s suggestion of putting the adult equipment near the playground so that parents could work out while keeping an eye on their children.

After consulting with Craff about its location, it was time to research what exercise equipment the park should have. Stains found a supplier, Playcraft, near Des Moines. He got quotes on various pieces of equipment, and how much it would cost to install them. He put that information into a formal proposal he presented to the Fairfield Park and Recreation Board in June 2016.

“The board liked the idea and approved it unanimously, but there was no funding for it in the budget. They told me to find the money,” Stains said.



Stains needed to raise $7,000. He received donations from several local businesses, and then began asking service clubs. He started by giving a presentation to the Fairfield Kiwanis Club.

Kiwanis Club president Daryn Hamilton said the club agreed to donate the remaining $2,500 Stains needed to complete the project.

“This is the type of project we look for every year in order to give back the money we raise at Old Threshers and Kids’ Day,” Hamilton said.

Stains is working on creating a memorial to the donors to be placed near the equipment.

All fundraising was finished by Thanksgiving 2016, and all of it was through the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Foundation, which is tax exempt.

Construction lasted two days near the end of April.

“The installers used lasers to line everything up,” Stains said. “They did a beautiful job.”

The concrete needed three days to cure, and then mulch was laid on top. By early May, the equipment was ready for public use.


The equipment

The equipment is all on the same mulch bed but broken into separate pieces. One piece of it is a series of monkey bars, with chin-up bars on both sides.

“The chinning bars are of different heights to accommodate tall and not so tall people,” Stains said. “People can do chin-ups on the monkey bars, which are at an intermediate height, if that is best for them.”

Stains said that pull-ups, with an overhand grip, focus on building muscles in the upper back, while chin-ups strengthen the chest and arms. A person can also do a neutral-grip pull-up by holding onto two parallel bars on the monkey bars.

“Those focus on the biceps, the vanity muscle,” Stains said.

The balance beam is less than a foot off the ground, thus making it easy to step onto and off. Stains said that piece is especially useful to old people who need to improve their balance.

“Part of the reason people lose their balance and fall is due to weak muscles around the ankle and the lack of practice balancing,” Stains said. “I’m 66, so I’m starting to think about these things.”

One of the exercises a person can do on the balance beam is the “superman” pose, which involves bending over at the waist, putting one’s arms out to the side and lifting the other leg so it’s pointing straight back.

“Another exercise you can do with balance beam is to hop over it with sideways jumps,” he said. “You can also use it for pushups because it gives you a clean surface to work with.”

The balance beam allows a person to do a seated dip, too, which involves sitting on the bar with one’s feet to the side, and then pushing oneself up while in a seated position. Stains said that works the shoulders and triceps.

On the north side of the mulch bed are two parallel bars about 3 or 4 feet off the ground. Stains said they can be used to do dips, where a person holds onto the bars with their arms, lets their legs hang below them, and dips their torso.

“You can also walk on your hands across the parallel bars with your legs dangling below,” Stains said. “If you’re really good, you can walk across with your legs in the air above your hands.”

The last piece of equipment is a vertical ladder. Stains said it can be used to climb up and down like soldiers use them in basic training.

“It’s also good for stretching your hamstring,” he said. “If you had a really strong core, you could do a flag on it, where you put one hand on a lower wrung and the other on an upper wrung while holding your body out horizontally.”

Stains said he’s been pleased with the public response to the equipment so far.

He received a photo from a friend doing a handstand on one of the pieces.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Sonia Gunderson | Jun 07, 2017 16:50

What a wonderful contribution to our community! Thanks, Brian Stains, for conceiving and spearheading this project, to Fairfield Parks and Rec for supporting it, and to Kiwanis and other donors who provided funding. Not only is this a boon for residents, but it represents the spirit of community engagement that makes Fairfield such an exciting place to live!

Sonia Gunderson

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