Aurora students give fitness court at Simmons Park a workout

Jason Smith Jr., 11, a student at Simmons Middle School in Aurora, has found a new way to exercise and stay in shape, thanks to some equipment that has been recently installed near his school.

“I’ve tried some of the exercises and this stuff is fun but it’s also hard,” Smith said as he tried to balance his body between some rings at a new exercise area at Simmons Park at 1191 E. Indian Trail. “Hard things make things for your brain and body easier, so you can go with more complicated stuff.”

The new fitness court that has been added to the Fox Valley Park District’s arsenal of facilities was put through the paces on Thursday as students from Simmons Middle School visited the site during their physical education classes.

Earlier this month, the new facility was installed at Simmons Park thanks to a $50,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and the National Fitness Campaign.

Elizabeth Bonet, 11, of Aurora, a student at Simmons Middle School, checks out the new fitness equipment last week at Simmons Park in Aurora.

The Fox Valley Park District was one of 15 agencies in Illinois that was selected to receive a fitness court, which includes more than 900 square feet of space filled with 30 pieces of weather-resistant equipment divided into seven stations.

Brett Meier, general manager of Fox Fitness for the Fox Valley Park District, praised the new facility noting that “it is probably one of the best courts I have ever seen.”

“A lot of time on the courts, they try to mimic indoor equipment which can be hard to do and in this case they didn’t try to mimic that. They basically made it functional and adaptive to people of all sizes and shapes,” Meier said.

Use, he said, has been weather dependent but Meier adds that the new facility offers options for those seeking to add variety to their workouts.

“We have seen people using this when the weather has been good and it is a great alternative to going indoors. It’s a great addition on top of having a fitness program people are already using,” Meier said. “On a nice day, it’s great to come over and since this is all about exercises using your own body weight anybody can do it. It’s good to have variety, since if you do the same thing every day you’re going to get the same result.”

Simmons Middle School faculty as well as students like Smith said the new gear is a bonus.

“This is for all ages so everyone can do it,” he said. “It’s important for everyone to be fit.”

Elizabeth Bonet, 11, of Aurora, was enjoying time with the equipment with her Simmons Middle School class and said she was excited about having something new to experience.

“I’m very athletic and I’m very excited for when we get to use this in P.E. class,” she said. “I haven’t tried all the stations and I like that you don’t need any extra equipment – just yourself. When I first saw this, I thought it looked pretty interesting.”

John McGary, who said he has taught physical education for 32 years, said the new fitness court meshes well with what the middle school is teaching young people.

Simmons Middle School students get a chance to try out the equipment at the new fitness court at Simmons Park last week. The park is located near the school.

“I think having this is great. I love it and now that we have introduced them to it, their curiosity is going to bloom and bring them right back, we hope,” McGary said. “This is going to be used by the P.E. department and we’ll bring the students out here on fitness days.”

McGary said the new apparatus is something that appears to have legs and will hopefully encourage lifelong fitness habits.

“Of course that’s what we’re shooting for. P.E. is leaning a lot more towards fitness and away from sports and things like that. I think this is really going to help that aspect of it,” he said.

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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