Miami-Dade County

Highland Oaks Park gets fit with Fitness Zone equipment

mhalper@miamiherald.com

Miami-Dade County has a new fee-free fitness zone for visitors to see and sweat.

On Saturday, the new ADA-accessible Fitness Zone — which was installed by the Miami-Dade Parks Recreation and Open Space Department— was inaugurated at Highland Oaks Park at 20300 NE 24th Ave.

“This is a perfect example of promises made, promises kept and the patience of a community that bears with us to get things done and have it done the right way,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally A. Heyman told the community leaders involved in the process. “This is one more great component to engage people of any age and every age in exercise. It’s going to improve their health in state-of-the-art fitness equipment. It’s free, outdoors, [and] it’s easy to maintain.”

The Fitness Zone initiative began in Los Angeles in 2010. Miami-Dade is the second place in the U.S. where the exercise equipment-filled areas is available.

Visitors looking to get some quick cardio or muscle training now have 14 machines available for all, including the disabled.

Jack Kardys, director of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, grew up in the area and lived across the street from Highland Oaks Park for 15 years.

He now appreciates “coming back home and doing something like this” in his own neighborhood.

“It serves so many more purposes, and it’s one thing to have physical health and physical strength, and you get that well-being from that, but it’s another thing to have good emotional and stress reduction by socializing as well,” Kardys said. “I think those are really important elements that we do with these kinds of systems.”

Miami-Dade Parks Design and Build Team completed the project for $102,500. The Building Better Communities General Obligation Program, the Quality Neighborhood Improvement Program and the Trust for Public Land provided the funding for the zone, which includes machines that allow exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, cardio on the elliptical and chest presses on others.

“Our philosophy is, ‘Parks for People,’ and one of the things we realized a few years ago with the health crisis in America is that we as a national health organization should do more to bring the attention that you can really go to your neighborhood park to exercise and become healthier,” said Brenda McClymonds, senior program director of Trust for Public Land in South Florida. “Parks serve multiple services and that can be one of them.”

If You Go

What: Fitness Zone

Where: Highland Oaks Park, 20300 NE 24th Ave

Cost: Free

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