AMERICAN CANYON — Feeling housebound during the pandemic, especially now that gyms are closed for indoor use? If you’re an American Canyon resident, then its time to head to the Wetlands.
Working with the parks foundation, the city of American Canyon has installed 10 outdoor fitness machines along Wetlands Edge for free community use.
“This is quickly becoming the most popular place in American Canyon,” city spokeswoman Jen Kansanback said of the 10 Greenfields machines installed three weeks ago.
The machines are meant for use by people 14 and over, with three of them designed for wheelchair accessibility. Some 30 different exercises can be done on the 10 machines, said Janelle Sellick, executive director of the American Canyon Community & Parks Foundation, which raised the funds to buy the equipment.
“All the machines use body weight as resistance, and you can really get a whole body workout in there,” she said. “The machines are free to use, and open from dawn to dusk.”
When people first see the outdoor fitness center, “jaws drop,” Sellick said. “They’re surprised that the equipment would be so sturdy and functional and designed for outdoor use year-round. People have not seen anything quite like it before.”
The Foundation is a 5-year-old nonprofit, which raised the funds for the machines during its wildly successful “Evening at the Ruins” event in 2017, Sellick said.
“We raised $50,000 for this project in about 10 minutes during an auction, so we knew the community really wanted it,” she said. “The highest single amount donated was $10,000, and some 50 donors donated in (every denomination) in between. It was just about enough to buy the equipment,” with ICC Stravinski donating the concrete pad,” Sellick said.
The installation site — Wetlands Edge Trailhead — was determined to be the perfect spot, she said.
“What’s unique is this is the most used trail/park area in the city — about 3,000 come every month now, which is an increase from before COVID,” she said. “It’s a very popular place for walking, running, hiking, with (and without) dogs.”
“It’s been busy constantly since it’s been put in, at all times of the day, but, especially mornings and evenings,” Sellick said. “There are six to 12 people on the machines at almost all times. There’s almost no time you can go there any day when you don’t find at least one person on it.”
Some of that is likely attributable to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of most gyms, Sellick said.
Users are asked to “keep COVID safe – wear masks, use hand sanitizer before and after, and keep six feet from others and don’t use it if you have any symptoms at all.”
Judging from the remarks on the Foundation’s Facebook page, at least one person is not completely pleased with the new setup.
“Thanks for putting in this park with no extra parking, guys,” one poster said. “Now everyone just street parks in front of my house. I particularly enjoy the car alarms that go off when the owners can’t hear them. Great job. ... What’s next – a Walmart built on the Wetlands?”
But, the overwhelming majority of feedback has been positive, officials said.
“I love the new outdoor equipment at Wetlands Edge. It has been the motivation for me to get up in the morning and get moving. I look forward to my daily adventures there,” said American Canyon resident Caryn Dado.
“My friends and I were really impressed with all the machines out there because there is something for every muscle group,” said local teenager Kwin Lee. “We can’t go to the local indoor gym right now, and this is the perfect alternative to keep us active.”
Sellick added that the Foundation is not finished finding ways to help American Canyonites improve or maintain their health.
“We’re also working on, for 2021, in partnership with the city, a Story Walk Path – installations of reading kiosks around park trails,” she said.
The effort that has resulted in the installation of the new exercise equipment began as a suggestion from a local high school student who has since passed away, Sellick said.
“In 2013, Kalan Camacho, who was an honorary high school commissioner for the Parks and Community Services Commission, had been at a conference and seen such equipment there, and he did a presentation about this great outdoor fitness thing and everyone thought it was a great idea,” she said.
“He passed away in 2018. We dedicated the equipment to him. There’s a donor sign being installed, and at the bottom it credits (Camacho) with envisioning this project. We wish he could be here to see it.”
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