Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, in partnership with the City of Willmar and the National Fitness Campaign (NFC), has announced the opening of an outdoor Fitness Court Studio in Sperry Park. Located at Homewood Avenue NE, this Fitness Court Studio will be the first of its kind in the state of Minnesota. The opening ceremony will take place on Wednesday, July 19 at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Sperry Park, one of the 37 active parks in Willmar, was chosen for its visibility and accessibility to residents and visitors. The park is conveniently located near Robbins Island and offers recreational amenities suitable for individuals and families of all ages. With approximately 9,500 Willmar residents living within walking or cycling distance, the Fitness Court Studio aims to provide free access to high-quality workouts and promote equitable access to exercise for the community.

Blue Cross is sponsoring up to ten Fitness Court sites throughout Minnesota over the next two years, focusing on promoting racial and health equity. These accessible fitness opportunities will benefit various communities across the state, both geographically and culturally. As part of the initiative, Blue Cross is also commissioning local artists to create designs that enhance the beauty of the Fitness Court spaces. In Willmar, the selected artist is Sonja Madsen, a sculpture artist born and raised in the city.

The Fitness Court Studio offers over 2,000 square feet of healthy infrastructure, which is twice the size of a standard Fitness Court. It allows for a range of activities such as yoga, pilates, zumba, and stretching classes while individuals and groups utilize the Fitness Court for their workouts. The Fitness Court itself is an outdoor gym that utilizes body weight exercises at seven different stations, catering to individuals aged 14 and above with various fitness levels and abilities. Users can enhance their experience by downloading the free Fitness Court App, which acts as a digital coach and supports their wellness journey.

Bukata Hayes, vice president of racial and health equity and chief equity officer at Blue Cross stated “This Fitness Court Studio represents our organization’s commitment to create healthier communities across the state. Over the past decade, Blue Cross has established a truly special relationship with the Willmar community through ongoing public health initiatives. We are excited to build upon these efforts with a barrier-free, equitable opportunity for exercise that can help to drive even more positive health outcomes in the area.”

City Administrator Leslie Valiant stated “When Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota approached Mayor Marv Calvin last year on the Fitness Court concept, staff agreed that this was a great opportunity to bring a new ‘adult’ playground to the city of Willmar. It was an opportunity to collaborate with a private entity to stretch city park improvement dollars further and bring a new feature that previously was not available to our residents. Thank you to Blue Cross, National Fitness Campaign, and Sonja Madsen for the beautiful public artwork and to city staff for all the work that went into bringing this new fitness feature to the city of Willmar.”

Selected artist Sonja Madsen said “I’m overjoyed at the opportunity to bring a lasting work of art to my hometown. Out and About highlights the diversity of our community and the universal connection to nature and fitness.”

Mitch Menaged, founder of National Fitness Campaign stated, “National Fitness Campaign is proud to welcome the City of Willmar to the campaign as a leading partner in Minnesota, championing mental and physical health for their residents. We are proud to continue our mission of getting people moving outdoors, building a nationwide gallery of public art and helping communities combat the fiscal and humanitarian costs of inactivity.”

Residents are invited to attend the launch event on July 19 at 10 a.m. to experience the Fitness Court Studio firsthand. For more information, they can visit the website or contact the Parks and Recreation department at (320) 235-1454.


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

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