FitLot Outdoor Fitness Parks

Fit Lot Bonnabel Ribbon Cutting

The all-encompassing goal of business leaders and elected officials in Jefferson Parish is to make it the most desired place for current and future residents to live, work, and play. This includes offering outstanding workforce, entertainment, housing, education, and healthcare opportunities among many other categories people consider when they choose a place to call home. 

Complementing healthcare is the need for communities to offer both equitable and accessible exercise and fitness opportunities. FitLot Outdoor Fitness Parks checks all the boxes for community members of all ages, abilities and experience levels to access a place where fitness is free. And Jefferson Parish became the newest home for those accommodations.

Through strategic business partnerships, FitLot has brought at least one fully funded outdoor fitness park to all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In 2022, Jefferson Parish opened its first three FitLot outdoor fitness parks at the Bonnabel Boat Launch, Hog Alley and Clearview Shores Park.

Www.eye Creative.com Frank Aymami Photography

“We’ve located each FitLot in a prominent public place near other recreational amenities,” Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken said. “The FitLot on Canal Street in Hog Alley is located along what will one day be the ‘River to Lake’ Bike Path, the Clearview Shores location sits beside a major levee crossing and the one at Bonnabel is right beside the levee trail that thousands use to walk, run and bike. FitLot works hand-in-hand with these other outdoor amenities to encourage healthy activity.”

Many initiatives have promoted healthier lifestyles in Jefferson Parish over the years, but Van Vrancken pointed to the 2020 pandemic as a moment in time where the public health made its move back to the forefront.

“Covid-19 taught us that a healthy community is a less vulnerable community,” Van Vrancken said. “So when I became aware of FitLot, I was excited to find something simple we could do as a parish to encourage people to get healthier. I loved the simplicity. FitLot did all the heavy lifting in developing a well thought out, compact, cost-effective way to encourage people to exercise. It was plug and play.”

Adam Mejerson, founder and executive director of FitLot, got his vision for the organization at a young age. When he came across an outdoor fitness park for the first time in 2011, he immediately recognized the potential benefits it could have for a community and began thinking about how vacant lots in the area could be repurposed into outdoor exercise spaces.

“Growing up, my father worked as an exercise physiologist and operated a fitness facility connected to the house I grew up in,” Mejerson said. “So, I’ve always had a unique appreciation for fitness as well as access to equipment and professional instruction. I grew up understanding the positive benefits an active lifestyle can have on all aspects of one’s life, and now I’m working to help make those benefits easier for more people to experience.”

The first FitLot to open in Jefferson Parish was the Bonnabel Boat Launch location following a ribbon-cutting ceremony in June. Incorporated in the design of the park is the unique design on the overhanging sun shades which features three gold coeurs-de-lis (lily hearts) that are found on the Metairie flag established in 2018. “The Jefferson Chamber Foundation is ecstatic to unveil such an important asset that makes exercise readily accessible within our community,” added Jefferson Chamber President Ruth Lawson. “This FitLot Outdoor Fitness Park immediately elevates the fitness offerings in our parish and is consistent with our LiveWell Jefferson initiative of creating and cultivating a culture of health and wellness for our business community and parish residents.” 

Fit Lot Hog Alley

Similar in size to a playground, each FitLot is shaded, safety surfaced and features 11 pieces of equipment. With open floor space and 32 attachment points for resistance bands, park users can perform dozens of exercises at their FitLot for cardio, balance, flexibility and strength training. Additionally, each piece of equipment has an instructional sign with a QR Code providing brief instructional videos showing how to use it.

Those witnessing or experiencing a FitLot Outdoor Fitness Park for the first time may have many questions and curiosities, and Mejerson believes he can dispel some doubts that it’s not easy for them to use.

“Some misconceptions about fitness parks are that you need to already be very strong to use them, especially more traditional calisthenics parks,” Mejerson said. “Our focus on programming the parks with introductory classes and free community workouts also create opportunities for everyone to learn how to use the equipment and work with local fitness professionals to learn safe proper form.”

A major bonus following the opening of each outdoor fitness park is a partnership with the Jefferson Parish Recreation Department (JPRD) to offer and manage free FitLot fitness classes sponsored by LCMC Health, LiveWell Jefferson and Van Vrancken’s office. The hope is for JPRD to see enough positive community feedback and interest and continue offering classes long term as a standard community program.

“It’s public-private partnerships like these, where we have a councilmember, the Chamber, FitLot and others collaborating to benefit the community,” said Ayame Dinkler, chief administrative officer at LCMC Health. “It’s one of the things I love about Jefferson Parish in general – how business friendly and how open to these types of partnerships the community is.”

Through the planning process, 22 different park locations in Jefferson Parish were identified by community leaders, and FitLot is currently working to find philanthropic support for the 19 remaining projects.

Fit Lot Clearview