April 22, 2019 | 63° F

New Brunswick opens 2 new outdoor fitness centers with talks of opening 1 at Rutgers

Photo by Courtesy of Aly Gordon |

Over the weekend, the City of New Brunswick opened two new outdoor fitness centers, which are free to the public and equipped for bodyweight circuit training.

New Brunswick opened two new fitness courts over the weekend — unveiling plans to revamp its outdoor recreation and parks system. 

Buccleuch Park and Alice Jennings Archibald Park are the latest additions to the National Fitness Campaign (NFC), making world-class fitness free for everyone, with new outdoor bodyweight circuit training gyms. 

At a ribbon cutting ceremony at Buccleuch Park on Saturday, Mayor James Cahill (D-N.J.) and Mitch Menaged, founder and director of NFC joined New Brunswick representatives to celebrate the city's move toward healthy living for its residents.

"We are very excited to welcome these new Fitness Courts that will help our residents stay healthy and well and enhance the offerings of our City parks system" said Jennifer Bradshaw, spokesperson for the City of New Brunswick in a press release. 

Of the two parks, Buccleuch Park is closest to campus toward Easton Avenue by Saint Peter's Hospital. Alice Jennings Archibald Park is located by Wright Place, off Somerset Street. 

Bradshaw said that the event was a city initiative and partnership with NFC, who manufactured the courts. 

“We’re doing landscaping, we’re doing improvements to our playing courts, we’re doing a lot of new and exciting things to re-energize and rejuvenate our park system. These fitness courts are part of that. They’re also part of the city’s dedication to health and wellness of all our residents”

These courts are free to use, for the public and will be open whenever the park is open, Bradshaw said. In addition to the workout equipment, there are instructions posted that teach residents how to use the courts correctly and safely. 

The NFC mobile app is also available for download and has workout routine demonstrations led by trained instructors.  

This event worked in conjunction with the annual Health and Play Family Day at Buccleuch Park. The day is targeted toward encouraging kids to get out and play more. 

Marie Catanese, supervisor of recreation for the City of New Brunswick, said the goal of the event is to have parents recognize how important play is for their children and for children to recognize the fun in outdoor activity. 

The grand opening of the fitness courts was scheduled to end at noon while the Health and Play Family Day started at the same time in hopes residents would filter from one event into the other, Catanese said. 

“It’s about trying to create a healthy lifestyle for the people of New Brunswick,” Cahill said. “It’s important to be healthy. Our health impacts everything we do ... This (the fitness courts) gives people the opportunity to do a free complete workout, to work your entire body in addition to the fitness trail in Buccleuch Park. So you can get your cardiovascular workout and your strength conditioning as well.”

Manuel Zamora, 63, a resident of New Brunswick, attended the event with his wife and two kids. 

"It’s important for kids to go out and play. Kids need more physical activity. We like to come out here so that they (his children) aren’t at the house stuck in front of the TV all day,” Zamora said.

Vickie Frugoni, 38, and Alixon Etts, 40, both residents of New Brunswick, live in the Colony House right next to the park and consider it to be their backyard. They said they walk around the park trail every day, today the bright blue colors of the equipment caught their eye and they decided to stop by. 

Etts, who has been living around the park area since she was a child, said that the courts give a new vibe to the park. 

Frugoni agreed, saying that it’s a great addition and that all the equipment and bars remind her of when she used to do CrossFit. She is excited to get back into a similar style workout. 

“I think this is going to attract a good crowd. I’m so excited for my kids to see this. I’m hoping they’re going to want to jump in here. I’m always trying to get them to walk with me ... I think they’re going to enjoy it,” Frugoni said. 

The courts took approximately 15 months to build, Menaged said. 

“The National Fitness Campaign sponsors funding to cities and colleges who see fitness as a priority,” he said.

The country needs programs like this to remind people how important fitness is, Menaged said. 

The court at Buccleuch Park is the campaign’s first new fitness court in the tri-state area. The design process for NFC's product took two years and millions of dollars to design, Menaged said. 

The campaign also launched a collegiate program that is funding courts at colleges across the country starting with 20 this year. 

The first one recently opened at Stanford University with talks of adding a fitness court along the Raritan River or outside one of the University’s recreation centers. 

Approximately 50 to 100 people came to the opening of the fitness courts, according to Cahill. The Mayor said that the courts are another opportunity to continue to blend the Rutgers and New Brunswick community together. 

“The shared community of New Brunswick and Rutgers interconnects each and every day. This is just another example in a park that is immediately adjacent to the College Avenue campus and has Rutgers students in it every day like it has non-students in it every day ... You can bet Rutgers students and non-Rutgers students alike are going to be working out at the same time," he said. 

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to better reflect the logistics of the National Fitness Campaign's efforts. 

Erica D'Costa

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