Outdoor gym opens at Johnson County park

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Fitness centers offer a lot, but they can be short on fresh air and natural scenery. Now, in Johnson County, you can hit a gym that offers just that.

A beautiful lake, inviting trails and great playground equipment. Those are the some of the strengths of Heritage Park. Now you can add another -- a place to build strength and endurance.

"It's awesome. It's awesome," said Kelsey Schultz, a regular park visitor.

It's a gym that's outdoors. The fitness park opened Thursday. It was created with a $45,000 donation from Olathe Medical Center.

"The Affordable Care Act requires all not-for-profit hospitals to conduct a community needs assessment and then implement a community health improvement plan," said Mike Jensen, the medical center's vice-president of marketing.

Jensen says the outdoor gym is one way to address obesity which was the top health priority from the assessment.

The equipment is designed to be as sturdy as the playground type and is intended for ages 13 and older, but the park department said they realize younger kids will be on it.

"We're hoping with supervision with parents, they're learning proper technique, and they're getting the opportunity to understand the importance of doing this type of exercise on a daily basis," said Jill Leiker of Johnson County Park and Recreation.

Schultz said she is impressed.

"I like working out outside a lot more than I do inside, so I'll enjoy this a lot," she said.

Her mother-in-law, Sarah Schultz, added, "We walk on the path, we play on the playground, but this is really neat. And it's free!"

It's free and freeing to have a gym open -- really open -- any day of the year.

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