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The key to getting into good all-around health is to mix up your exercise regimen, and those using the half-mile paved walking path around the Twin Valley Elementary Center (TVEC) can find a series of exercise stations designed to do just that. The exercise stations, the Energi Jr. model made by Playworld Systems, allows for walkers to step to the side at six separate stations spaced out along the path and further hone the attributes such as physical strength, quickness, and balance.
Each of the six Energi Jr. stations is ‘two-sided’, offering two pieces of exercise equipment (i.e. a ramp, a box, and metal bars of different sizes and heights) with five exercises designated to a piece of equipment. The exercises are detailed on signs, and altogether there are sixty different exercises across the collection of stations.
TVEC physical education instructor Craig Heller had a hand in getting the stations installed at TVEC.
“I got together with Twin Valley PIE (Partners In Education) and talked about what can be done to help with fitness of kids in the community and we came up with equipment idea,” he said. “These systems were chosen because they address all aspects of exercise.”
Heller said that was inspired to bring up the exercise station idea because of similar trails he has walked in Bucks County.
“Bucks County has some great walking trails with fitness equipment,” he explained. “It is geared for kids but most people can use it without difficulty.”
The funding for the exercise stations came through a grant, the Highmark Healthy High Five School Challenge grant. This grant is funded by the Highmark Foundation, a charitable organization, a private foundation and an affiliate of Highmark Inc. that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The premise of the grant is to promote nutrition and physical activity in schools.
The equipment was purchased from George Ely Associates and was installed by Lowell Hartzell Contractors.
A modern feature of the stations is the inclusion of QR codes on the exercise signage. QR codes are small icons that are scanned by the cameras on smartphones which then ‘link back’ to exercise video tutorials that play on the phone’s screen. This provides users with a way to ensure that they are doing an exercise properly.
Naturally, the equipment is an important part of Heller’s curriculum for the students of TVEC. He uses the equipment it in a controlled circuit with a buddy system (so they can watch and encourage one another) to help the kids understanding the aspects and components of strength and endurance. He also has the kids keep activity logs to track their progress.
The equipment is also used in the after school hours by community groups, with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girls on the Run, and Stride (a boys running club) being some of the groups who have access and use the equipment. The public is also welcome to enjoy the path and the exercise stations, which should prove quite useful in shedding some of the extra pounds that are put on over the holidays.
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