WXXI AM News

Free fitness equipment coming to Cobbs Hill Park

May 20, 2019

The city of Rochester and MVP Health Care have announced a partnership to install a “fitness court” in Cobbs Hill Park.

The court will house various static fitness equipment, like pullup bars and step platforms, that allow users to “leverage their own body weight into strength and mobility gains,” said Yvonne Donnelly, a marketing representative at MVP.

“You’re going to be able to do pullups; you’re going to be able to do pushups; you’re going to be able to do squats; you’re going to be able to do planks -- all within 30 stations,” Donnelly said.

A rendering depicts the fitness court that the city of Rochester and MVP Health Care are partnering to install in Cobbs Hill Park.
Credit MVP Health Care

The fitness court is part of a nationwide trend of municipalities working to make exercise facilities available to the public, regardless of their ability to afford a gym membership, said Daniele Lyman-Torres, Rochester commissioner of recreation and youth services.

“There’s a real effort across the country to make fitness a more public activity and to have it be publicly accessible,” Lyman-Torres said. “This is, you know, a public park, accessible to anyone. You don’t need a membership. You don’t need to do anything other than to come to the park.”

The city of Rochester has made space available in Cobbs Hill Park for the fitness court, and MVP is footing the bill for the equipment in exchange for its name and branding on the facility’s exterior.

“It’s just very important to us to give back to the community, to help people get fit, and to encourage them to go outside and use the equipment,” Donnelly said.

One of the city’s aims in providing the space, said Lyman-Torres, is an effort to equalize health outcomes across city populations and neighborhoods. Areas of the city with lower incomes tend to also have less access to exercise facilities and lower indicators of community health, she said.

“Equity and access is at the center of all of our plans with everything we’re trying to do with park activation right now,” Lyman-Torres said. “This just fits right into that. Access to fitness -- access to wellness -- is not equitable in our community at large, and we are working really hard to create points of access everywhere throughout the city.

Cobbs Hill Park lies in a census tract with a median income above the city’s average. Lyman-Torres said that’s not relevant to ease of access for people living in areas of the city with lower health metrics. Locating the city’s first fitness court in Cobbs Hill puts it in a central location accessible to people across Rochester, Lyman-Torres said.

“We’re going to do a lot of work in particular to bring kids -- young people -- to the park to use the equipment,” she said. “Parks are something that’s universal and accessible to everyone.”