Parcourses – Where have they gone?

Do you know what a parcourse is? Funnily enough, when I came across one a few weeks ago around the edges of a college campus, I thought how neat. Then I followed the course around and wondered why we didn’t have more of them. So I did some research and here’s what I found out:

The parcourse is a running course with exercise stations. They were the brain child of a Swiss architect named Erwin Weckemann. He designe dan exercise course with 20 wood and metal exercise stations scattered at varying intervals along a dirt jogging trail.

The idea was that runners would jog along from station to station. They would pause at each station and perform the exercise described there from side way jumps to push ups to calf raises and chin ups. Herr Weckemann then enlisted the sponsorship of the Vita life insurance company to sponsor the building of the first parcourse.

Circuit Training Live and In Color

The stations would contain specific instructions to perform the exercise. The stations were also planned to keep the heart rate up and to provide an overall workout by the end of the course. By the 1970s, there were more than 200 parcourses in Switzerland. The first parcourse to be built in the United States was erected in San Francisco’s Mountain Lake Park. By the 1980s there were more than 4500 of these parcourses were in existance in the United States.

So what happened to all of them? 4500 is a lot to just vanish. The problem is, that home exercise equipment began to sell like hot cakes in the 1980s and 1990s and even more than that, fitness gyms began to pop up in dozens of locations in major cities.

Still, the idea of doing a fully balanced workout in the fresh air on a mile circuit that takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete sounds almost too good to be true. I am inspired now, after doing th research and having visited one of these coures here in the Dallas area – I want more. I think city and publics works would be served by adding more parcourses to our local parks than they would be to worry about whether you have enough money to join a gym.

Do you know of a parcourse in your local area?

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.

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