Walking off the side of the Virginia Corridor Trailway in Modesto just north of Bowen Avenue, Thomas Lopes of the ShadowChase Running Club paused to take a breath before leaping up and putting in a few reps on a pull-up bar. After Lopes finished, he continued on the trail to stop at another fitness station for some bench-dip reps.
There are six new stations along the pedestrian and cycling trail, funded by the club to help promote a healthier lifestyle: a step-up station, parallel bars, body-curl station, bench-dip station, push-up station and the pull-up bars.
“Now, instead of just running or biking or walking on the trail, people have the option to do it all,” Lopes said.
The idea came to Lopes and Jerome Hicks in 2016 while running in cities like San Francisco, where fitness stations were established on the side of some trails. Wanting to reintroduce such a workout course to Modesto (one existed in Davis Community Park decades back), Lopes eagerly brought the idea to Nathan Houx and Ken Petersen of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department.
But action on the project was stalled for a few years. “This was an ambitious project Tom brought to us,” Houx said. “I think it required a lot more work than he initially realized.”
The project required a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, from both sides and a thorough analysis of the locations at which the stations would be placed.
“The only problems we had were figuring out placement,” Houx said. “Sometimes (the stations) would be across from a bench or have utility problems. But with some moving around, we were able to easily solve those problems and move forward.”
And move forward they did — the running club raised about $53,000 from its membership fees, the Modesto Marathon proceeds and other sources to buy the materials and fund the construction. Simile Construction, API Planning and Architecture, and Phase 1 Construction worked with the club and Lopes to lay down concrete, decomposed granite and the outdoor fitness equipment at all six stations — all in just one week.
“Once we had everything planned out and ready to go, the project was really quite simple,” said Joe Simile of Simile Construction.
The fitness stations were completed June 7, and locals have responded in the best way. “We were going out to go do a final look at the stations and there were already people using almost every single one of them,” Houx said.
On each station, plaques with directions and warnings help inform those who want to use them. The signs also include pictures showing each muscle used while exercising on the equipment. The stations are spaced about a half-mile apart, allowing users to take a walk, run or bike break before stopping for another workout.
“This was so great to be involved in,” Simile said. “And it’s definitely self-serving because I run on that trail and use it every day, so now I have the stations to work out on as well.”