JANESVILLE—Seven minutes at the fitness court will kick your butt.
You might not think a 7-minute workout would make you drip sweat like an NBA player in overtime, but when you exercise for 45 seconds, break for only 15 seconds and repeat that six more times—all under the hot sun—you will be exhausted enough to skip the gym later that night and feel good about it.
I met city Parks Director Cullen Slapak and Recreation Director Shelley Slapak on a recent morning to learn how to use the city’s fitness court at the corner of West Court and South River streets. City staff hosted demonstrations in May, June and July and have another one planned at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 9.
The demonstrations are intended to increase awareness of the fitness court, a space jointly funded by the city, SSM Health and the National Fitness Campaign that opened in June 2018. The more people working out downtown, the better, Cullen said.
The fitness court is free and open to the public. People can do their own thing, or they can download the fitness court app and follow one of several preset workouts.
The app is available for iPhones and Androids, and the workouts can be accessed online. The app’s standard workout follows the mantra of seven movements in seven minutes.
Seven movements in seven minutes. Seems simple enough. Here’s how it went for me.
1. CORE: We started with a plank that incorporated a knee-to-opposite-elbow twist. This was a good way to ease into the workout, but I could definitely feel soreness in my 2.5-pack abs after 45 seconds.
2. SQUAT: It’s important to note that many different exercises can be performed at each station. While this was the squat stop, we did box jumps instead. Users should feel free to modify the workouts as they see fit. Janesville’s fitness court offers six boxes of varying heights, from essentially a stair to a box that stood hip-high on my 5-foot-11 frame. Feeling the need to use this on-the-clock workout to the fullest, I did my jumps on the highest box. I was successful, but the 45 seconds seemed like it would never end.
3. PUSH: I was absolutely gassed after those box jumps, and I was still exasperated by the time our 15-second break ended. That’s on me. I’m not out of shape by any means, but I’m also not an Olympian. I decided to persevere through the pushups, not wanting to look bad in front of my city workout leaders.
4. LUNGE: This was a nice way to cool down. The fitness court has small, unevenly shaped boxes that users can step on during their lunges. If people prefer, they can just as easily do lunges on the flat ground.
5. PULL: If you’re feeling up to it, try doing pull-ups on a bar or the rings for 45 seconds. Not wanting to replicate my box jump mistake, I grabbed a lower pair of rings that doubled as a resistance band, TRX-type workout.
6. AGILITY: This station is probably the best example of having freedom to choose your workout. The app wanted us to do burpees, but we all cycled through high knees and hopscotch-like steps instead. The important thing? Just move.
7. BEND: For our last station, Cullen and I hopped on two objects that look like half-folded lawn chairs. With his head near the ground, Cullen did leg kicks. I kept my legs stationary, raising and lowering my upper body as our seven minutes came to a close.
I normally work out at the YMCA across the street. While the fitness court doesn’t have cardio machines or free weights, its basic outdoor equipment allows you to exercise creatively and enjoy the sunshine.
Saying the fitness court has basic equipment isn’t intended to be a negative. It gives everyone the flexibility to use the space however he or she sees fit. That option isn’t necessarily available in a gym, where a lot of machines can only be used for one purpose.
Follow the app, or don’t. Just keep moving.
As Cullen put it, fitness court workouts are as hard as you want them to be.