Elevate Fitness Course, a circuit of "ninja warrior" style obstacles, may have opened in July in Apex, but work is still being done to fine tune the course and design programs to help people use it.
Still, crowds came out July 8 to mark the opening at Apex Community Park and they've been coming ever since, said Jen Pintello, owner of Apex Peak Performance Fitness and Nutrition, who has been helping to design programs there.
"Last night, when were leaving, there were 10 teenagers waiting to storm the course," she said the other day. "That’s cool."
'Ninja Warrior inspired'
Inspired by the popular obstacle course fitness trend, Elevate Fitness features a variety of pieces called, for instance, the "lava leap" or "jungle pipeline," where participants can jump, balance and climb.
It's designed with teens in mind - ages 13 and up - because of the size and difficulty of the devices. But younger kids are having plenty of fun here, though they might not be big enough to reach up or use the equipment as intended.
The course, which stretches 60 feet by 80 feet, comes to Apex thanks to a partnership with Burke Playground Equipment, who created the course, and locally owned Barrs Recreation, a family-owned business that is the exclusive seller of Burke playgrounds in North Carolina and South Carolina. ( The Barrs family also owns Woodplay of the Carolinas, which sells residential playsets).
Earlier this year, Barrs learned that Burke was looking for a location for a national test site to try out an obstacle course designed for teens. Carolynne Barrs, who owns Barrs Recreation and lives in Apex, jumped at the opportunity.
Apex leaders have been working to offer more programs and venues that appeal to teens, who can be a hard-to-reach demographic. The town opened a stakeboard plaza in 2015.
"As soon as they shared the kind of equipment and the age group they were targeting, we were super excited," Barrs said. "We knew it would fit in with Apex with the goals they have there."
Work to be done
Though the course is open, there is still work to be done. Barrs said it will be closed for two days this week - Thursday and Friday - for some work.
And through mid-August, Pintello is continuing to lead a pilot group of teenagers through workouts on the course as she designs programs that the town of Apex will eventually offer to residents and non-residents as part of its park activity offerings. The town plans to offer formal programs to both teenagers and adults, including seniors, on the course.
Pintello said the course is designed different abilities and strengths.
"Every obstacle has three levels and we’re learning more and more as we’re out there," she said.
For instance, at the monkey bars, the easiest level is traversing the wall while holding on to the bars. The second level would be swinging across the monkey bars themselves. And the third level would be grabbing hold of "door knobs," instead of the bars, to move across the obstacle.
Arm strength, she said, is required for the monkey bars. Grip strength also is necessary to hold on to the trickier door knobs.
Participants in Pintello's pilot class were evaluated at the start of the course to determine their level. At the end, they'll be evaluated to measure their gains. They typically run through the course several times during their twice-a-week sessions.
"Hopefully, their balance is going up, their strength is going up and it's easier and easier as they go through it," Pintello said.
Pintello anticipates building out courses and workout programs that take advantage of the range of exercises offered at the course.
Barrs said they also are working to create online programs that people, who aren't able to sign up for a class or program, can download and follow on their own. She hopes that, by September, workouts and video clips will be available online to so people can see the range of activities available on the course.
"We'll constantly update it with new and different ways to use each piece of equipment," she said.
More could come
Barrs said she's also gotten interest from parks across North Carolina, including some in the Triangle, about building other fitness courses. So we could see more of these across the region.
Barrs said she's thrilled with the reception so far. And, though the course is designed for teens and up, she's happy to see younger kids out there, working out with older siblings, family and friends.
"This can really incorporate the entire family. Every time I go out there, there are all ages on it," Barrs said. "It's always packed, and I love it."
The course at 2200 Laura Duncan Rd., Apex, is open to the public and free to use. It will be closed Thursday and Friday (July 27 and July 28), but will reopen Saturday. It is closed 3 p.m .to 5 p.m., Monday and Wednesdays, through mid-August for the pilot training program.