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By Meghan Godby

Thanks to the mild temperatures we’ve been having lately, we’re not just limited to snow sports this winter. In fact, outdoor recreation opportunities abound. This is a great time to make some progress towards your health and fitness goals; January may be over, but we can still piggyback on the magic of a New Year.

As you may have guessed, however, this is also prime time for local gyms and recreation centers. And as facilities experience an influx of new members, this can translate into more crowds and potentially longer wait times for fitness equipment.

Does this mean your workouts need to be on the backburner? Absolutely not. While you’re waiting for the New Year rush to wear off, consider heading to Hayward Park, located on the corner of West 29th Avenue and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. Thanks to a $5,000 grant from Jefferson County Public Health, the five-acre park now boasts two pieces of outdoor fitness equipment - an elliptical and a static combo station.

The equipment, which was purchased from Greenfields Outdoor Fitness and installed in November of 2017, takes up a small footprint but still allows for a full body workout. The elliptical may lack the fancy screens and controls found at traditional fitness centers, but it will still help you squeeze in some cardio and strengthen your lower body. The static combo station can accommodate up to three people at once and allows for a complete upper body and ab workout  (think sit-ups, pull-ups and dips), with no need for extra weights or special accessories.

Matt Anderson, analyst for Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation, helped land the grant and is excited to bring this equipment to the community.

“Since [it] is so new, we have not received much feedback yet,” Matt explained, “but the goal of this project is to increase physical activity for residents and employees near Hayward Park."

The two stations have explanatory signage, so you won’t be scratching your head trying to figure out how to use it. The equipment is suitable for most persons over the age of 14 (as always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program), but Hayward Park has a small playground to entertain any younger members of your group.

If you’re feeling up to it, consider heading over to Crown Hill Park once you’re done. The 242-acre park is just a few blocks away. Featuring a wildlife sanctuary and miles of trails (paved and unpaved), it’s the perfect end to your workout. At the end of the day, not only will you have gotten some fresh air, but you’ll also have worked every major muscle group.

And the best part? It didn’t cost a dime.