As the virtues of outdoor living continue to be embraced amid present surrounds, the formal launch of the Athlone Regional Sports Centre fitness park in recent times is both a positive and timely development for members of the local community.
Boasting a wealth of exercise options, the outdoor fitness park, a focal point for the community during pandemic times, affording exercise opportunities for individuals of all ages and ability levels to embrace a healthy and active lifestyle, complements the existing offering within Athlone Regional Sports Centre which recently reopened its doors to allow pre-booked gym and swimming pool use for members (in line with present public health guidelines ).
Formally launching Phase One of the outdoor fitness park, Athlone Town Mayor, acknowledging the pandemic related difficulties experienced by many, stated the importance of such a facility within the local community.
“Much planning and considerable investment has been afforded to this superb outdoor fitness park facility. Completed in 2020, the timing for use of this facility was inspiring, available to those who needed it most. It is receiving regular use and is already a much loved public amenity within Athlone.
“What I thoroughly appreciate about this fitness park is the connection with community. I know that many groups and organisations are involved in different ways with the park - I recently helped Athlone Tidy Towns to rake the ground before we planted wild flower seeds adjacent to the road.
Athlone Family Resource Centre, the Girl Guides, Athlone Hockey Club, St Hilda’s, Athlone Soroptimists and many more will, in time, I’m sure use this all embracing fitness park.
“A wealth of thought and consideration was afforded to the design of this facility. Each time I visit, I spot a different amenity for one of my children. The variety of activities makes this park unique – every age and capacity of individual is catered for across the facility.
“Very few local authorities can boast the kind of sports and activity campus we have developed here between the sports centre, hockey pitches, skate park, playground, and town park with more enhancements to come. We are the envy of most other towns and cities in the country.
“I wish to acknowledge the board of Athlone Regional Sports Centre, under the Chairmanship of fellow Councillor, Frankie Keena. My gratitude is also expressed to Nicolas De Jong for the design, to Sole Leisure for its construction and to Liam Cunningham and colleagues for their steadfast and solid management of this project from start to finish.
“Finally, I wish all those who use this park in any capacity, every happiness in life, and good health and wellbeing for the future,” Cllr O’Rourke commented.
In his capacity as Athlone RSC Board Chairman, Cllr Frankie Keena, noted that the outdoor fitness park was a worthy addition to the wealth of options now available at the perennially popular sports campus.
“The overall cost of this project was approximately €1m with source of funding from the government under the Outdoor Recreation grant scheme and Athlone Regional Sports Centre and Westmeath County Council finances.
“Since this park was opened last year, I have received numerous positive comments from the general public who enjoy the regular use of the various exercise options in this beautiful outdoor space.
“Various groups have installed such items as team coloured knitted wraps for the trees, bird boxes and biodiversity areas, initiatives which have further enhanced this amenity.
“The Sports Centre has further plans to enhance the campus as the year progresses with the intended realisation of a community recreational hub and outdoor coffee dock and I look forward to witnessing such developments in due course,” Cllr Keena concluded.
Acknowledging the support of Westmeath County Council, Liam Cunningham, General Manager of Athlone RSC, noted that the outdoor fitness park, with its variety of activities will appeal to a myriad of users.
“The variety of activities in the fitness park will appeal to all users thus making the park a fantastic social space. We aspire to complement the existing options presently available in future times, installing more inclusive outdoor gym equipment and securing funding to develop Phases Two and Three, which will include a family obstacle course and the lighting of the trails so they can be utilised in dark winter evenings.
“Athlone RSC has developed two new five-a-side astro pitches, placing an emphasis on the surface, which will be one of the only facilities in the country to have a combination of premium level carpet, rubber infill and a shockpad underneath. This makes the surface less impactful for joints and players should have less stiffness or aches after a game as a result. The pitch is now available for bookings.
“Athlone RSC is an integral part of the community and similarly, with the fitness park, where the management of the Sports Centre are working with various local groups to enhance the community feel of the facility.
“All we do within Athlone RSC is for our community, trying to make our facilities and services better with the intention of encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle for all strands of local society. We have had a fantastic response to the fitness park and it has been brilliant to see the local community groups getting so involved,” Liam enthused.
Situated on the grounds of the Sports Centre and operated by Athlone RSC, the outdoor fitness park is in an ideal setting adjacent to the Old Rail Trail and accessible by walking or cycling.
It features a 2.5km trail with gradients (mix of tarmac with golden gravel ), 1.5km flat route (tarmac ), outdoor gym equipment for adults, outdoor equipment for children, a climbing pyramid net, a small circular half basketball court, petanque court and picnic area.