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16 Jan 2024
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The Isle of Palms is a perfect place to get fit.  Of course there’s nothing quite like the ocean and beach to beckon you outside, for all kinds of healthy exercise.  There’s swimming, wave jumping, walking, running, biking, boating, sandcastle building, beach bocce, boogie boarding, kayaking, surfing… well, you get the idea.  It’s a bountiful array.

Besides the beach, the Isle of Palms is also blessed to have a very “active” Rec Center.  It’s conveniently located right in the middle of the island, at 24 28th Avenue.  And the good news is, you don’t have to be a resident to make use of their many facilities and programs. 

Photo credit: the Beginner’s Challenge of the Fitness Court app

Here’s some of what they offer: indoor and outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, softball and baseball fields (also used for kickball), soccer field, large playground, fenced-in Bark Park, cardio room and gymnasium.

Well, the Rec Center just cut the ribbon on a brand new feature, and it’s an exciting one.  It’s called The Fitness Court.

How Did It Come About?

It’s the brainchild of a group called the National Fitness Campaign, also known as NFC, who makes it their mission to improve the physical health and wellbeing of people all over the country.  Established in 1979, the NFC is made up of talented and committed designers, builders and consultants who create world class fitness facilities.  By teaming up with cities, towns, schools and generous sponsors, they’re able to provide free access to these facilities for people of all ages.  It’s the largest public-private wellness partnership in the country, and it’s brought together more than $110 million in funding toward their goal.

NFC provided the City of Isle of Palms a grant to create the Fitness Court.  The City then matched the amount of the grant, work commenced in earnest, and the ceremonial grand opening ribbon was cut in mid-December of 2023.

IOP is one of only two in the whole state

The Isle of Palms Fitness Court is just the second Fitness Court to be built in the state of South Carolina.  The other one is in Aiken. 

The NFC has built 411 fitness courts across America, with many more in the planning stages; in fact, they have their 500th one in the works.  They have a pretty lofty goal: to fund and create a free Fitness Court so that by the year 2030, there’s at least one within a ten-mile bike ride of every person in the United States.  Here’s hoping they succeed.

So what exactly is The Fitness Court?

Glad you asked.  Basically, it’s a really cool outdoor gym professionally designed to give you a maximum workout in minimum time.

More specifically, it’s a system of adaptive body weight circuit training.  The system is set up around seven basic movements.  They are:

1)    Core

2)    Squat

3)    Push

4)    Lunge

5)    Pull

6)    Agility

7)    Bend.

How does it work?

Basically, you rotate through seven movements, and in the process you end up getting a full body workout in only 7 minutes. 

 Along the back wall, there are illustrated exercises that outline what to do, as well what muscle groups you’ll be working with each one.

Or if you’d rather, there’s a more high tech approach… 

Yes, There’s an App For That!

The NFC has created a free app that really enhances your Fitness Court experience.  It’s like having a personal trainer with you, who demonstrates each movement.  In the app, you can score points and win prizes.  In fact, as you track the time you spend working out at the Fitness Court, you can help your city and state compete to be the healthiest in America.  

The free app is called “Fitness Court” (Free Outdoor Gyms Nationwide) and is available for iOS and Android.  After you download, you can specify your age and gender.  It will tailor your challenges to your particular fitness level.

To check in, just step inside the Fitness Court.  Open the app, tap on the Check-in icon, and confirm.  (You’ll need to give the app location permission in Settings).

A beginning challenge would include the following: 1) Bird Dog at the Core Station, 2) Standing Plank at the Squat Station, 3) Tricep Press at the Push Station, 4) Vertical Twist at the Lunge Station, 5) Single Arm Row at the Pull Station, 6) Broad Jump at the Agility Station, and 7) Side Bend at the Bending Station.

The Rec Center is for Visitors, Too

The Isle of Palms Rec Center has a new director, Karrie Ferrell, who’s been on staff for years and was recently promoted to the top job.  She spoke about the new Fitness Court at the ribbon cutting.  “This project was important to me and staff to allow the Recreation Department to be the fitness hub of the island.  Giving everyone an opportunity for fitness.  The Fitness Court is designed for all age groups and all levels of fitness.  It can be a quick workout for a busy fitness enthusiast or designed for someone starting their fitness journey.”

She also made a point that all are welcome to use the facilities, whether you live on the island or not.  “We are so happy to be here and able to provide all these outdoor opportunities for our residents and to visitors alike.”

So check out the Rec Center and the new Fitness Court here on the Isle.  You are more than welcome.


All best,
Lowcountry Lisa

your Isle of Palms vacation blogger