Online Resources are now LIVE

Two fitness experts collaborate to produce an online exercise database to help residents learn how to use the Windermere Community Fitness Park

Windermere Community Fitness Park is unique among outdoor fitness installations in Vancouver for a couple of reasons. It was designed by Windermere PE Director Brad White to provide a full-body workout for up to 30 high school students, Vancouver’s first outdoor PE classroom. The fitness park also the first to include online resources to help students and the local community learn to use the equipment in real time. Simply walk up to any station, scan the QR code with your smart phone, and you’ll be taken to a page showing animations of many of the exercises you can learn to master on that station. Walk around, scan and learn, put together a workout! 

So, how did the online resources system for Windermere Community Fitness Park come into being? The first and biggest factor was a chance collaboration between Brad White and local resident William Vrabel, an NSCA-certified personal trainer, now retired, who’d been employed as an instructor in public fitness centres for 35 years.

William describes it this way. “While working as a public trainer I developed a system so that even absolute beginners could feel confident and informed when using fitness centres.” He goes on to say, “When Brad knocked on our door asking for community involvement, we donated and I got involved as I had time on my hands and a skillset that matched the needs of the project.”

The result is the Windermere Community Fitness Park website and online resources system, complete with video-based animations and instructions detailing each exercise. The website was launched last year in an effort to boost fundraising, while the online information system began to come together this summer after the fitness park was open. “We needed someone to perform the exercises while I shot video”, says William. “Brad was the perfect demo-guy. Besides possessing major ‘cred factor’ as a respected educator, he has perfect form and yogi-like body control, flexibility and strength.” He adds with a laugh, “the guy’s a real freak of nature!”

The videos of Brad demonstrating the exercises were shot over a couple of sessions at the newly opened fitness park this past summer. Once the shooting was complete, William went to work isolating a snippet of video for each exercise showing ideal form and progression. Brad wanted to avoid the extra yearly cost and security issues of hosting video content off site with a third-party hosting service. “Youtube and Vimeo were not options for this project so I had to come up with an alternative to video for the exercises. That solution involved the laborious process of creating a small-file-size animated GIF image representing each exercise.” More than a month and 100 animated GIFs later, the first “volume” of fitness park exercises was ready to share.

This spring Brad and William plan to add more exercises to those listed on the website. “It’s an ongoing project and we have new ideas all the time for what to add”, says William, “Developing this resource is a labour of love, and we are getting feedback already that suggests the community loves what we’ve come up with!”

Brad White compiled a spreadsheet of exercises for each of the 16 stations of the fitness park, which was converted into the publication on the left. There are more exercises in this database than have been represented by the animations. This spring, these additional exercises will be filmed and new animations will be added to the website.