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Be Well Path now open to all in Windom

Community members try out the body weight powered fitness eqiupment along Windom's new Be Well Path during the hospital's June grand opening. (Special to The Globe)1 / 3
Windom Area Hospital Community Health and Wellness Coordinator Jamie Medina demonstrates a balance-centered piece of equipment that engages users' cores along the hospital's new Be Well Path around its campus. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)2 / 3
Windom Area Hospital Community Health and Wellness Coordinator Jamie Medina demonstrates how body weight is used to get a strength workout along the hospital's new Be Well Path. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)3 / 3

WINDOM — In one-of-a-kind fashion, Windom-area residents and visitors of all ages and ability levels now have paved access to a healthy lifestyle regardless of socioeconomic status.

There’s no gym membership required to walk, run, bike and weight train along Windom Area Hospital’s new Be Well Path — a two-third mile paved loop around the hospital’s campus complete with permanent outdoor strength-training equipment.

“(The path) is a step toward community health and wellness for us,” said WAH Community Health and Wellness Coordinator Jamie Medina about the hospital’s overall objective in undertaking the project.

From youths to seniors to canines, the path is designed to stimulate a workout for users of all populations and demographics, said WAH Community Health and Wellness Coordinator Amber Hughes.

It’s hard to miss the bright-colored strength and cardiovascular equipment dispersed throughout the trail. From a bike and elliptical, to tricep dip and push-up bars, to lat pulldown and row, trail users have the opportunity to get a total body workout with the trail’s 14-piece, 22-station bodyweight-resistance-powered equipment.

WAH Marketing and Events Coordinator Emily Saffert said the equipment was strategically installed with families in mind.   

“That way a family can workout together and don’t have to be split up,” she said of the multi-piece stations.  

The position of the equipment was also installed with consideration of the hospital’s rehabilitation department, which will periodically use some of it.  

The space between stations will also allow users to tailor the use to their fitness ability. Gaps between stations will allow for more intense interval training, or allow a periodic break between one strength station and the next.

Each piece of equipment includes pictorial user instructions.

Pets are allowed on the trail, which has two pet waste stations. The trail is also equipped with two benches and two bike racks.

The trail will remain open from sunrise to sunset year-round. However, it will not be maintained during winter months.

Saffert said a variety of individuals — from hospital staff, to patients’ family members, to community organizations and members — have made use of the new trail since its mid-June grand opening.

“I’ve seen someone on it anywhere from as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 8 or 9 p.m., depending on daylight hours,” Saffert said. “Those who have used it have come and told us how wonderful of an experience they’ve had with it.”

Those positive comments help support Hughes’ belief that the Be Well Path is as an asset that helps fill an existing lack of designated city walking/biking infrastructure.  

“This is a definite bonus feature that the hospital is proud to have on its campus that is open for all residents to encourage physical activity,” she said.

In the long term, Hughes hopes that if the city does complete its own walking/biking trail projects, those can connect to the hospital’s Be Well Path to create a network of paths to further support a safe and active environment.  

Hughes added that the trail is not only for the community, but also provided by it

WAH was able to temporarily fund the to-date completion of the path in a series of phases. Since beginning the project, Saffert said the hospital has been gracious to receive financial contributions from a variety of sponsorships, including corporate grants, local businesses, private individuals and in-kind services.

To recognize donors’ support, WAH integrated its contributors into the path’s design. The billboard at the start of the path and an engraved stone both display path sponsors. In the future, organizers also plan to signify equipment sponsors on each piece along the path.

The books to donate are still open, as organizers have already identified possible future trail enhancements, including a fountain pond and more equipment.

“We’ve already had a lot of fun with it,” Medina said. “It can only go up from here.”

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