We discovered a Parcourse

May 15, 2008

When we moved into this awesome apartment hive, I was super-excited that they had a running track around a lovely park, and what looked like a Parcourse or fitness trail. It also turns out there’s an indoor basketball court and many lovely pools, but that’s another story. When we were still thinking about moving in, Rob expressed doubt that I would ever use the fitness amenities provided by the complex. That didn’t stop us from moving in, or stop me from running a few miles a week. We’ve also used our fair share of the pools and hot tubs.

The fitness course I saw down by the park is a “fitcore” course and has [I think] only four stations incorporating 8 exercises. It’s fun, but not exactly the adventure I was looking for. The other day we drove a back way over to the Hobee’s on Montague Expressway, which goes past an older business park. I think we’d actually been by there a few times, but this last time I realized that there was a Parcourse surrounding the building!

I should probably explain what a Parcourse is. It’s the brand-name for a type of fitness trail that incorporates a series of stations (14 in this case) on a track that you run through (I think it’s about 1.5 miles). The stations include activities like jumping jacks, push-ups, leg lifts, balance beams, etc. They were big in the 1970’s and most, like this one, are in disrepair.

We left our apartment around 9 pm (it was quite hot yesterday) and jogged over to the office park. In the dark, we jogged the course, dimly lit by street lamps. It was like solving a mystery to be jogging along, then come across a station and figure out what we were supposed to do. A few station no longer had their signs, and two of them I am uncertain what were were supposed to be doing. I’ll bring a camera next time and ask my readers what they think. I used my new Garmin 405, but I haven’t installed the software to download the workout, and I think I might not have hit the button to have the workout recorded. Oh well. I did record that it was about 2.5 miles from door to door and we were out 58 minutes.

I’m glad we went out and checked it out! I haven’t been active lately due to stress (diabetic cat, wedding, car accident). I’ve started going to chiropractic, and this course ws a great re-introduction to getting my ass off the couch!

About Parcourse:

The first U.S. Parcourse appeared in 1973 when a Bay Area real estate developer named Peter Stocker, who had seen similar installations in Europe, bolted one together in San Francisco’s Mountain Lake Park with hand-routed wooden signs. Then, around 1979, the company got a major boost when Perrier, introducing bottled mineral water to the United States and seeking to align itself with the nascent fitness boom, began financing courses (about 200 in all) in busy public locations.

At the trend’s mid-1980s peak, close to 4,500 Parcourses studded the land, along with hundreds of knockoffs sold by rival firms. There were Aqua Parcourses for swimming-pool sessions, “joint-use” Parcourses for disabled people, indoor Parcourses, cruise-ship Parcourses, and dozens of corporate-sponsored employee Parcourses, not only in the United States but in more than 25 countries the world over. These days, many have gone the way of Hacky Sacks and A Flock of Seagulls. “The courses are relics now,” says a wistful Richard Cunningham, former owner of equipment-maker Parcourse Ltd. “But there was a time when you could stand on a corner in Silicon Valley, in Santa Clara, and see four different Parcourse facilities. It was a boom time. There were probably a hundred of them in San Jose. I bet you’d have a hard time finding a dozen of them now.” Outside Magazine May, 2005.

Extra link: Parcourse retailer

By levanah