The Trust for Public Land, the New York City Housing Authority, and Mount Sinai Health System Partner to Open New York City's First-Ever Public Housing Fitness Zone® at the Carver Houses in East Harlem
Fitness Zone® Will Provide Thousands of NYCHA and East Harlem Residents with Equipment and Programming That Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
(New York, NY) - The Trust for Public Land, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), and the Mount Sinai Health System, in a unique partnership, will open New York City's first-ever Fitness Zone®, a free outdoor fitness equipment area, located at NYCHA's Carver Houses in East Harlem on Madison Avenue at 103rd street directly across from Mount Sinai Hospital. The area is also expected to support public fitness programming later this year.
The new outdoor exercise area will serve the 2,586 public housing residents at the Carver Houses, providing access to a state-of-the-art facility where East Harlem residents can engage in healthy physical activity and gather with neighbors.
"Everyone deserves the opportunity to engage in physical fitness no matter where they live," said Carter Strickland, New York State Director for the Trust for Public Land. "Given the rising trend of people exercising outdoors and the obstacles those in public housing face to being healthy, we teamed up with NYCHA and Mount Sinai Health Systems to provide East Harlem residents access to free exercise equipment right outside their front door. Nearby access can potentially transform lives and allows residents the opportunity to sculpt the future they see for themselves. Green spaces are essential infrastructure for healthy, connected, equitable, empowered communities."
The Fitness Zone is the latest project realized under NYCHA's Connected Communities program, a design initiative that's guided by a resident-led approach and public-private partnerships. Created through a participatory design process by NYCHA residents over the past two years, the Fitness Zone® is a prime example of this approach to designing outdoor space.
The outdoor equipment space at Carver Houses will feature a range of circuit training elements that include a stationary fitness bike, a free runner (lateral elliptical-like machine), a push-up and leg-lift station, plyometric steps, triple bars (accessible for those with mobility impairments) for upper body training, and a bench for core strengthening.
The East Harlem project is The Trust for Public Land's first New York City Fitness Zone®. The Trust for Public Land has built similar outdoor exercise areas in Miami and Los Angeles. The Fitness Zone® will be maintained through a five-year renewable service contract with the equipment manufacturer, Kompan, Inc., also made possible by The Trust for Public Land.
The Fitness Zone® will be located at the center of the Carver Houses development, which spans three city blocks and includes 13 residential buildings. It is immediately adjacent to three residential NYCHA buildings, including one which also houses a senior center.
"We are excited to break ground on this Fitness Zone in Carver Houses," declared NYCHA Chairman & CEO Gregory Russ, "and are grateful to have partners like the Trust for Public Land and Mount Sinai who share our commitment to providing NYCHA residents with the outdoor spaces needed to enrich their health and well-being."
NYCHA officials are currently in the process of solidifying partnerships with a local health and fitness education non-profit to develop an eventual framework for ongoing training programs. Health officials from Mount Sinai, an organization which has partnered in the past with NYCHA on providing career opportunities to residents and young people living in Carver Houses, will also advise on a training curriculum.
"Mount Sinai is committed to improving and advancing the health of our community with access to life-saving, world class care and removing barriers to effective tools for good health, wellness and quality of life," said David Reich, MD, President and Chief Operating Officer, The Mount Sinai Hospital. "The Fitness Zone will be an important resource for residents, improving opportunities for physical activity and overall weight management, and providing an environment to encourage social support and interaction. We are proud and excited to join our partners in these efforts."
The goal of creating the Fitness Zone® is to improve the health of the East Harlem community, where many residents have high rates of avoidable hospitalizations and chronic diseases, such as asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes, according to the Harlem Health Advocacy Partners (HHAP) Community Needs Assessment and a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Research published in Health and Place has shown that increased access to parks is associated with lower body mass index and reduced risk of obesity. Additionally, another Health and Place article showed that access to green space is associated with greater personal well-being and improved mental health, yielding positive effects such as reduced stress and lowered risk of depression.
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