Exercise and unwind in the Campus park: The BUGA [Federal horticultural show] Heilbronn has come up with innovative sports facilities under the oldest trees in town, created based on the unusual combination of a gradation tower and calisthenics facilities.
Genuine pull ups
by Jürgen Bröker
Dr. Peter Preuß, University Sports Manager of the University of Bonn in the former federal capital, was immediately enthused by Kuck's concept. "This is just what we have been seeking for our sports facilities," he says. He and his colleagues have discovered ultimately that demand for sports facilities in the open air is constantly increasing. However, Dr. Preuß was not interested in creating a playground for adults. Nor is he keen on cross trainers which are suitable for outdoor use. It had to be a course which can be used to promote training outside in the fresh air. "We considered it important that the exercises, which would be possible, should make sense," says Dr. Preuß.
It must be said that there are a variety of suppliers in this sector. However, it was the materials from which he produces his system and the concept behind it, based on sound Sports Science principles, which won the day for Kuck. "We wanted a course which would blend in with Nature," says Dr. Preuß. He is especially pleased that apparatus stood on the spot under the tall trees already forty years ago. Two old parallel bars bear witness to that past age. "This was the old gymnastics practice area. There were also several barbells for strength training," says Dr. Preuß.
Michael Kuck smiles. He cannot help himself. It feels so good to see his ideas turned into reality. Kuck is standing on a soft floor made of wood chips. In front of him three square-edged wooden pillars tower up to the heights. In between them are bars made from stainless steel. "This is a classic: the equipment for pull ups," he says and a few seconds later the sports scientist is hanging on the bar, has grasped the rungs and is pulling himself up on it. For a second there is even a little bit of blue sky above him.
Kuck's training equipment course has been developed for Nature. "The first idea goes back six years," says Kuck. At that time he was working on his final thesis at the German Sport University in Cologne. Because he had always included in his own training programme strong boughs of trees, flights of stairs and anything else suitable for working out in the open air, he wrote about the design for a strength training system in the open air with particular regard to the Sports Science aspects.
The result of these reflections now stands essentially in Bonn. "Until 2012 I worked on refining the first idea, to develop the course further. Now I have got it, as it should be," says Kuck. In total eight stations have been constructed, each station corresponding to a different group of muscles in the body. There are exercises to strengthen the triceps and likewise stations to train the chest muscles or the torso. One's own body functions as a variable weight in this system. "Depending, for example, on where I put my feet on the station for press-ups, the exercise becomes easier or more difficult," says Kuck.
The individual elements of the course are actually self-explanatory. Nonetheless, every station has a clear information sign, showing the exercise in images, the muscle group concerned and any additional special information. "If you have a Smartphone in your pocket, you can use QR code to watch a video on the signs, which will explain how the exercise is supposed to be carried out," says Kuck.
The whole thing is slightly reminiscent of the old keep-fit trails or 'Trimm-Dich' paths of the 1970's. In their heyday there were a good 1,500 of such paths. Most of them have rotted away in the meantime
or have been taken down again.
"I am certainly not the first to have discovered the issue of fitness training in the open air," says Kuck. But he claims that his stations have been put together in accordance with the most up-to-date knowledge in Sports Science. Anyone can train on them. "A performance-minded athlete
or a beginner each will be thoroughly satisfied."
At home in the Eifel Kuck has another piece of equipment. He calls it the multi-press. Strength athletes can use it to train with more versatility and variety. Sports clubs from the surrounding area have already tested it exhaustively. However, at a cost of some 16,000 Euros the equipment is on he one hand an additional large investment. "On the other hand, you may train on it only under supervision. This has been specified by the Technical Inspection Association, the TÜV, because you can install various loads on it," says the young entrepreneur.
He cannot yet make a living from his idea and so Kuck is working as a sports teacher in a grammar school, but he is optimistic that his company will soon be producing more income. He has his sights on local authorities, large clubs or hotel and holiday facilities as potential takers for his "outdoor fitness course", to give his system its official name. The idea still has plenty of potential. Therefore Kuck is even able to envisage training fitness instructors or developing special training plans for his system.
In any case Peter Preuß is convinced by the concept. The University Sports Department in Bonn has invested around 20,000 Euros in the equipment park. Even if the temperatures this spring are not exactly inviting for sport in the open air, he says that the time of the open air fitness studio will come, and even so now and again a few athletes can be seen disporting themselves on the equipment. Already even the first sceptics have been convinced. When the equipment was constructed, a University sports colleague stood there and ridiculed the whole project, explains Preuß. But in the meantime the colleague has changed his opinion. "He now trains regularly on the system," says Dr. Preuß.
Photos: Kuck Fitness - Outdoor Sport