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15.02.2015 - Ausgabe: 1/2015

Outdoor exercise paradise in Norway


It was in 2012 that Even Aarethun first heard of the Motorikpark™ concept; he was inspired and decided to introduce the idea to Norway.

Together with his family, Even Aarethun runs a sports-orientated holiday park that offers holiday homes, pitches for caravans and tents and a sports hotel that can be used by clubs and youth groups. He decided to construct a Motorikpark™ to extend the already wide-ranging activity programme he offers, which includes hiking, cycling, kayaking, fishing and other such attractions.

It is known that in an appropriate (activity-stimulating) ambience, the development of motor skills and the acquirement of sports-specific abilities can be promoted whereby an infrastructure that encourages users to exercise can play a particularly important role. This concept for popularising outdoor exercise has been largely neglected and has undergone little change since it originally emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in the form of fitness and keep-fit trails. A Motorikpark™ with its sports science-based innovative approach offers new alternatives in this area by providing nearly all age and target groups with the opportunity for comprehensive, self-organised development of their motor abilities. The considerable appeal of this strategy is attributable to the practical relevance of the sports theory-based concept and its combination with innovative ideas and attractively designed, challenging exercise equipment.

One special feature of Even Aarethun's Motorikpark™ is its specific location. The site is in the municipality of Lærdal at the head of Norway's Sognefjord in very picturesque surroundings. Lærdal is famous for its small historic centre and the various timber-built structures.

In addition to the Motorikpark, the site also has an illuminated inline asphalted track that can be used by all generations with appropriate vehicles, including pedal go-karts and cycles, and is iced over in winter for ice skating. There is also a large playground designed for children of various ages.


40 exercise stations


The Lærdal Motorikpark has more than 40 exercise stations at which various muscle groups can be trained. So that users can warm up first, there are 'different walking' surfaces to be negotiated. This can be followed by a visit to the balance centre and a 'water-ski wall '.A balancing trail with climbing tour and the central proprioception arena form the core of the exercise-orientated park. And for those interested in putting on muscle, there is also the strength training pavilion. A tour taking in all of the attractions lasts about 2 hours.

There are currently twelve Motorikparks offering 25 - 40 exercise stations that are arranged in a specific sequence in compliance with sports science concepts. With the help of landscape architects, these parks have been carefully incorporated in their natural surroundings using the existing site configurations. The objective in each case is to put in place a quite distinctive semi-natural exercise oasis. The overall effect is designed to appeal to passive visitors who, it is hoped, may then be enticed to actively use certain of the exercise stations. The equipment at the various stations is mainly constructed from natural materials, such as wood and stone. In the past, the funding has been provided by state governments, local authorities and tourism associations.

The sports science principles underlying the Motorikpark concept are that to be attractive, a contemporary exercise park must set new standards in both qualitative and quantitative terms and provide users with opportunities for multidimensional adaptation of its attractions to their own needs. Alone the appearance of the site and individual stations are designed to arouse visitors' interest and contribute towards the fun of exercising. The combination of equipment and stations offered at a Motorikpark must motivate users to exercise and provide them with the option of balanced and harmonious physical exercise and development. Innovative equipment and clearly demarcated exercise areas are provided for each of the physical activities while the individual modules represent creative components of an always apparent overall concept. The sequence in which each station is to be visited is stipulated in accordance with the sports science-based approach but can be altered if users have their own personal training objective. The main exercise forms (all of which are designed to promote pleasure in physical activity) are: creative warm-up, diverse forms of coordination training, the opportunities offered by dysbalance, flexibility rapidity as a fundamental aspect of fitness, enjoyable strength training, and development of stamina through play. The fundamental idea is to offer users diverse and unusual exercises through which they can explore the concepts of differentiation, connectivity and transposition. And there are particularly interesting options that provide for an efficient 'differential learning' approach (Schöllhorn 1998).

Every piece of apparatus and station bears a signboard that explains its purpose in sports science terms, its use and also other appropriate alternatives for employing the equipment.


More exercise


The inline track in the sports holiday park in Norway is a circular trail with several crosslink sections that enable users to discover and take a different route each time. The track is iced over in winter and provided with floodlighting.

The design of the playground equipment is also quite special. There are three pieces of equipment that appeal to different age groups while the large play area is targeted specifically at older children. The play area has a roof over it that provides protection against the sun, UV radiation, rain and snow. Coloured translucent circles are incorporated in the roof that allow light in different hues to enter the area. There is a circular track with different surfaces and bridge-like shortcuts and a variety of different ascending and descending sections. The most striking of these is the Y-shaped slide.

Provided for younger children are a sandpit that is designed along similar lines in combination with a little village of kid-size huts.


And finally...


We'll let Even Aarethun sum up: "The Motorikpark concept is an excellent practical realisation of the differential learning approach. Recent research shows that it constantly confronts ‒ in light-hearted form ‒ body and mind with a variety of new challenges and thus motivates users to continuously adapt themselves to different situations.

By being constantly animated to discover new situations and master these, users are gradually and playfully guided towards learning that the important thing is not to worry about their own shortcomings but to realise that every moment can be used as an opportunity for improvement. Users can discover, much to their own surprise, what their body is capable of and even skills they didn't know they had. Every Motorikpark thus represents a new and genuine challenge! And the extent of that challenge and the diversity that a Motorikpark in scenic surroundings can offer is remarkable. Just look at our Motorikpark in Norway!"


Images: merry go round™




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