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The AOK exercise island


The Olympiapark, originally constructed to host the 1972 Summer Olympics, is a magnet for all visitors to Munich while athletes come to experience its special atmosphere. The park itself may be the ideal venue for endurance sports but the Bavarian AOK has now supplemented the exercise options by installing in an outdoor facility nine pieces of equipment that are designed to improve stamina, coordination and the sense of balance. The various exercise stations are intended to enable users to undertake a systematic whole body training programme.

The AOK exercise island in the centre of the Olympiapark was officially opened on 10 August 2017 in the presence of a large body of the press and is now available for use by anyone as a public exercise space. "We have thus made it possible for everybody to do something for the good of their health," said Dr. Helmut Platzer, chairman of the Bavarian AOK, referring to the new attraction - the 'exercise island' as it is known.

The Bavarian AOK and Olympiapark München GmbH had already worked together in the past. The health insurer thought that it would be good idea to construct the exercise island in order to create something more permanent and local as testimony to their partnership.

"More and more people are being drawn to the ideal of fitness training in the fresh air and we have decided to take account of this trend by providing our exercise island," added Platzer with a smile during the inauguration ceremony.

A location like the Olympiapark, with its unique history and high level of use, offers considerable challenges when it comes to matters such as the preservation of its special nature and development. Every new construction project needs to be such that it blends in seamlessly with the existing infrastructure in this very popular public park. For instance, instead of the usual impact attenuation material, which is brick-red in colour, a special grass-green material has been used here.

In addition to the siting of the island within the Olympiapark, which equipment to be provided was also an important consideration. In order to appeal to as many of the vast range of groups that visit the Olympiapark as possible (athletes, walkers, families, passers-by etc.), provide for adequate exercise options for all and in view of theoretical considerations, it was decided to accommodate the needs of these different potential users by selecting the appropriate equipment. Here, the 4FCIRCLE exercise concept developed by playparc provided a precedent.

"On the 70m2 site, we wanted to have equipment with which users could improve their stamina, strength and coordination," asserted Maximilian Zoller, sport consultant to the AOK. "The idea was to encourage users to train whole muscle groups instead of just isolated muscles," he emphasized. "And these are particularly those muscles that have become attenuated because of the passive lifestyle of so many in our society."

Installed around the core section of the island, with its callisthenics/street workout stations that tend to have greater appeal for younger and more active target groups, are elements designed to be used for strength training and to improve coordination skills that allow users to take a more playful approach to health-promoting exercise. Particularly the equipment intended to exercise coordination skills, such as a balancing trail and a slackline, although inviting in appearance, have concealed effort-inducing effects so that not just the young and active but also those who usually do not take exercise will find themselves being made fit by stealth. The aims of the forms of exercise on offer are to improve the sense of balance and physical stability to counteract the risk of falling.

Making the facility thus attractive to so many groups will help ensure that it is appropriately used for a long time to come. One aspect that adds to its appeal is the fact that it is not necessary to have any previous experience of training to use the equipment. Information panels are positioned at each station that provide instructions and tips on their use.

But not just the combination of equipment and the site are important to make sure that the facility remains popular over the long term - a suitable communication strategy that makes people aware of its existence is also required. The Bavarian AOK has the necessary resources to do this. The AOK exercise island is intended to be a place both of fun and activity. The specialists of the Bavarian AOK have already developed an exercise concept that can be used at the facility. A special training course has been designed for implementation at the island; this has been accredited and is now part of the health programme of the AOK: those insured with the AOK can participate in the course free of charge.

It is also planned in future to provide videos that explain how the equipment can be used at the various performance levels. The trail, for example, can be used for exercise workshops for visitors attending locally held events.

The fitness equipment is freely accessible the whole year round.

One of the purposes of the facility is to make concrete the core brand message of the Bavarian AOK, which sees itself as the 'insurer of health'. The Olympiapark may be teeming with athletes, but here healthy activities and exercise are made available to everyone. But when it comes to promoting health through exercise, it is not enough to simply provide the equipment - users have to be shown how to correctly carry out the exercises that will improve their coordination skills and strength. The course supervisors, the station information panels and the videos make sure that this is the case.

In addition to supplementing the local exercise infrastructure, the Bavarian AOK has done more than justice to its role of regional 'disseminator' of good and sustainable health-promoting activities. On the one hand, it has provided an attractive exercise facility that can be used by every Tom, Dick and Harry whenever they feel the need to do so. On the other, by providing professional guidance elements (videos, panels and courses) it also reaches out to those who wish to undertake more intensive and targeted exercise. In this situation, everybody wins - the residents, the Bavarian AOK and the Olympiapark.

"We are delighted that the Olympiapark has gained a further attraction for those wishing to enjoy exercise," concluded Marion Schöne, the director of Olympiapark GmbH.



Image: playparc

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