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Modernised fitness area in the midst of the Bad Rappenau saline gardens

© playfit GmbH

Since the horticultural show in Bad Rappenau in 2008, the three large park areas, the so-called saline, spa and castle gardens - have become attractive excursion destinations for both young and old providing them with an oasis for body, spirit and soul on an area of 28.5 hectares. Ten years after the show, a modernised fitness area has been established in the midst of the saline gardens.

The saline gardens are located on the grounds of the former Bad Rappenau salt production facilities. One year after the closure of the salt works in 1972 and the demolition of the boiling houses, a park with lawn areas and tree population was landscaped. On the occasion of the horticultural show in 2008 the entire site was reshaped and redeveloped. The redesign was to reflect the former salt production of Bad Rappenau. To this effect, brine gardens were created in the Schwarzberg area reflecting the "salt, brine und health" topic through shrubs and grasses with the square arrangement of the flowerbeds symbolising the former salt production. 


Bad Rappenau focuses on health

Apart from a variety of attractive sensory stimuli, the design concept of the saline gardens provides a series of different offerings with a clear focus on health promotion. The attractive lavender labyrinth which is one of the main attractions, and not only for sensory stimulation, is situated on the southern slope of the saline gardens. With its bright blossoms it represents the form of a Baltic wheel. The intensive lavender scent has a calming and relaxing effect. Besides, it has been shown that lavender has a healing effect on internal unrest and stress. Faced with stress, our body increasingly releases the hormone cortisol. But even five minutes of taking in the intensive lavender scent are enough to reduce cortisol concentration.

From here within an eyesight a path bordered by beautiful magnolia takes the visitors directly to the next aesthetic and health-promoting attraction of the park, the graduation works. The building, which is probably unique throughout Baden-Wuerttemberg consists of a wooden construction, equipped with 5,000 bundles of sloe sticks. This so-called open-air inhalatorium enriches the ambient air with the healing Bad Rappenau brine trickling down from the bundles of sticks, which is said to especially help ease the problems of respiratory diseases. The approximately 30-metre-long and eight-metre-high facility in the environment of which the visitors can inhale healthy "sea air", helps to promote peoples' health. Especially allergy sufferers and persons suffering from asthma will benefit from its healing effect on their respiratory tracts.

In the adjacent "time forest" the barefoot path with its twelve fields stimulates the visitors to try out the different floor types, such as sand, grass, wooden planks or mulch.


Fitness in the park

Those who want to do even more for their health will find different types of outdoor fitness equipment in the midst of the saline gardens. At the end of May 2019, south of the brine gardens, the attractively redesigned fitness area with its new playfit outdoor fitness equipment was opened to public visitors. It was in March 2019 when the Municipal Council of Bad Rappenau approved the redevelopment of this area whereupon on April 24 the demolition works of the rather outdated old facilities began. After a construction period of less than one month the opening of the redesigned fitness park could be celebrated. 

The eight new training devices have been selected jointly by the Municipality and the department of physical and occupational therapy of Salinenklinik, a local specialist hospital. The concept of the new fitness park offers three training functions: stamina, strength and free workout. For the stamina workout, the following playfit devices were chosen: the Walker, the Elliptical and the Sit and Cycle. The chest and back muscles can be specifically improved by using the upper body torso exerciser called Sit and Push, i.e. by pulling and pushing. The back massager loosens the trained muscles and has a massage effect on the fasciae. But also other exercises can be trained on this devices, such as specific leg muscles training. The free training area has been equipped with a balance trainer and a Calasthenics system. 

Thus the fitness park provides a wide-ranging user group of all generations of different ambitions and with different skills with manifold open air training options.

The fitness park has been designed to allow young and old people to exercise and stay fit, says Michael Gehrmann (Head of the Department for Physical and Occupational Therapy of the Salinenklinik Hospital) during the opening ceremony. “It is particularly the elderly persons who often find it difficult to train with their own weight", explained Gehrmann. Therefore, a recumbent ergometer has been installed especially for older people. The respective counterpart for youngsters is the so-called elliptical Ergocross device. “For many individuals the Calisthenics area is a kind of stopover during their walks or rounds through the saline gardens ". This system includes wall bars, a hand-overhand-ladder and two horizontal bars. It is here where the main focus is on training one’s own body weight, if one’s own forces allow to do so. 

The basic idea of the concept is to attract adults of different age groups, who don’t necessarily want to enrol in a fitness studio, says Olivia Edwards, employee of the Civil Engineering Office.

However, the operator of a public fitness park has to comply with the relevant safety and liability regulations and must only select devices which meet all necessary requirements of the safety standard DIN EN 16630:2015 for permanently installed fitness equipment.

Due to the negative experience with sandstone floors in fitness areas, in this specific case it was decided to use shell limestone. In addition, safety mats were put under the Calisthenics devices. 

The park benches installed in the fitness area invite to have a rest after the training session. Thus, those visitors with less sports ambition may first observe the sporting actions and possibly feel motivated to join and try out the fitness equipment themselves in order to experience the benefit of exercising. But it is not only the park benches which convert this fitness area into a meeting point and place for communication across all generations. A study carried out in 2011 by the state government of Hesse about the effects of fitness parks on elder people without sporting ambitions showed that - apart from the very positive results regarding the physical abilities and psychological wellbeing of the test persons - that the fitness park was characterised by ist users  as a "village well where nice and friendly people can always meet without great fanfare“.

Head Mayor Sebastian Frei finds it very important that not only visitors, spa guests and patients of the rehabilitation clinic benefit from the fitness park, but also the inhabitants of Bad Rappenau themselves. “In future we want to do more in this direction", he emphasises. And to add to it, the mayor himself has already tested the fitness equipment. “This is a place where people can get well and stay healthy“ he believes. „Our city would like to be a place of recovery and health maintenance", he added. “And this fits well with the saline gardens." 


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