Medicine Hat, Alberta – The bulge in the waistlines of Canadians is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing trend. A recent Stats Can report showed 24% of Canadians over the age of 30 are obese, having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. The study determined that obesity rates in Canadian men and women have risen 10 and 8 percent respectively since the late 1980s. This trend motivated a Medicine Hat playground manufacturer, Blue Imp Recreational Products to join the fight. Blue Imp recently introduced a line of outdoor fitness equipment for adults and donated one of their first sets to CBC's Village on a Diet initiative in Taylor, British Columbia.
View the unveiling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49NjKM-psS0
Blue Imp executive Verna Scott said, "Our company has traditionally focused on playground equipment that caters to the physical fitness of children, but in the last few years there has been more demand, and greater need for, equipment designed for adult bodies." When the company heard about the health initiative in Taylor, they wanted to make a contribution. With over 60 percent of its population either overweight or obese, the town vowed to lose a ton of weight in just three months through the new television series. The challenges and successes of Taylor residents were featured in weekly episodes.
To help educate and motivate Taylor residents, a team of experts including two fitness trainers arrived on scene. Garfield Wilson was one of the trainers working with Taylor residents on the show. He said, "It was a huge help to have Blue Imp donate outdoor fitness equipment to the town of Taylor during the taping of Village on a Diet. The design is simple, sturdy and enables residents of all fitness levels the opportunity to exercise outside." He added, "This donation helped us provide Taylor with another important resource to continue their journey of health and fitness long after we're gone."
Bryant Bird, the Community Programmer for the District of Taylor, agrees. He said, "Prior to the Village on a Diet program, there was one small gym with limited access. Since the show, fitness centres and programs are expanding and experiencing a high level of interest and participation." He expects that with their renewed commitment to health, use of the equipment will only grow.
In total 11 pieces of equipment were donated to Taylor to help build strength and cardiovascular fitness. Glen Cross, a participant on the show and the main community lead for the challenge said at first he couldn't believe their luck, "When we learned we were receiving outdoor physical fitness equipment we were shocked. Not so much at the generosity of the gesture, but that a company clear across the country would reach out and offer something so magnificent to our little community."
Blue Imp's Verna Scott said that donating equipment to Taylor was a great way to launch their adult fitness line and the right thing to do. "There are a lot of communities like Taylor that do not have recreational facilities or programming for residents. In areas where they do exist the cost of accessing them can be an issue." This belief is supported by the Active Healthy Kids Canada. (www.activehealthykids.ca) They found that while well over half of Canadians agree there are appropriate programs available in their neighbourhood, 49% of parents cited cost as a barrier to using them.
The outdoor fitness systems, marketed under the IMPulse brand, should fill a need for small communities as well as urban centres. Scott said, "We have already seen strong sales in the first quarter and expect this to continue with the popularity of boot camps and individual outdoor training." She expects municipalities and school districts will begin to integrate playground and adult fitness pieces to create systems that can be used by the entire family. "Parents no longer need to sit on the benches," she said. Outdoor equipment including playgrounds can be a way for the whole family to have fun and stay active together.