Tulsa is really getting into health and fitness. Who knew? If you're the kind that pays attention to the national shaming of Oklahoma that is the national data on obesity, that might be hard to believe.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Oklahoma is the sixth-worst state for obesity rates, with one in three residents qualifying as obese. Specifically, Tulsa is number 11 on the 2012 list of the Top 25 Fattest Cities in America, according to mensfitness.com. Wow. Way to go, Tulsa. And for the record, Oklahoma City was on the same list in 2011, but now ranks number 23 on the Fittest Cities in America list. Really? We're going to let Oklahoma City make us look bad?
It is becoming painfully clear that, as a city, we need to do better in regards to our health and physical fitness. Lately, there seem to be more and more options in town for Tulsans looking for a place to get their bodies in shape. Yes, you could probably sign up for membership at one of the numerous privately-owned fitness facilities around town and that, as the great philosopher Bobby Brown once said, would be your prerogative. However, one of the most overlooked options for fitness is the local recreation center at a Tulsa city park near you.
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. It would truly be worth the effort to check out what the recreation centers are offering. One of the main advantages of utilizing the centers, according to Bob Hendrick, Special Events Coordinator for the City of Tulsa, is that they are "much more affordable, with really good equipment, plus no contracts. The locations of the recreation centers are also very convenient." The centers may not have some of the more luxurious amenities that the typical fitness facility may offer, but if you are looking for a place to get a good workout that won't do damage to your pocketbook, is conveniently located near you, and offers top-notch equipment, then the local recreation center might be a hidden gem for those looking to get fit.
Lifting and Dancing and Fitnessing
The Hicks Community Center at Hicks Park at 3443 S. Mingo Rd., for example, is a gorgeous facility that offers a ton of fitness programs, catering to everyone from the youth to the more mature and all of us in between. Outside the facility, there are lighted tennis courts, sand and grass volleyball courts, and a half-mile jogging trail.
Inside the facility, there is a weight room open to men and women ages sixteen and older (adult supervision required if under eighteen) and features a variety of cardio machines, machine weights, and free weights plus showers and day lockers for your convenience. The equipment rivals anything you might find in a membership-driven fitness facility. Affordability is the key with a five-visit pass for ten dollars and a twenty-visit pass for twenty-five dollars.
Those looking for a total body workout should check out the Cardio Mix class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With a certified instructor in place for motivation, the class stresses muscle toning and is designed for strength, flexibility, and improved stamina. The cost is only twenty-five dollars per eight visits. They have just recently added Zumba classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, as well.
A self-defense and fitness class, taught by a black-belt-certified instructor and designed for ages 12 and older, is also available if you are looking for a boot-camp style class that will get you stronger and make you more confident for only twenty-five dollars a month. The class will also increase your strength and flexibility and improve your overall fitness level.
I'll Tumble For Ya
At the Reed Community Center at 4233 S. Yukon Ave. -- in addition to the weight room that includes free weights, weight machines, treadmill, elliptical trainer, rowing machine and stationary bikes at a cost of two dollars per visit offers gymnastics and cheer classes for kids in pre-school up to 16 years old. And Reed isn't offering these classes in a room where other stuff has just been pushed out of the way. Rather, it's an 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art gymnastic center used throughout the year for classes, league gymnastics, and tournaments.
The staff at Reed also introduced a new activity they call Hooverball that utilizes a four-pound medicine ball, a traditional volleyball net, and tennis scoring. Sounds crazy, I know, but this cardio workout meets every first and third Wednesday each month from 12:30 to 1:30 pm, and, most importantly, it's free.
Outside the facility, the center has a municipal pool (Sunday water volleyball at Reed starts this June), three lighted tennis courts, a 9-hole disc golf course, sand volleyball court, and several sports fields.
So Many Choices
The Whiteside Community Center sits at 4009 S. Pittsburg Ave. and also offers lighted tennis courts, sports fields, a one-mile trail, and a public pool. And there are also Zumba classes on Wednesdays from 6-7pm, youth gymnastics, tennis lessons, martial arts training, and several aerobic classes to choose from.
In addition to the fitness classes and weight rooms, sports are also a common denominator for all the park centers, including Chamberlain, Lacy, McClure, LaFortune, and the previously-mentioned centers. Each center has hosted or sponsored dozens of adult and youth leagues and tournaments every season including basketball, flag football, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, swimming, and many more.
Mohawk Park is one of the largest parks in the city and is located at 5701 East 36th St. N. It's already home to two of Tulsa's most historic and challenging 18-hole golf courses: The Woodbine Course and the Pecan Valley Course, but the venerable park is also the beneficiary of the most recent sports-related additions to Tulsa Parks. Consisting of seventeen soccer fields with natural turf surfaces, a modern concessions building, spectator seating, free paved parking, and many other amenities, the new soccer complex is managed in partnership with the Sports Commission and the Tulsa Regional Chamber and provides yet another opportunity for physical fitness.
Another Tulsa gem is located in the heart of downtown in the Brady Arts District. Funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Guthrie Green is an urban green oasis and performance space that features a stage, tree-lined paths, shade structures, water features and a large lawn. The park is a thing of beauty, and if you haven't been there, you should go right now.
What makes the Guthrie Green even more appealing is the daily Fitness on the Green program that is absolutely free. Sponsored by Fowler Toyota of Tulsa, the program features a Tai Chi class on Mondays at 5:30pm, a boot camp class on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 5:30pm, a family yoga class on Wednesdays at 10am, and an outdoor walking fitness class on Fridays at 4pm.
The Guthrie Green will also be the host for the Tulsa Pulse Health and Fitness Festival that takes place on Saturday, May 11. The festival is billed as a free all-day event showcasing the best of Tulsa's health and fitness offerings.
With all that Tulsa has to offer in regards to physical fitness, there really is no reason for our city to be on anyone's list of fat cities. Some may say that it costs too much to get in shape, but if you consider the affordable options we have at our local parks and recreation centers, that's not a viable excuse anymore. So turn off the X-Box, take a break from that inane reality show you're addicted to, open your door, and head out to the park. You can't afford not to, Tubby.
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