AP NEWS

New Fitness Court unveiled in Converse City Park

April 9, 2019

With its mayor banging out 42 push-ups in 45 seconds, Converse residents turned out for the unveiling of the Converse Fitness Court, a circuit training system that is located in the Converse City Park area.

The National Fitness Campaign selected Converse as one of seven recipients for the $80,000 court, a bodyweight circuit training system designed for adults of all ages and abilities. Each fitness court is integrated with shock-resistant sports flooring and is comprised of exercise stations that allow for up to 28 individuals to use the court at the same time. The court accommodates a variety of skill levels and abilities at each station, from beginner to expert.

Converse Mayor Al Suarez stepped up and challenged the city’s police and fire chiefs to a show of fitness, performing push-ups along the seven-stationed court.

“This is part of the vision of the city, encouraging a healthy life here in Converse, to get out and exercise for all the residents,” Suarez said at Friday’s grand opening. “This is a viable option for all the families, alternative family entertainment to come out and work out. It’s a high quality court that all citizens of Converse will be able to use free of charge.”

The fitness court is located at the beginning of the Greenway Trail, a path that will connect to North Park and create a linear park. Also near the fitness court is the city’s soon-to-be-opened Converse Lake, which is being restored to its natural state and made accessible to residents on Memorial Day.

“We want to keep the lake natural, a different lake than North Park. Bring your fishing poles, it will be open for business this Memorial Day weekend,” the mayor said.

Stella Calvillo, Converse administrative assistant and chief grant writer, said the city received emails from the National Fitness Campaign about its fitness courts back in 2017.

“Lanny (then-City Manager Lanny Lambert) received an email and forwarded it to me. I looked into it and thought it would be a good idea for the park,” Calvillo said. She approached the city’s Parks and Environment Commission and asked if they were interested in me applying for the grant. City Council approved of the effort and budgeted $65,000, its share of the $80,000 and Calvillo submitted the grant work.

“We received word about three weeks later. They contacted me and said we were selected as one of the few cities in Texas,” Calvillo said. “They were looking for 100 total in the nation at that time, and we were chosen.”

Assemblage and erection of the park was done entirely by the Converse public works department. Mark Velasquez, Converse public works director, said the city began construction on the court in early in March. The city was emailed some specifications and blueprints, and received technical guidance via conference calls along the way.

“Decisions had to be made here at the ground level based on soil densities and things like that,” Velasquez said. “But the turnout today, it’s very satisfying, especially since the public works’ guys did all of this, it was all done in-house.”

The location was actually selected by Manny Longoria, assistant city manager. It will be used as a way to tie in City Park with the lake, and as a stopping point along the hike-and-bike trail that’s going to connect the city’s two major parks.

The fitness court is open free of charge and is accessible off the park’s Mesquite Street entrance, less a quarter-mile down Willow Drive from City Park’s primary School Street entrance.

jflinn@express-news.net