Bear Head Lake State Park in Minnesota (Image courtesy of Coca Cola)
Written by Alexa Cortese, Web Intern
When the weather cooperates, there’s nothing like going to the park for an outdoor workout . Last week, The National Park Foundation and Coca-Cola launched “America Is Your Park” to make getting fit outdoors even easier. The campaign, which is taking place for the second year in a row, will award a $100,000 recreation grant to a local park that receives the most votes at LivePositively.com
We spoke with fitness guru Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld about his involvement in the campaign and L. Celeste Bottorff, Vice President, Living Well, Coca-Cola North America, to find out how you can get involved in this fun project.
How did you first get involved in the "America is Your Park" campaign?
Jake Steinfeld: I have been in the fitness business for 30 years and I’ve been urging folks to get outside and be active and have fun! So when I learned about “America Is Your Park,” I knew I wanted to be involved. “America Is Your Park” is giving people the opportunity to give their favorite park a facelift and continue to be a “go to” place for families to get outdoors and play. I’m thrilled to be part of such a great initiative.
How do you think parks can help Americans to have a better quality of life?
JS: Parks offer us endless opportunities to be active, whether it’s throwing a Frisbee with your kids, biking, kayaking, jogging, or just playing a game of touch football with your buddies. The recreation grant that Coke is giving will help restore and rebuild parks by funding new equipment, building new activity areas and more. This program helps ensure that parks continue to be a place everyone will want to play and be active.
What kinds of activities do you hope to see people integrating into their lives as a result of the campaign?
JS: I’m hoping the awareness raised through America Is Your Park will remind people that parks are not only a place to be active, but a great source of fun. People can make simple steps to enjoy the outdoors, like park their car farther and walk more, take their kids in the backyard instead of watching TV, go for family bike rides. Or if people are looking for more adventure, there are great parks in almost every town or city that can provide opportunities for kayaking, rock-climbing or trail running. You just need to get out there and find out what works best for you and your family.
What are some of your favorite outdoor activities, and what advice do you have for people who want to become more active?
JS: I really like playing basketball, and love getting outdoors with my family. Most mornings I go kayaking with my kids, and we go on bike rides all the time. And soon we are heading to Nantucket for a family vacation and I know we will be outdoors a lot!
My advice to people who want to become more active outdoors is to find activities you truly enjoy and are passionate about – and do them with friends and family who’ll keep you motivated. If you love running, join a running club or start running with a buddy; if you and your family love the water, try a weekly kayaking outing at the park. The more enjoyable it is, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Last year’s winner of America Is Your Park was Bear Head Lake State Park in Minnesota. What has that park done with the money, and how has it improved since winning?
Celeste Bottorff: The grant is being used on long overdue improvement projects including building a warming hut to ensure safety and comfort for winter sports enthusiasts all season long.
What kinds of activities do you believe parks should provide to give people opportunities to lead healthy lifestyles while having fun at the same time?
CB: What we at Coca-Cola love so much about our nation’s parks is that the activity opportunities are endless. People of all ages, families, couples and individuals can all use parks to create their own active fun. It’s organizations like The National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks, and National Recreation and Park Association that ensure we have what we need to do these activities – jungle gyms, sand boxes, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, walking trails, etc. Our aim with America Is Your Park is to help restore and rebuild these outdoor spaces for everyone to enjoy during a time where funding is declining.
Tell us: Do you have a favorite park? (Make sure to vote for it at LivePositively.com! Voting ends September 6, 2011.) How do you get fit outdoors?