The expansion of outdoor fitness courts across the state is helping make high-quality workouts accessible to all, regardless of age, fitness level, or economic status.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, along with the National Fitness Campaign, are working to deliver these outdoor wellness infrastructures to every county in the state—and they are well on their way. There are currently fitness courts in 16 Alabama counties, with several more in the planning or building process. The campaign’s ultimate goal is to build an outdoor fitness court within a 10-mile bike ride of every citizen. 

The courts themselves are built on a 40-by-40-foot pad with seven carefully-planned stations designed to maximize a full-body workout: core, squat, push, lunge, pull, agility, and bend. Each station is equipped with a QR code that will take you to your own personal trainer on their free fitness app, who explains how to complete or adapt each exercise.

The workouts are designed for everyone ages 14 and up and for all ability levels and allow community members to get in a workout in the great outdoors—a bonus health benefit. The National Institute of Health reported that natural outdoor environments provide some of the best all-around health benefits by increasing physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion; they also reduce stress, restore mental fatigue, and can improve one’s overall mood. 

The National Library of Medicine puts it even simpler: “Daily movement outside makes us healthier and happier.”

But perhaps the best part about the outdoor fitness courts is their equity—they are free of cost and available to all. 

“What I love most about the fitness court is that it is free to the whole community,” says Carrie Gieseke, a featured user for The National Fitness Campaign. “Everyone’s budget cannot manage a gym membership and being healthy by staying fit shouldn’t be a paid experience.” Others are using the courts to strengthen relationships within their community by providing guided classes and exercises at no cost. 

As the impact of the outdoor fitness courts spreads across Alabama, more and more communities are applying for grants to fund their construction. 2023 was an immensely successful year for the courts’ expansion, with over 126 million raised in public and private investment, according to the NFC’s 2023 Impact Report. 

There are currently seven courts under construction in the state, including courts in Homewood, Northport, and Enterprise, as well as two courts soon to open in Huntsville. Additionally, the Huntsville courts are a part of the National Fitness Campaign’s artist series, a public art campaign that seeks to integrate the outdoor workouts while promoting one-of-a-kind art by local artists.

“It’s fantastic to see artwork incorporated into our public projects across the city,’’ Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle said in a press release. “It’s even more meaningful to see artistry wrapped into wellness, and we thank our partners at Arts Huntsville for leading this effort.” 

With the continued expansion of the fitness courts, it’s becoming easier than ever to take part in no-cost physical activity while enjoying fresh air and sunlight outdoors. The National Fitness Campaign’s founder, Mitch Menaged, says it best: “Being fit isn’t just a long-term investment in health or support for sports training and competition—it’s the superpower that makes everything easier and everything possible.”

To find an outdoor fitness court near you, visit the NFC’s fitness court map here.