KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — South Knoxville's Ijams Nature Center is known for its hiking trails, paddle boarding and mountain biking, but now the nature reserve is adding strength-training to its list of outdoor activities.
"There's all this research out there about what we call 'green exercise.' Exercising in nature helps you train at a higher intensity level. You get more out of it, and you become better stewards of nature," Executive Director Amber Parker said.
The new 'Primal Playground' is set to open on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, on the Pink Marble Trail at Mead's Quarry. The natural outdoor exercise area is divided up into three distinct sections, the stone area, boulder field, and wood area that would appeal to fans of the Sparton Obstacle Course races and Parkour.
Personal Trainer Mark Rice said he designed the Primal Playground for every fitness level and combined various exercise styles.
"I wanted it to have every aspect of fitness from natural body movement to balance stability and strength elements," Rice said.
"I want to see people from age 14 to 94 out here working out and connecting with nature," Parker said.
Since the outdoor fitness space is one of a kind, there's bound to be a learning curve. Rice said they're working to make Youtube videos demonstrating how to use the equipment, and Parker has already created a few exercise plans that she's posted on the center's Facebook page.
The Primal Playground took roughly a year to go from concept to reality, and Parker credits volunteers and partnerships with Legacy Parks, Earthadelic, Parks & Recreation departments and more to make it possible.