SLO city brings Fitness Court gym to Emerson Park

SLO city brings Fitness Court gym to Emerson Park

Starting on the ground, then moving to concrete blocks, then metal bars, I shift from station to station, jumping, contorting, and exerting myself at San Luis Obispo’s new outdoor gym in Emerson Park.

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  • Courtesy Photo By Miranda Beal
  • THE CIRCUIT San Luis Obispo recently unveiled a new Fitness Court at Emerson Park, which has seven stations and more than 25 unique, seven-minute workouts of varying difficulties on a free phone app.

Throughout the seven-minute circuit workout, an instructor’s voice blares through my phone speaker, reminding me of what to do next and when each station’s 45 seconds of work is up.

The entire circuit feels like it’s over in a flash, but by the end of it, I’m sweating, breathing heavily, and feeling it in my arms, legs, and core. I’m also ready for more—so I start scrolling through the Fitness Court app to pick another seven-minute workout from the 26 options.

This outdoor gym model is brand new to the Central Coast, according to SLO Parks and Recreation Director Greg Avakian. Fitness Court, a company based in San Francisco, is in more than 150 cities across the country, but before opening in SLO last month, the closest location was Santa Cruz.

“They’re starting to pop up,” Avakian told New Times. “The opportunity is it’s free. It’s open from sunrise to sunset. And with the app and website, it’s self-guided or you can do it in a group. Right now, people are excited because it looks amazing. It’s clean; it’s new; it’s more modern.”

The facility certainly shines at Emerson Park, an aging downtown park that needs an injection of new amenities. Luckily for locals, that makeover is coming soon: the city recently received a $2.8 million state grant to build a new dog park, basketball courts, bocce ball courts, and a larger playground at the park.

“The stars are aligning for Emerson Park right now,” Avakian said. “We’re excited for the next 18 months of what’s going to happen over there.”

The Fitness Court is the first ball to drop there, so to speak—although its planning came well before the grant did. Avakian explained that the city had long hoped to replace Emerson’s old outdoor gym, which was a couple of decades old and obsolete, and found Fitness Court during its research. One big perk that came along with it: a $25,000 grant from the company to help build it, as part of its National Fitness Campaign.

“The timing worked out great,” Avakian said. “It gave us the opportunity to join this program, which means that the Fitness Court we have at Emerson, if you went to Oakland or San Francisco, you’ll see the same style.”

As far as user experience, Fitness Court is pretty smooth. The app takes a little getting used to, as does the equipment, making for a clunky first run, but by the second circuit I found my groove. Mastering these little exercises—from lunges, to box jumps, to push-ups, pull-ups, high knees, and sit-ups—won’t take long. And for the price of nothing, it’s a sweet deal.

“It’s crazy timing with the pandemic and people wanting to get outside to do workouts—this is that opportunity,” Avakian said. “We have a great climate and a very active community.”

The Cohousing Company, an “internationally renowned and proven homeless community developer,” is coming to SLO on March 19 for a free presentation about its creative solutions to homelessness. Charles Durrett, the founder, is behind more than 50 affordable and supportive housing communities throughout the country, according to Hope’s Village SLO. Durrett will speak at 7 p.m. at Mountainbrook Church, at 1775 Calle Joaquin in SLO. “Please join us for this free presentation and see how we can create a model community for SLO County and be known as leaders in caring forour unhoused neighbors,” a Hope’s Village press release read. For more information, visit

Undoc Summit: United We Rise, Together We Dream! is scheduled for April 2 at Laguna Middle School. It will bring together “college Dream Centers, K-12 educators, organizations, and community members” to “celebrate the strength and unity of our beautiful community,” according to Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success. The all-day event will feature “presentations, resources, and workshops to address the needs of the Central Coast’s mixed status and undocumented communities.” Visit for more information. ?

Reach Assistant Editor Peter Johnson at

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