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Free local fitness opportunities

July 12, 2011
By JOHANNA BOYLE ( , Journal Ishpeming Bureau

MARQUETTE - Maybe you want to start your own exercise program. Maybe you want to build some muscle. Maybe you just want to spend more time outside during the U.P. summer.

Not all exercise plans mean you have to spend hours inside at the gym, particularly if your family's budget doesn't leave much space for a monthly membership. A combination of outdoor workouts and at home fitness routines can provide a variety of ways to get active.

Marquette County has lots of spaces dedicated to fitness that are open to the public and free of charge.

Article Photos

Community members enjoy a walk around the Bell Hospital fitness trail, which held its grand opening Thursday. (Journal file photo)

Runners, walkers, inline skaters and cyclists can find miles of paved trails either on the Marquette bike path system, which runs 16 miles throughout the city and along the lakeshore, or on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, which is currently paved through Ishpeming to Negaunee.

The paved trails provide a convenient place for people to be active, where pavement allows a variety of activities, and a place to ride, run or walk out of the flow of traffic.

The county's trails don't end with the paved variety, however. There are also countless unpaved trails, which can be used for biking, hiking or trail running in the summer or skiing or snowshoeing in the winter months. For more information on hiking and biking trails, visit

If you want to add some strength training to your walk or run, there are several places around the county that provide strength training stations, complete with informational panels telling you how to perform exercises like crunches, squats or chin ups.

The city of Ishpeming contains two fitness trails, one circling the Bell Hospital property and the other at the Al Quaal Recreation Area.

Bell Hospital's fitness trail is a 1.1 mile loop. The trail is lined with wood chips and includes a warm-up station, an upper body station, a lower body station, a hill running endurance challenge, a functional training station, an anaerobic challenge station and a total body conditioning station. Each station includes an informational sign showing how to complete the exercises, as well as multiple exercise options for each station.

The Al Quaal Recreation Area, located north of U.S. 41 in Ishpeming, also provides a fitness loop, with stations placed in the park's field. Each station has an arrow indicating the direction of the next station. Each station focuses on three separate but similar exercises, such as different types of crunches or push ups.

Used for cross country skiing in the winter months, the Fit Strip in Marquette is located behind the city's Park Cemetery. The Fit Strip includes two loops - an intermediate 1.5-kilometer loop and a beginner 1-kilometer loop - both with a variety of exercise stations. Parking is available at the trailhead, which can be found by turning north onto Seymour Street from Bluff Street.

Of course, if the weather makes the thought of heading outside enough to stay curled up on the couch, why not stay home? Exercise equipment like resistance bands, weights, a jump rope and workout videos can allow you to get a full workout in without having to travel anywhere. Even if you don't have any equipment, or don't want to invest in new items, body weight exercises, like pushups and lunges, don't require outside tools.

The exercise portion of each Healthy Weight Journal Community Wellness Challenge meeting focuses on exercises that can be done anywhere, led by YMCA certified trainers. Teams meet in Ishpeming, Gwinn, Marquette and Negaunee, with different meeting times throughout the week. Sign up for the wellness challenge at

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.



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