AARP brings free fitness to East Helena

EAST HELENA — East Helena’s JFK Park has a swimming pool, a playground walking trails, and something else unique to the park—a FitLot complete with a cushioned floor and exercise equipment.

The FitLot in East Helena is the only one of its kind in Montana.

“This is something you see in California or Florida, and we get to have it right here in our backyards,” fitness instructor Brianne Martini said.

The $80,000 FitLot was funded by a grant from AARP.

“AARP decided for our 60th anniversary back in 2020 that we wanted to put one of these fitness parks in each state,” AARP Montana outreach director Nancy Andersen said.

The city of East Helena sent in an application for AARP grant, and was chosen to be Montana’s location for a FitLot.

“We had to have the place, the community to support it,” city of East Helena clerk-treasurer Amy Thorngren said. “Our park is right by a pool and a playground—it fit the bill.”

Andersen said JFK Park’s ample parking, accessibility and walking trail also made it an attractive location for the FitLot.

In addition to funding the construction of the FitLot, the AARP grant also funds classes through the summer, led by Martini.

Classes start June 26 and will be held each Monday and Wednesday from 9-10am. There will also be an introductory class held every third Friday. Classes are free and open to anyone interested in being active—no fitness experience required.

“I work at the YMCA and I’m used to modifying any workout,” Martini said. “Whatever anyone’s fitness level is, we will find a workout for them.”

Martini said the classes will be circuit-style with different workout stations.

“I love fitness, and I love finding ways to help other people to love fitness,” she said.

While classes are free, registration is suggested. The class schedule and registration is available online on the AARP Montana website.

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