Peninsula’s Vita Course

Let’s face it:  working out in a gym can get pretty dull sometimes. The incandescent lighting, the sterile machinery, the four walls, the TVs that are on but don’t actually produce any sound. All of it combined can make working out feel like, well, a lot of work, rather than something enjoyable.

Illustration by Ryan Miller.

Illustration by Ryan Miller.

Now imagine all that exercise equipment moved to the open woods, made into a trail designed not only to keep you fit, but to stimulate your senses. That’s exactly what the Vita Course located in Peninsula State Park is:  a one-mile, 13-station challenge for those looking to add a little outdoors to their exercise.

The Vita Course starts at the southwest corner of the amphitheater parking lot with stations designed to stretch an athlete out before moving them along a gravel trail to the first of the actual workout stations.

Those stations include a horizontal ladder for developing strength, sideways jump for agility and coordination, a parallel bar handwalk, push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, a squat jump, vertical jump, and a 16-foot balance beam, before winding up with some cool-down exercises.

The stations are located about 500 feet apart, and it’s said that a good athlete should be able to easily complete the entire course within 15 minutes.

The Vita Course was installed in 1980, when they were all the rage, according to former Peninsula State Park Superintendent Tom Blackwood. Current Superintendent Kelli Bruns said the outdoor exercise trail has recently started to come back into style.

“I have noticed that over time…you’re starting to see these come back into existence, a lot more modern as far as the type of workout station. You’ll see them along lakeshore areas or inland lakes where there might be inter-urban recreation trails,” said Bruns. “I think people are looking for ways to do more silent sports activities.”

Bruns and her children have hit the course themselves, and she said it was a great family experience.

“The kids had fun because the signs are simple and I think they like the simple ways that people are shown on there, and they can read the small sentences. They can follow along and do it,” said Bruns.

Bruns said she’ll be looking at updating the Vita Course when Peninsula State Park goes into its master planning process next year, possibly trying to secure some modern equipment to replace the aging timbers at the current exercise stations. But she’s also happy with the course as it stands now.

“We know this is unique and we know that people still use it. We see people coming off of it during the day,” said Bruns. “It’s a peace of mind type recreational activity where you have not only the exercise but you’re also able to maybe exercise your mind, too, being in that outdoor setting.”

2013 Runs, Rides & Paddles

May 4 – Door County Half

Marathon and Nicolet Bay 5k,

Peninsula State Park

13.1 mile run, 5k

May 11 – Blossom Run, Egg Harbor

5 mile run, 2 mile walk/run and 1 mile youth run

May 26 – Maifest Run, Jacksonport

10k run and 2 mile fun run

June 1 – Hog Wild Run,

Sturgeon Bay

5k, 10k, and kids run

June 14–16 – Washington Island Canoe and Kayak Event

June 15 – Ride for Nature, Baileys Harbor

100, 62, 50, 25 and 15 mile family ride

June 22 – Running Green for

the Crossroads, Sturgeon Bay

10k, 5k, and 2k walk/run

July 4 – Hairpin Run, Fish Creek

5k run/walk

July 20, 21 – Door County Triathlon, Egg Harbor

Sprint Distance, July 20

Half-Iron Distance, July 21

July 27 – Washington Island Rec Run

10k, 5k, and 2k walk/ run

Aug. 31 – YMCA Labor Day Weekend Run, Fish Creek

5k run/walk, children’s run, and a duathlon with a 2 mile run/12 mile bike/2 mile run

Sept. 8 – Door County Century Ride, Sturgeon Bay

100, 70, 50 and 28 mile rides

Sept. 14 – Peninsula Century, Sister Bay

100, 62, 50, and 25 mile rides

Sept. 20-22 – MS Challenge Walk

50 and 30 mile options

Oct. 5 – Potawatomi State Park Run Wild, Sturgeon Bay10k, 3 mile run/walk, and 1/3 mile Smokey Bear Run

Oct. 26 – Fall 50

50 mile run and relay run

If you have a run, ride or paddle to add to the list, please email [email protected]