FitLot is a New Orleans-based nonprofit that repurposes vacant lots into outdoor fitness parks. Vacant lots around the city are not only an eyesore, but also a factor that diminishes property values. FitLot’s aim is to transform these underutilized lots and provide everyone in the city with easy access to free exercise spaces.
Thanks to sponsorship from Whole Foods, FitLot’s Flagship park at The Sojourner Truth Community Center along side the Lafitte Greenway is partially funded. With further support from local sponsors, FitLot plans to build the park this fall with three more parks following soon after. In the future, FitLot hopes to build an entire network of parks around the city that are connected via bike paths. Accessibility is the goal, and the organization hopes to provide a FitLot within walking distance of most city neighborhoods. From the start, FitLot was conceived as a long-term project. “We hope to be able to support the parks over the next several years,” says Adam Mejerson.
Furthermore, FitLot aims to involve the neighborhood around each park so that locals can give input into the building process. After 90 days of planning and preparatory work on each park, FitLot will host a community build day to let area volunteers finish building and landscaping their park in one afternoon. This involvement allows community members to develop a sense of ownership with their neighborhood park.
This spring is an exciting time for FitLot. A lot of hard work and planning are culminating in the launch of new initiatives, such as the Neighborhood Coaches program. Community members can take free eight-week classes with a coach to learn how to use the fitness park and develop positive, safe workout habits. The coaches get certified through a program at Ochsner, and then train after-school groups at fitness parks around the city.
At this time, FitLot needs more local businesses to support the idea of outdoor business parks and to help make these spaces more accessible. FitLot is still raising sponsorship and support for each project. Furthermore, anyone interested in becoming a Neighborhood Coach (in particular returning veterans) are encouraged to contact FitLot for more information:
FitLot Office, Propeller, 4035 Washington Ave., 264-1568, Facebook.com/Fitlot, firstname.lastname@example.org