Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, City of Willmar and National Fitness Campaign Make Fitness Free for Everyone in Willmar

State-of-the-Art Outdoor Fitness Court® Studio featuring local artist coming to Sperry Park

WILLMAR, Minn., July 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), City of Willmar, and National Fitness Campaign (NFC) today announced an agreement to bring an outdoor Fitness Court® Studio to Sperry Park. The Fitness Court Studio, located at Homewood Avenue NE, will open on Wednesday, July 19 at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The City of Willmar’s Fitness Court Studio will be the first-of-its-kind to open in the state of Minnesota.

One of 37 active parks in Willmar, Sperry Park is highly visible and accessible to residents and visitors. Located off one of the most traveled roads in Willmar, this location was selected for its proximity to nearby Robbins Island and its recreational amenities for families and adults of all ages. The Fitness Court Studio will be within walking or cycling distance of approximately 9,500 Willmar residents.

This Fitness Court Studio was developed by Blue Cross, City of Willmar and NFC to expand free access to high quality workouts and create equitable access to exercise for communities around the state.

Blue Cross’ sponsorship will accommodate up to ten Fitness Court sites throughout Minnesota over the next two years. The health plan is placing racial and health equity at the center of its support through accessible fitness opportunities that will benefit a wide range of communities both geographically and culturally. Additionally, Blue Cross is emphasizing community art beautification with Fitness Court space designs commissioned by local artists. In the City of Willmar, Sonja Madsen, a sculpture artist by nature who was born and raised in Willmar, was selected to have her work featured as a permanent aspect of the Fitness Court Studio.

The Fitness Court Studio is twice the size of a standard Fitness Court, providing over 2,000 square feet of healthy infrastructure. With the Fitness Court Studio, classes such as yoga, pilates, zumba or stretching can take place while the Fitness Court is utilized for simultaneous group and individual workouts. The Fitness Court is the world’s best outdoor gym that lets people use their own body weight to get a complete workout using seven exercise stations. Created with people aged 14 and over and with all abilities in mind, the workouts are adaptable for all fitness levels, allowing participants to move at their own pace. Users also may download the free Fitness Court App which acts as a coach-in-your-pocket and enhances the outdoor gym into a digitally supported wellness experience.

“This Fitness Court Studio represents our organization’s commitment to create healthier communities across the state,” said Bukata Hayes, vice president of racial and health equity and chief equity officer at Blue Cross. “Over the past decade, Blue Cross has established a truly special relationship with the Willmar community through ongoing public health initiatives. We are excited to build upon these efforts with a barrier-free, equitable opportunity for exercise that can help to drive even more positive health outcomes in the area.”

“When Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota approached Mayor Marv Calvin last year on the Fitness Court concept, staff agreed that this was a great opportunity to bring a new ‘adult’ playground to the city of Willmar,” said City Administrator Leslie Valiant. “It was an opportunity to collaborate with a private entity to stretch city park improvement dollars further and bring a new feature that previously was not available to our residents. Thank you to Blue Cross, National Fitness Campaign, and Sonja Madsen for the beautiful public artwork and to city staff for all the work that went into bringing this new fitness feature to the city of Willmar.”

“I’m overjoyed at the opportunity to bring a lasting work of art to my hometown,” said selected artist Sonja Madsen. “Out and About highlights the diversity of our community and the universal connection to nature and fitness.”

“National Fitness Campaign is proud to welcome the City of Willmar to the campaign as a leading partner in Minnesota, championing mental and physical health for their residents,” said Mitch Menaged, founder of National Fitness Campaign. “We are proud to continue our mission of getting people moving outdoors, building a nationwide gallery of public art and helping communities combat the fiscal and humanitarian costs of inactivity.”

Residents are invited to attend the launch event on July 19 at 10 a.m. to try the Fitness Court Studio. For more information, visit the or contact Parks and Recreation at (320) 235-1454.

For more information on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s support of NFC, please visit

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
For 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota ( has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. Our 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About City of Willmar
Situated in the middle of Kandiyohi County, Willmar Township was first established in 1870. A city rich in heritage and diverse cultures, Willmar is a dynamic destination to residents and visitors alike. In 2005, Willmar earned the award for All American City, highlighted in a segment of “Whose America” for NBC Nightly News and most recently featured on MSNBC’s Your Business lists for its diversity of entrepreneurs. Willmar is home to Destination Playground; one of the nation’s largest, fully accessible playgrounds. Located at Robbins Island, one of Willmar’s 30+ parks, Destination Playground was built by community volunteers. Whether you’re just starting out, building a business, raising a family, or spending your golden years, the Willmar area has something for any phase of life. For more information, visit

About NFC
Founded in San Francisco in 1979, National Fitness Campaign (NFC) is a wellness consulting firm that provides programs and services to cities, schools and sponsors with the mission to build healthy communities. NFC delivers an integrated wellness initiative, centered on the world’s best outdoor gym: The Fitness Court®. The Campaign is planning its 500th Healthy Community, uniting the country’s largest public-private partnership in support of wellness with the goal of building a Fitness Court within a 10-minute bike ride of every American. Follow us on social media @NatFitCampaign and #Fitnesscourt.

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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, City of Willmar and National Fitness Campaign Make Fitness Free for Everyone in Willmar WeeklyReviewer

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