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Ken Malloy Park Offers Fitness Fun for All Ages

Sean Floyd couldn’t ask for a better outdoor workout setting to lose weight and get fit:

  • A refreshing, cool breeze from the lake;
  • A variety of equipment to meet all his strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training needs; and
  • The option to participate in various exercise classes such as Zumba, boot camp and yoga.

But this ideal place where Floyd completes his full-body exercise routine at least three times a week isn’t an expensive country club – it’s Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park. Now one of the largest public fitness parks in Southern California, the Harbor City facility enables children and adults to access a safe, clean location to exercise, relax, and improve their health.

“Every community should have a park like this,” said Floyd, 43, of Harbor City. “It’s a nice, family atmosphere with something for everybody – and it’s free.”

Once a haven for illegal activity and encampments, the 231-acre park and adjacent Lake Machado reopened in June following a three-year, $111 million restoration project. Today, the park features paved pathways, hiking and bike trails, nature deck, hundreds of additional trees, and new grass, pedestrian bridges, benches, and of course, the large fitness zone. Park rangers were added for security.

To help expand the park’s capabilities, Kaiser Permanente Southern California awarded the Los Angeles Parks Foundation a $95,000 community benefit grant to contribute toward the exercise equipment.

Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center across the street from the facility provides popular fitness classes at the park. Kaiser Permanente’s local community benefit program also granted the YMCA $10,000 to offer exercise classes at the park to encourage community organizations to utilize the space.

“Harbor City is a park-poor community, with few places for families to play, walk, and enjoy the outdoors together,” said Barbara Carnes, MD, pediatrician and area medical director at Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center. “With the reopening of Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, we saw a real opportunity to support the health of our neighbors by installing fitness equipment that would appeal to all ages, and provide free fitness classes that would engage community members at every fitness level.”

“We know providing great medical care is not enough to build a healthy community,” Carnes continued. “We have to stretch our resources and influence beyond the walls of the medical center to address the upstream determinants of health.”

Joe Stackhouse, senior recreation director II, City of Los Angeles, Recreation and Parks Department, emphasized that without involvement from organizations like Kaiser Permanente, the public fitness space would have taken many more years to complete.

“Kaiser Permanente is so enmeshed in the community – they saw a need and wanted to help,” said Stackhouse. “Their partnership made an idea a reality.”

“This is a great project to pull everyone together in the community,” agreed Steve MacAller, regional director, Torrance-South Bay YMCA.

The efforts have paid off. Since the park reopened, park attendance has increased more than 75 percent, according to city officials. Floyd is among the thousands who enjoy the renovated park every week. The longtime train conductor jumpstarted his own transformation last fall when his nephew challenged him to lose 20 pounds in a month. Floyd began making healthier food choices and working out regularly.

After dropping 45 pounds, the 5-foot-9-inch, 236-pound husband and father said, “I feel at least 10 years younger and have more energy. It’s not just about losing weight, but feeling strong and healthy, and trusting my body to level out where it’s supposed to be. This is a way of life for me now.”