Government officials opened the Calisthenics Park last week on crown land at the Seven Mile Public Beach. The 5,575 sqft outdoor fitness facility, which is open to the public, was donated by local businessman Phillip Schlossstein and will be maintained and managed by the Cayman Islands Government. Calisthenics is a form of strength training through street workouts.
At the opening there were live demonstrations by three world-champion street athletes, Jay Chris, Sophie Brace and Tony Gastelum, who also facilitated a series of free training workshops for local sports and physical therapy experts during their stay.
Schlossstein, originally from Germany and the owner of the investment company Schlossstein Capital, said it was a “community square” for all to enjoy.
“We are enormously privileged to live in a country with peace, stability, the rule of law and freedom of expression, amongst many other things. I make no secret that I feel passionate about encouraging wealthy people and companies who call Cayman home to contribute to raising the quality of life for all people,” he said.
“To those who may be harbouring similar private initiatives for the public good, talk to the relevant departments of the Cayman Islands Government as they are open for business. The CIG has been timely, goal-oriented, cooperative and pragmatic. I am grateful for their support and look forward to future projects towards making this community an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” he added.
Health and Wellness Minister Sabrina Turner said, “COVID-19 has changed the way we think about health overall. When we were constricted to our homes, persons found simple ways to move their bodies – mostly through calisthenics. By adding this park to one of our most-visited public spaces, we are continuing this enhanced culture of health and wellness here in the Cayman Islands.”
With the park site located on crown land, oversight for the project was assigned to the Ministry of District Administration and Lands, with consultation provided by the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure (PAHI).
The minister for lands, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, said Schlossstein never asked for waivers and special dispensations and he produced what he has promised in a transparent, people-driven and timely manner.
“We are very grateful and appreciative of Phillip’s contribution. The successful delivery of the Calisthenics Park, by way of good public-private partnership, epitomizes our mantra of ‘Community makes Country’,” O’Connor-Connolly said, as she challenged other members of the community with similar resources to follow suit by investing in the community and nation-building.
Schlossstein has also committed to the construction of a second facility of its kind in Cayman Brac. Construction of the second facility will commence after a period of observation of the Grand Cayman facility.
As part of the opening of the facility, the two top male and female athletes from eleven government schools participated in a series of challenges at the park, including pushups, hang tests, rows and the use of blaze pods. Trainers from the Rec Room Gym led the challenges with the visiting street workout athletes.
Brian Walpole, the challenge coordinator and manager of the Rec Room Gym, said the level of ability of all the students who took part was impressive, as was their athleticism, keenness to learn, and willingness to take part.
“There are some promising athletes in the group,” he said. “I think calisthenics will add a lot to the community as kids will have this free-to-use space so that they can use and take part whenever they want.”
Students also enjoyed the challenges that tested their strength and reaction speed. Micah Leon, a Clifton Hunter High School student and gymnast, said she was excited to be a part of the challenges and to win the pushup competition.
“It feels like the hard work and upper body strength that I have been doing at gymnastics is paying off,” she said.