Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vita Parcours - a healthy Swiss invention nobody has ever heard about abroad

“Our paths are to be found in the most beautiful gym of the world: nature. "
Josef Bächler, Percorsi Vita
Living in Ticino is all about living outdoors. You make the best of the spectacular nature around you: hiking, mountain biking, skiing.  It’s a sporty lifestyle to be enjoyed with your family. Furthermore, these are all activities that parents will continue to enjoy with their kids even when they have grown up.

An activity less well known abroad but typically Swiss is the “Vita Parcours”.

Vita Parcours are paths devoted to sport, equipped with obstacles or stations distributed along its length for exercising the human body to promote good health. They are mostly 2 to 4 km long with 15 exercises along the path.
Equipment exists to provide specific forms of physiological exercise, and can consist of natural features including climbable rocks, trees, and river embankments, or manufactured products (stepping posts, chin-up and climbing bars) designed to provide similar physical challenges. The degree of difficulty of a course is determined by terrain slope, trail surface (dirt, grass, gravel, etc), obstacle height (walls) or length (crawls) and other features.

The original Vita parcour was invented in 1968 by Swiss architect Erwin Weckemann with support from Swiss life insurance firm "Vita" (nothing like a good Swiss insurance to take care of you). They are now maintained by the Zurich insurance. The first course was built in Zurich, Switzerland. The about 500 Vita parcours are free for the public and often located in forests close to the cities.
Washrooms/changing rooms are usually located at the beginning of the track.
I have added the official Swiss Vita Parcours link as well as the Lugano and the Ticino Percorso Vita links for you to take a peek at.
I highly recommend taking off on a sunny, autumn afternoon to discover the parcours closest to you, walking or running. Your kids might even know it already, given that some schools take advantage of these paths during gym lessons. Nothing beats the healthy, natural Swiss lifestyle.

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