One of the QR F.I.T. Trail signs is seen at the start of a trail near the intersection of Corby Parkway and Northeast Parkway.

Local runners and walkers are seeing new QR code signs along the city’s trail system.

With just one scan, a resident can access several bodyweight exercises.

More than a year ago, the St. Joseph East Rotary Club approached the parks department about funding a new project, and Parks Director Chuck Kempf had the perfect idea.

“I had been to a conference where I had seen that new technology, the QR codes, the fitness technology, and I had an interest in it, but of course didn’t have any money, so I tabled it,” Kempf said.

So the rotary club decided to take on the $6,000 project. It was at the perfect time, too — right as the trails were seeing more use during the pandemic.

“The use of the trails had gone up almost exponentially, with everyone being home because of COVID,” said Nick Gertsema, the president of the St. Joseph East Rotary Club. “As there were more people on the trails, we were looking for a way that we could do something to reach the people where they were.

“People could just come up, socially distance, scan, not have to touch anything, wipe sweat down, do their exercise while they were already walking,” Gertsema said. “Then, hopefully, be able to get some extra workouts in without having to go to a gym, because a lot of them were closed.”

There are now about a dozen of these QR F.I.T. Trail signs across town, including six near Corby Pond and another six near Bartlett Park.

It’s pretty simple to use. All you have to do is use your camera on your smartphone and point it at the QR code. A link will pop up that will then send you to a YouTube video with the exercises.

“I walk a lot, and I do very little other exercise or fitness type activity, so it’s a really easy way, without having any equipment or anything else, while you’re taking your walk to scan that code, get a little bit of assistance on your smart device and add and enhance your exercise routine,” Kempf said. “So it’s pretty clever.”

New videos are updated monthly so the exercises aren’t repetitive to regular trail users. The implementation of the system was paid for by the Rotary club, but the parks department will have to pay for the yearly subscription going forward.

“(The Rotary club) felt like they could get a little bit bigger bang for their buck,” Kempf said. “It wasn’t really expensive. This is something that they could do in multiple locations in St. Joseph and also provide some really quality fitness and recreation amenity to the trail system that already existed.”

Quinn Ritzdorf can be reached at quinn.ritzdorf@newspressnow.com

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