Sarah Miller held her phone up to a new sign at Brazos Park East.

The app she’d downloaded upon arriving took a picture of a QR code on the sign before bringing up a video where an instructor led her through a round of stretches.

Miller had to work through a few hiccups first as a first-time QR code user. She downloaded different apps to scan the code until she found one to work.

“He jumped in the water,” the Baylor University lecturer laughed, as she pointed to the instructor in the video, while she stood near the entrance of the Waco park near the parking lot.

Live Well Waco and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District launched the QR Fit Trail System throughout 11 Waco parks.

Five 18-by-24-inch white signs are at each park labeled Station 1 through Station 5. Park visitors can download any of the free apps on their smartphone that provides a QR Code reader service. The user then points their phone at the black and white two-dimensional bar code, which then brings up a series of videos hosted by the Virginia-based company QR F.I.T. Trail. Depending on the station, the videos offer workout options to exercise a person’s core, upper body, lower body and flexibility at beginner, intermediate or advanced levels.

The program offers a new way to work out, said Sujana Shah, public health education specialist. The signs are at Alta Vista Park, Bell’s Hill Park, Bledsoe-Miller Park, Brazos Park East, Brooklyn Park, Council Acres Park, East Waco Park, Gurley Park, Kendrick Park, Oakwood Park, and Oscar DuConge Park.

Healthy communities grant

A Texas Healthy Communities grant at just under $50,000 covered the costs associated with the project, said John Williams, city of Waco parks and recreation director. The grant requires that they report back how many people throughout the city are using the system.

Shah said the program was installed a few months ago, so usage numbers are not yet high. Results will take time, she said.

Bledsoe-Miller Park, which had the highest number of visits, saw 77 hits in June, 104 in July, 55 in August and 26 in September. The 11 parks have had more than 1,000 total visits total in the last three months, Shah said.

Williams said the program allows people the opportunity to understand more about what it means to be physically fit and healthy by working out with appropriate types of exercises. The grant covered costs for markings along the paved trail loops in nine of the 11 parks that detail healthy, “fun facts,” he said.

Williams said there are a number of ways to follow along with the video instructors working, including having the phone fixed around the user’s waist or arm, or there are a number of stands someone could purchase to watch along.

One sign at Kendrick Park states if a person were to walk one mile, they would burn off 14 regular potato chips, but if they walked 4.5 miles, they could burn off one slice of pepperoni pizza, which is 450 calories.

Positive feedback

Shah said depending on the exercise, most people could watch the video first and then copy the exercise. She said they have received a lot of positive feedback regarding the signs.

“They are excited about it. They think it’s a really cool idea,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to see people using it with their families.”

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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