Welcome to "The Woods": New 20-acre fitness park in Benton Harbor

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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- While gyms remain closed in Michigan, a new, outdoor fitness park in Berrien County will allow you to be active while staying safe during the pandemic.

The Woods is a 20-acre gym in Benton Harbor and has only been in business for a month – but given the urge people now have to get outside and social distance, the opening came at a perfect time.

After completing his first Spartan Race last year, owner Mike Petlick decided to use the extra property at his landscaping business to create his own obstacles to train on.

“And then one after another until we have almost 50 now,” said Petlick.

50 obstacles that he’s turned into a fitness park for all, from climbing and rope walls, to monkey bars and ring swings — plus three miles of trails.

“I have people who come here everyday just to walk because it’s in the shade, it’s not on the pavement, there’s no traffic. It’s just nice and calm and they can do whatever they want back here,” said Petlick.

Thanks to his landscaping background, Petlick was able to create all of the trails and keep them dry, but will be adding water obstacles next week for those looking to take their workout to another level.

With the park being open from sunup to sundown everyday, people can come at any time and always keep their distance.

“I can have 50 people out here and you don’t have to see anybody and then I have sanitation so when you get to a rope or a ball you can wipe them down,” said Petlick.

And while the idea of a 20-acre obstacle course may seem daunting, Petlick says you’ll be surprised at all you can do.

“You’re completely out of your element the first time but it’s a blast.”

The Woods is also starting fitness classes next week, aimed at teaching people how to use the obstacle courses.

There are two monthly memberships currently available: $40 a month for walking and $75 for obstacles. There are also day passes at $20 for adults, $15 for Berrien County residents and $10 for children ages 5-15.

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