Zurich vitaparcours: Fresh air, exercise and enjoyment of nature

Zurich vitaparcours: Fresh air, exercise and enjoyment of nature

The forest floor is soft and springy under your feet, there's an aroma of moss and the sound of a babbling brook as you gaze at the green surroundings. The Zurich vitaparcours combines enjoyment of nature with fitness.

The Zurich vitaparcours is also known as "Switzerland's largest fitness park". It came into existence in 1968. That was when the men's gymnastics club from Zurich Wollishofen began to work out in the forest. Using wood of all kinds, its members constructed various workout stations, which soon caught the attention of other athletes. The idea was supported and sponsored by what was then Vita Insurance, now known as Zurich Switzerland. This is how the first Zurich vitaparcours came into being. Now there are around 500 of them.

About 1.3 million users

Switzerland is a country of athletes, as revealed by the 2020 "Sport Schweiz" study published by the Federal Office of Sport (BASPO). Three quarters of the population above the age of 15 engage in sports at least once a week; only 16 percent say that they "never" do any sport. This means that Switzerland, together with the Scandinavian countries, has one of Europe's most athletic populations. The Zurich vitaparcours is a popular way of taking part in sports. One in every five respondents can be found there – which corresponds to some 1.3 million people.

500 facilities, open 24/7

So is the Zurich vitaparcours very crowded? Don't worry, that's not the case, since the many fans have a free choice between around 500 facilities throughout the whole of Switzerland. These are open 365 days a year, 24 hours each day. With an average length of 2.3 km, they never get crowded and it's very rare for someone to have to wait in front of one of the 15 permanently installed fitness posts. Many of the facilities are in the lowlands, others in the mountains. There are easy parcours and also more challenging ones. What they all have in common is that they are located in forests and maintained by local groups.

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Somewhere for everyone

The great strength of the Zurich vitaparcours is its diversity. This is where yoga fans get together for their outdoor workout, where families pushing prams enjoy their Sunday stroll and jogging groups meet up for their morning run. Later, a group of senior citizens sets out on their weekly Nordic walk and a bodybuilder starts to work out. Incidentally, with an average height difference of 60 meters, even the less well-trained can easily manage the Zurich vitaparcours.

It trains the whole body

The 15 workout stations offer up to 43 exercises for strength, stamina and agility/skill, so everyone can put together an individual program, all depending on their personal needs. All exercises are designed in line with the latest developments in sports science, and the goal is to train the whole body with its various muscle groups.

A real boon for body and soul

An essential element of the Zurich vitaparcours experience is the fact that it combines exercise, fresh air and enjoyment of nature. It benefits both body and soul. In this way athletes can achieve mental and emotional well-being, reduce stress and strengthen their immune system. If they are lucky, they can see rare plants by the wayside, hear the tapping of woodpeckers, croaking of frogs, or might even catch sight of a deer. Even at the height of summer, the workout stations are pleasant and shady. And what happens when you finish the parcours? Then you simply feel good.

The five best tips after the winter break

  • Warm up thoroughly. This will not only improve performance, but make you less susceptible to injury.  
  • Gradually increase the frequency, duration and intensity of your workout and give yourself time to relax afterwards.
  • Train your whole body and, for complete fitness, give consideration to all muscle groups. This will support your feeling of well-being and your health. 
  • Make sure you have the right gear and clothing, suitable for the type of workout and the weather. This also includes good running shoes with the right grip. This way, you can prevent falls and injuries.
  • Don't forget your stretching exercises after your workout. Your body will be grateful.

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