Park(ing) Day for Fitness 2022: results in numbers and in impact

By BgBeActive

The Park(ing) Day for Fitness ambition was to transform public spaces (parks, squares, and parking areas) into temporary provocations of a multi-sport day event to offer activities that promote active lifestyles and engage the public. The concept was developed into a Park(ing) Day for Fitness Manual. The simple message was spread to over 30 locations across Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Austria, France, and the Netherlands.

As a national coordinator in Bulgaria, BG Be Active launched in August 2022 an open call to invite grassroots sport organisations and sport activists to apply for the creation of their own Park(ing) Day for Fitness interventions. As a result, the activities occurred in 8 locations around the country with various forms of physical activity (petanque, yoga, balance, bicycle, kangoo etc.). The events were actively promoted in the media (the national/local radio, TV) and in the social media.

15 sports organizations and schools participated in the Park(ing) Day for Fitness activities in Romania in several key locations - Suceava, Iași, and Calarasi Regions with various types of activities (games, yoga, fitness, boxing, archery etc.). According to the national coordinator AJSPT Suceava, the initiative allowed to create a network of passionate partners, get a large number of participants active, and develop a network of active volunteers. Mihai Androhovici also mentions the geographical extension of activities:

“We also wanted to expand the activities outside the territorial area of our organization, which was successfully done in the east and south of Romania”.

In Poland, the main theme of organizing the Park(ing) Day for Fitness activities in Wroclaw was diversity. Most of the events have been placed in the heart of the city, which is eagerly visited not only by residents, but also by tourists. Main market square in Wroclaw is a characteristic place that allowed to draw attention to the current, but also former parking space and thus the constantly changing urban environment. V4Sport (the national coordinator for Poland) also managed to integrate the concept into the European Mobility Week. They highlight the novelty of the initiative:

“We believe that PDF is a great tool for the long term planning process for local communities. Being a low cost, low risk, high visibility solution, it offers inhabitants to see/experience possible sustainable changes that can be introduced if they get enough support”.

Most of the organized events in France proposed a multitude of physical and sports activities to reach a wider audience, and to test the feasibility of each of the activities and come out with findings on the most suitable. From Bretagne to the French Riviera, the local partner Azur Sport Sante spared no effort or ideas to make this European event a success and to invest in this collective cause. The flagship event unfolded in Nice with active game "Jeu Bouge +" and the street racket promoting simplicity and the adaptability with an urban environment not fitted out for the traditional practice of physical activity. The Azur Sport Sante team notices:

“We are proud to say that the PDF event was not only a one-shot informative event but a concept with a long-term impact on the conversations & actions we put in place amongst citizens, cities and spaces”.

The Park(ing) Day for Fitness activities took place in cities and villages throughout the Netherlands, with a predominant preference for the major cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, Bussum, and Barendrecht). Across the events, the programme involved a variety of creative ways to move and build advocacy around movement connecting communities for overall health. The organisers were mainly independent placemakers who had a passion for physical activity and health, and a minority of the organisers came from grassroot sports background. Anna Bradley from the Placemaking Europe team is certain about the potential of the initiative:

“We are also pleased that there are expected repeat activations, and sustainable using of the materials. We feel very positive that continuing this model into the future will only be even more successful”.

In Austria the Park(ing) Day for Fitness events took place in cities and villages throughout the city of Vienna. The residential streets dedicated to interventions and marked for access without permission at any time of the day – this helped transcend the concept and utilize the options available in the urban environments. The XsentrikArts team used the concept in two ways:

“We attempted to create two major outcomes from the events, which we hope will build bridges for further activities and engagements in the city. On the one hand, we exchanged with, and incorporated local sports organizations, and trainers. On the other hand, we made sure to include storytelling and film screenings as part of the concept in Vienna”.

In the long run, the Park(ing) Day for Fitness prompts low-cost, low-risk and high-provocation interventions in promoting physical activity in local communities. It allows for the local adaptation and gives an opportunity to the wide range of stakeholders and partners to present alternative ways of using public spaces (squares, parking areas, streets etc.). Overall, Park(ing) Day for Fitness gives courage to hold non-formal events in formal spaces.

Park(ing) Day for Fitness builds on the existing practices and guidelines provided by Rebar, where BG Be Active and the project consortium are adding an element of a multi-sport day event to offer activities that promote active lifestyles and engage the public. For more information, please check our website - .

Park(ing) Day for Fitness is funded by the European Union. The project coordinator is BG Be Active, and the other partner organizations are Placemaking Europe, Association Sport for all Suceava (AJSPT Suceava), V4 SPORT FOUNDATION, Azur Sport Sante, and XsentrikArts.

Posted on 02/03/2023 by BgBeActive