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Oct 13, 2010 12:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Outdoor fitness park opens behind Studio 89 in Sag Harbor

Oct 13, 2010 12:13 PM

At first glance, “the Pit” looks like a giant sandbox with plenty of newfangled playground equipment—until one notices that the monkey bars stand 8 feet off the ground, a rope netting apparatus rises 14 feet into the air, and a vertical rope climb soars 20 feet skyward. Gargantuan tires strewn about are more American Gladiator than child’s swing: they weigh anywhere from 75 to 800 pounds.

The Pit is a one-of-a-kind outdoor fitness park that just opened behind Studio 89, the exclusive private gym at 89 Clay Pit Road in Sag Harbor, 
run by muscular fitness enthusiast Rich Decker, who became the managing director of the Hamptons Gym Corporation earlier this year.

With 6 inches of ocean sand underfoot, the unstable surface of the park is purposely designed to up the ante. Running, jumping and even walking are more challenging when done on ever-shifting sands than they 
would be on grass or a hard floor, Mr. Decker explained while striding across the pit last week. The white sand was trucked in by Wainscott Sand & Gravel, he said.

The approximately 20,000-square-foot park is ringed by a 0.1-mile track composed of 6 inches of baseball diamond dust and 1 inch of crushed brick—with the exception of a small loop jutting off from the track that includes granite steps followed by—or preceded by, depending on one’s direction—a steeply sloped incline.

“It’s kind of like a grown-up’s playland,” Mr. Decker said, with pride.

The site of Studio 89 was formerly a plumbers’ warehouse, with the pit area once a parking lot for trucks, the trainer explained.

The newly opened facility includes an array of apparatuses intended to work every part of the body, using gravity, suspension, balance, resistance and explosive moves rather than run-of-the-mill machines. A sampling of the equipment includes agility poles for racing through, agility ladders laid on the ground for jumping across, TRX suspension training for a wide range of body-weight-based moves, orange rubber hurdles for bounding over and resistance cords that can be attached to one’s back, thighs or ankles for an ultimate resistance workout.

And those massive old tractor tires? They have multiple uses: pushing, pulling, pushups, step-ups are just the beginning.

The possibilities for obstacle-course creation are infinite. Especially so, because, as Mr. Decker says, he might easily have someone drop to the sand to do 20 push-ups or jumping jacks before, say, climbing the rope. Mr. Decker said his goal is to shock the mind as much as the muscles.

Also, those looking for more of a strength-based workout can do more lifting, for example, whereas those seeking more of an endurance workout can do more laps.

The ceiling-free Pit is a true extension of the outdoor training to Studio 89, where large garage doors remain open for about nine months out of the year, lending an open air atmosphere to the gym. Mr. Decker said he enjoys working outside greatly. He is also looking to install some outdoor showers at the facility.

Leaping off the track onto a small hill overlooking a 1-acre wooded area, Mr. Decker said his next project will involve creating natural running trails between the trees. He anticipates finishing that task by the spring.

In the meantime, “the Pit” is open. A handful of young women of varying fitness levels hit the sand last Saturday morning for a “boot camp.”

An open house celebrating its opening will be held at the site this Saturday, October 16, at noon, and registration for classes and training is now open.

But participants should be aware they will not be in for an ordinary workout.

“We like to stay on the unique side of things,” Mr. Decker said.

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Great way to combine health and fitness with the great outdoors, thinking beyond the confines of the walls. Great idea!
By Brad (28), Northampton on Oct 18, 10 2:37 PM
I love that its exclusive. Keeps the riff raff out. Thats so 'hamptons' .!!

By C Law (354), Water Mill on Oct 18, 10 5:50 PM