Ingenuity is on display at the Arbors of Rockwood subdivision in northwest Eureka, where resident Jennifer Daughaday, 42, has added fitness stations to existing trails, using cast-off rocks that have been unearthed in the construction of new homes.
Construction of the planned 526-home subdivision began in 2016, with more than half of the lots now built. Residents are witness to construction of new homes on an ongoing basis.
While taking in the scene in early April, a light bulb turned on for Daughaday.
“We live in a construction zone,” she said. “One of the houses across from us, they had just dug up these big holes and I said, ‘Look at the rocks, we could use those rocks to make natural (trail) markers.’”
Daughaday began collecting large rocks. She wrote exercises on them in black permanent marker and then doused the rocks with clear spray-paint so the lettering would stay on.
She said a fitness trail seemed like a good idea in the COVID-19 era.
“There’s so many people out walking now, but gyms are closed and it’s just a great way to add a little bit more (to the walking experience),” she said.
Daughaday, who works for the state Department of Mental Health, serving individuals with intellectual disability, said she started her own fitness journey in 2012 to lose weight after having her son.
She said creating the rock trail has helped her pass time at home. She has also been running to pass the time, taking part in many virtual races. Since the start of the stay-at-home order, Daughaday said she has run more than 285 miles in the neighborhood.
The Arbors of Rockwood is laced with trails, making use of sidewalks and paved walkways.
Daughaday said, so far, she has placed 15 rocks around the neighborhood, and is working on adding five or six more. Suggested exercises, lettered on the rocks, include high kicks (30 seconds), 10 lunges, 10 jumping jacks, and more.
The rocks give walkers options, from easier to harder, she said. They can choose how many repetitions of an exercise to do.
“When people are just starting, they can do five, then move up to 10 and then to 20,” Daughaday said.
One rock at the end of a dead-end street calls for a “Rocky Balboa celebration,” for a walker who has had a good workout.
Daughaday said she can see that rock from her house and has seen many neighbors do the celebration.
“I just get to chuckle,” she said.
Neighbor Tom Ferrari, 56, has joined in the concept, offering a “hydration station” rock in front of his yard.
“When you’re coming up Rockwood Arbor Drive (and) he’s out there, he’ll get you water, soda, beer – whatever hydration you need,” Daughaday said.
Ferrari said he has not tried out the fitness trail himself and does not plan to.
“I don’t walk,” he said. “I sit in my driveway every night and we socially distance and hydrate. Anybody who wants to stop by can, and I’ve met more neighbors in the last three months than I did in a year.”
Ferrari said he created his “hydration station,” because he saw so many residents using the fitness trail.
“It (his station) started out of me making fun of her in a nice way, but it’s become kind of a point of people stopping and talking,” he said.
Ferrari said his rock is lettered with this message: “BYO/ask.” His offer on beer, however, is somewhat conditional.
“I tell them, don’t abuse the privilege,” Ferrari said. “OK, because I only have beer from out of state.”
He said his beer selection includes Yuengling from Pennsylvania and Spotted Cow from Wisconsin.
Resident Corrin Brockschmidt said she has been using the fitness trail while riding her bike. She said when she sees a rock, she stops and does the exercises.
“I actually greatly appreciate it, because the exercises are things I normally wouldn’t think of doing,” she said. “I kind of go on autopilot, ride my bike.”
Brockschmidt said the trail has created a sense of community.
“In this neighborhood, everybody is looking out for each other,” she said. “We’re all going through the same thing.”