The Grugapark health trail in Essen

Getting fit is just a bonus

A course for everyone in a park for everyone.

The city of Essen has succeeded in creating contemporary exercise opportunities for the young and the old – and all in the fresh air.

The Grugapark Essen was created to mark the first Great Ruhr Horticultural Exhibition (Gruga) in 1929. After destruction during the war, reconstruction and expansion, the Federal Garden Show 1965 was held here, among other events.

In 2012, the City of Essen developed the “Grugapark 2020 Park Development Concept” to offer contemporary exercise opportunities for young and old – all in the fresh air and in a protected space

The centrepiece of this project is the “health trail”, featuring twelve different stations. The exercise course, the largest of its kind, is from playfit.

On the “health trail”, interested people of all ages can enhance their vitality and motor skills with a high fun factor.

The goal of the Park Development Concept is “more movement for young and old”. To this end, a very impressive circular path has been created in the Grugapark, linking twelve stations. People of all ages can now test and boost their vitality and motor skills along this “health trail” in a playful and fun way.

In addition to seven stations with a variety of different challenges, the Grugapark now also features five equipment courses. The playfit® training course consists of 17 pieces of equipment. This makes it the largest and most diverse location within the park.   

Promoting health ” quite incidentally” is the basic idea behind the offers in the Grugapark. This works very well.

The Grugapark is located close to the city centre, right next to Messe Essen (Essen Trade Fair). Covering around 60 hectares, the park is used for local recreation, as a place for play and sport and is also a venue for events. There are also lots of different species of animals, and one of the largest sculpture exhibitions in Germany can be found here.

And by the way: Here, you can do a lot of good things for your health. This subtle message is the basic idea behind the new offerings: All of them are aimed at all visitor and user groups, such as children, senior citizens and people with different handicaps.

The playfit training course is the largest of a total of twelve stations on the health trail.

The playfit training course is the second of a total of twelve stations on the health trail. Here, all parts of the body can be trained in a targeted or playful way – as balance, strength and endurance training.

The 17 pieces of equipment also promote flexibility and bounce. Some of them, such as the wheelchair trainer, the Duplex shoulder trainer or the arm bike, are also designed for use by wheelchair users, marking an important contribution to inclusion.

Massage and fascia training are on offer on several pieces of equipment to help visitors relax. This is especially popular for a tense back and tired legs.

All the focal points of the health trail are brought together at one place in the playfit training course.

The health trail is divided into different themes: “Balancing and equilibrium”, “Motor skills and coordination”, “Strength training and muscle building” and “Endurance and circulation”.

All these focal points are brought together in one place in the playfit training course. Several pieces of equipment are available for each of the areas. Instructions can be found on the equipment as well as on information signs. A display board featuring safety instructions explains how to use the equipment correctly.

After training, the kiosk right next door offers refreshments and ample seating under shady umbrellas. Sanitary facilities are also nearby.

The individual stations are easy to find and yet secluded enough to allow for sufficient privacy during training.

The other four equipment courses in the Grugapark each offer two or three pieces of equipment, where the focus can be on balance, coordination, strength or endurance.

There is a wide range of activities at the other seven stations: A Kneipp facility, a barefoot path, a low ropes course, a calisthenics facility, a rope rocker, a swivel disc and a graduation house for breathing training.

The locations of the individual stations have been carefully selected. They are easy to find, and yet secluded enough that there is always enough privacy. This helps push anyone who might normally be a little shy, and means more spontaneous users. In addition, there are joggers, walkers and strollers who make full use of the park and the playfit training course by making them part of their training programme.

playfit training courses make an important contribution to health promotion and inclusion – also in the Grugapark.

The idea of linking all the new exercise opportunities via a circular route is logical, and it works. The offerings take into account people’s increasing need for more health and exercise opportunities, and are equally appealing to all generations of visitors.

The health trail in the Grugapark, and the playfit training course in particular, play an important role in promoting a healthy lifestyle and inclusion.

The Grugapark is visited by almost one million people a year. Since the opening of the first stations along the health trail in 2014, the number of visitors has been increasing significantly. A job well done!

We did this.

Project Data


playfit GmbH
Brauerknechtgraben 53
D – 20459 Hamburg


Stadt Essen


Grugapark Essen
Virchowstraße 167
D – 45147 Essen




Martin Michalak Fotografie
Weidenhagen 33
D – 44869 Bochum


Johannes Bühlbecker
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