Alain Joinville, External Communications Manager
As a Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) employee, I sometimes forget the impact we have on Philadelphia and its citizens. However, my eye-opening experience in the Wissahickon Gorge a few weeks ago gave me a brand new perspective on the department that I’ve been working for since January 2008.
In the past, I’ve tried to exercise and stay healthy but my personal motivation and incentive to commit my time towards this effort was lacking. It wasn’t until last Spring, when I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, that my mindset changed. Although my diagnosis was not severe, I still used a machine at night to help with my breathing. I considered my health at risk, and started running at my neighborhood recreation center (Francisville Rec) and joined the YMCA in the Fall. Searching for a more varied and intense regimen, I finally made the commitment to join a CrossFit program.
My Crossfit coach, Brian, is a big fan of the Wissahickon. He goes there on weekends to walk and run, but also to “re-charge” and be at peace with nature. Last month, he let us know about a training in the Wissahickon that he was planning. This would be the first time we would go to the Wissahickon as a gym, and I was a little scared. I’d never been trail running before and I didn’t know what to expect, but I signed up anyway.
Even as a PPR employee and former Mt. Airy resident, I had never been deep into the Wissahickon until this training. The workout was difficult, but fun to accomplish. However, the environment we were in is what resonated with me the most. I was struck by my natural surroundings and the calmness of the park. Since it rained that day, I witnessed the water level of the creek rise from ankle to knee level in less than 30 minutes! I was also amazed at the variety of people and activities that were going on (running, walking, biking), and The Valley Green Inn was a great amenity that the park offered. I was really seeing Parks & Rec in action!
Not only did my Crossfit experience leave me feeling stronger and healthier, but it also helped me witness firsthand the opportunities that Philadelphia Parks & Recreation provides for citizens to grow physically and mentally. Not only am I planning to sign up for the next Crossfit training, but I also plan to go back to the Wissahickon on my own.
See photos and learn more about Alain’s Crossfit experience in the Wissahickon Gorge: