MI Big Green Gym Inspires Park Pride

MI Big Green Gym Inspires Park Pride

This story was created in conjunction with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

MI Big Green Gym
Photo courtesy MI Big Green Gym

Those of us that are lucky enough to live, work and play in Michigan are mostly aware of how exceptionally lucky we are to have access to a bevy of beautiful local and state parks. In partnership with Michigan Recreation and Parks Association and the Department of Natural Resources, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has launched the MI Big Green Gym initiative to encourage folks to take their exercise into the great outdoors. The Mitten has so many fantastic parks that are accessible to the public; this kind of physical engagement with the community and nature is good for Michiganders’ health in all aspects, including physical, emotional, and spiritual well being.

Whether Michiganders are looking for a weekend of camping, or just a day outdoors, the state park system has something for every need. MRPA member agencies have worked tirelessly to accommodate all levels of fitness and enthusiasm offering numerous affordable activities, classes, and programs. To find out more, residents can contact a local agency or visit the State Parks of Pure Michigan page to find parks, resources and additional information.

Michigan residents are so fortunate to have the opportunity to explore the outdoors and be active throughout a diversity seasons, and coupled with that luck is the support of an infrastructure that is invested in a healthier future for the state as a whole.  To make participation and exploration more of a priority, the Michigan Recreation Passport not only makes it affordable to tour the parks, but they also have a Passport Perks Program to reward the community. So for a mere $11, Michiganders can have full access to the state parks, as well as reap the rewards of many participating community members.

A Healthier Michigan: William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor
Photo courtesy A Healthier Michigan: William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor

Need more reasons to love the parks and recreation facilities across the state? MI Big Green Gym is also home to a “healthy” competition between the the City of Kalamazoo, the City of Marquette, and Grand Traverse Counties called the Blues Community Challenge (there is also a Winter Warm Up version of this event in other communities). It is during these challenges that the communities “challenge” one another to create teams and log their hours of activity. Not only does this encourage community growth and participation, but it also spurs an enthusiasm for going outdoors and fully utilizing all of the amazing resources available to Michiganders.

A Healthier Michigan: Maybury State Park
Photo courtesy A Healthier Michigan: Maybury State Park

Recently, the MRPA announced that Michigan parks were going mobile. In conjunction with Mousetrap Mobile, the MRPA created a free SMART Parks app and text alert service to help Mitten explorers easily navigate the state’s most scenic parks and recreation areas. This is just one of the many ways that Michigan is looking out for and trying to make being active more accessible and exciting.

With all of the opportunity afforded to Michiganders, there is no reason to stay inside this summer. Mitten folk have so much available to them, and exploration of the state’s parks has never been easier! Where are your favorite parks? What do you like to do most at any of Michigan’s many local and state parks and recreation centers?

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I was raised in vacation-land, Traverse City, where I was one of the lucky ones to enjoy the beach in the summer and snowboard through the winters. Then, I went to college and lived in East Lansing and Lansing, where I learned about sports and getting things done. Now I'm quite honestly falling head over heels for Detroit. I solemnly believe that life is too short for bad coffee, yucky wine, and poorly crafted beer. This means that Michigan is the perfect place for me! My spare time is spent reading or exploring the outdoors. E-mail me: joanna@awesomemitten.com.