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Maine health co-op is offering half a million dollars in grants to build outdoor fitness courts

Lewiston-based Community Health Options is offering a half a million dollar in grant money to cities, towns, schools and organizations to build outdoor fitness courts.

The insurance co-op is partnering with the National Fitness Campaign on the effort. Health and wellness program manager Amanda McKenzie says the courts have been built in other communities throughout the U.S. They're 1,000 square feet and have multiple stations for bodyweight exercises.

"The way that I think of the fitness courts is really the world's best free outdoor gym," she says. "We know that physical movement and time outdoors, both of those things are so important in maintaining physical and psychological health."

McKenzie says grant awardees will get training to offer classes, and users can also download a mobile app to access free workouts. Community Health Options says the goal is to build 10 fitness courts across the state this year.