On May 18, 1968 the world’s first outdoor fitness trail, better known by its Swiss moniker Vita Parcours, opened in Zurich.
The idea for a trail came when a men’s gymnastics club decided to start training in the forest using natural obstacles, such as tree stumps and logs. But forest workers would clear the paths and the men would return to find their trail dismantled. So they approached the community with a proposal to create a permanent fitness trail, or parcourse. The idea was accepted and the trail found a sponsor, an insurance company by the name of Vita (now Zurich Insurance).
Today there are 499 Vita Parcoursexternal link in Switzerland. The average trail extends for about two kilometres and has 15 stations equipped with various exercise equipment. The exercises suggested at each stop promote strength, endurance and agility. These have been simplified over the trails’ 50-year history to allow families and non-athletic types to also enjoy the trails.
In 1993 the "Vita Parcours" Foundation was established. Every two years it undertakes checks of the trails for safety and stability. Municipalities or private organisations are in charge of maintenance and care of their local parcouses. Zurich Insurance provides the funds for equipment and trail construction.