The Art Of Exercise

While most parks are designed to meet the needs of young children, the developers of Chattanooga’s Main Terrain collaborated with fitness enthusiasts to create a space that would inspire adults to engage in fun physical activity.


The first-of-its-kind, urban-art fitness park features a cushiony, slip-resistant surface that covers the ground along the oblong track encircling the park. Five fitness nodes comprised of 15-foot by 20-foot concrete pads also dot the track. Runners can pause and use the nodes to complete a few sets of repetitions before continuing on with cardio exercise.

PlayCore, a Chattanooga-based outdoor equipment manufacturer, and getBUILT Chattanooga CrossFit, a core strength and conditioning exercise program with a studio located directly across from the park, have partnered to incorporate fitness elements into Main Terrain.

Urban Placemaking
But the exercise component is not the only feature that makes the park unique. The 1.72-acre tract of land, which sat vacant and dilapidated until the revitalization, also includes a large-scale sculpture that spans the entire park.

Comprised of nine components, the tallest “piece” measures 24 feet high and weighs more than 9,000 pounds. Three of the components—resembling bridges suspended in the air—are stationed on a track that allows parkgoers to interact with the work, using “wheels” to turn the sculptures.

Marked as the termination point of long-abandoned rail lines, the land was an eyesore in the middle of the city’s revitalized Main Street district until internationally renowned artist Thomas Sayre was selected from a national competition to design the park.

“The space Main Terrain occupies was completely unusable before this concept developed,” says Mike Alley, owner of getBUILT. “Now, that area of the city will be brought to life with a well-thought-out, pretty green space for everyone to enjoy.”

The public green space connects the Chattanooga Convention Center, several corporate campuses, two urban hostels, an elementary school, hotels, restaurants, and South Chattanooga neighborhoods.

Overall, the park expands the momentum of revitalization and serves as a catalyst for further economic development in the city’s Southside district.

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga, a nonprofit, citywide arts council and funding source, one of only 51 nationwide Our Town grants to help with the project’s funding. Main Terrain also is supported by a partnership of numerous local businesses and nonprofits, including the city, Public Art Chattanooga, the Lyndhurst Foundation, Ross/Fowler Architecture, and Landscape Architecture.

To complete the design and create a distinct, multi-functioning gathering place, all of the businesses and nonprofits involved collaborated for months. As the design developed through the input of various groups and individuals, the scheme of the park was modified to include everyone’s ideas.

“It is all of the little details that have been integrated into Main Terrain’s design that add up to a more satisfying workout experience,” Alley says.

“The park is another pearl on the string of the redevelopment of Main Street. It’s exciting to see that transformation continue to happen.”