Practical examples and inspiration from the seminar “Exercise in public spaces” in Bern, 10.11.2016

The seminar “Exercise in public spaces” held by the IAKS Switzerland at the “Haus des Sports” of the Swiss Olympic sports umbrella organisation in Ittigen near Bern on 10 November 2016 was attended by some 75 participants. Swiss Olympic Vice Director Cornel Hollenstein first presented the umbrella association of the Swiss sports federations, before a total of 9 experts from Switzerland, Austria and Germany gave their talks.

In his keynote address, Prof. Dr Robin Kähler presented examples from German urban and rural municipalities, underlining that Germany and Switzerland have the same views on sports development in public spaces. His advocacy of the networking principle in urban development went down well with his audience.

Simone Weber from the sports department of the municipality of Bern and Thomas Mullis from Helsana Trails argued in favour of good signposting of running courses. Existing paths in the countryside should be included and runners both with and without smartphones should be supplied with plenty of information on the running course. The talk was rounded off with a report on positive experience with outdoor fitness equipment.

The network presented by Markus Capirone, SchweizMobil, shows maps of local communities with cycle, skating and running routes marked on them.

According to Fadri Cazin, Modular AG, mountain bike routes in the mountains should be well planned so that no erosion due to run-off can be caused. Andreas Halter explained how pump tracks can be built with precast/prefabricated elements. The facility set up outside the seminar building was put to lively use in the lunch break.

The talk on the exercise-stimulating route to school by Wolfgang Becker, Director of Salzburg’s University Sports Facility, showed how the “parent taxi” can be rendered superfluous with little effort. Taking the example of the municipality of Rif, his video film showed how much fun going to and from school can be. In his second talk, Becker spoke out in favour of making sports facilities intended for the training of sports teachers and elite athletes available without restriction to the general public. With up to 25 courses per semester, sport is made additionally attractive.

The Vitaparcours, now in existence for almost 50 years, has not lost its appeal. Barbara Baumann of Stiftung Vitaparcours described the origin and future of these running and exercise courses. These facilities are still financially supported by a foundation sponsored by the Zurich insurance company.

Peter Bielmann of the sports department of the City of Zurich reported on vandalism at public changing rooms. An electronic access system has improved the situation and reduced surveillance costs to a minimum.

Finally, Roger Gut presented highlights of the IAKS study trip to Copenhagen which has resulted in innovative strategies for sport and integration (detailed report in “sb” issue 4/2016 and at

The talks given at the seminar “Exercise in public spaces” can be downloaded at