Take Outdoor Fitness to the Next Level

With an epidemic of overweight and inactivity continuing to take its toll, with high medical costs and increased rates of chronic illness, many communities are looking for new ways to encourage people to get fit. While you'll never get everyone who needs to exercise to sign up for a gym membership, there are ways to boost fitness opportunities in the great outdoors. Communities are increasingly in- stalling outdoor fitness equipment in parks, near playgrounds and along trails, providing an opportunity for every community member to get active and improve their fitness.

Q: We provide a fitness center at our local recreation center, but we'd like to increase opportunities to encourage all members of our community to get active. What should we consider?

A: Outdoor fitness equipment is available in a wide array of designs and configurations to help you raise the bar for fitness in your community. There are solutions that will fit into just about any site configuration, whether you have a large or small space.

Talk with manufacturers of outdoor fitness equipment about your goals and space. You can find predesigned packages that provide a full range of cardio, strength and flexibility training, or you can customize your own layout. What's more, you can start small and go big as funds become available, adding on to your outdoor gym over time.

Your outdoor fitness area should include a range of durable equipment, designed specifically for use outdoors. You can find equipment for circuit training, body-weight and adjustable resistance and more. Combining units will provide a full-body workout.

In addition to your fitness equipment, you should consider providing space or zones for stretching and boot camp activities, as well as group fitness activities like Zumba and yoga, which are increasingly popular.

Q: Can we find outdoor fitness equipment that will accommodate older visitors and folks with disabilities? We want to be sure everyone's included.

A: Your community is diverse, and your fitness area should be, too. You can find ADA-accessible fitness equipment that will allow users to target a range of muscle groups, for users who have limited mobility or who use wheelchairs.

Older adults will benefit from a range of activities that help to preserve or build agility, while also increasing strength and flexibility. Ask your manufacturer about fitness equipment that is designed to provide effective, safe workouts for all ages.

Q: Where should we install our outdoor fitness equipment?

A: Location is a crucial factor in your planning. You want your fitness equipment to be easy to see and easy to access. Unused tennis and shuffleboard courts can easily be converted into a fitness area. If you have open space near a playground, this will encourage caregivers to get active while the kids play.

Access is also important. There should be parking nearby, and pathways to and from the fitness area should be accessible for people with disabilities.

In addition to location, consider how and when people will be using the equipment. Will a shade covering encourage users to work out on hotter days? Will lighting make it easier to work out after dark?



Greenfields Outdoor Fitness Inc.