Provide Fitness for the Whole Community
Inactivity and the chronic illnesses it leads to continue to have a negative impact on the country's health, leading many communities to look for new ways to encourage activity. While many parks and recreation organizations provide relatively low-cost fitness centers, not everyone is willing to sign up for a membership, and a lot of people prefer to exercise outdoors. That's why outdoor fitness equipment installed in parks—free and usable for the whole community—represents a great opportunity to provide fitness for the entire community.
Q: We want to provide more opportunities for all of the members of our community to be active, regardless of age, income or ability. What should we consider?
A: Outdoor fitness areas can provide a free workout for just about any user, from teens to seniors, from novices to elite athletes and beyond.
You can bring fitness to every member of your community with an outdoor gym. Predesigned packages are available to fit just about any site configuration, offering a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training, or you can customize your own layout. Look for a variety of equipment to provide everything from circuit training to body-weight and adjustable resistance.
To encourage a full range of activity, you also should be sure to incorporate areas for stretching and popular functional fitness activities, along with group fitness activities, which continue to be very popular.
Q: We want to be sure to incorporate fitness equipment that can be used by every member of our community, including older patrons and those with disabilities. What should we consider?
A: Talk to your manufacturer about providing a diverse range of fitness equipment. ADA-accessible fitness equipment is available that targets a range of muscle groups for those with limited mobility, or for users who rely on wheelchairs.
A range of activities that help preserve or build agility while also improving strength, flexibility and balance will be beneficial for older adults.
Talk to your manufacturer about the best way to provide a variety of equipment that provides an effective workout for all ages and abilities.
Q: What else should we consider?
A: Carefully consider the best location for your fitness equipment. Visibility is important, as you want users to easily find and access the equipment. What's more, when fitness areas are highly visible, non-exercisers might be inspired when they see group activities or solo exercisers having fun and getting a good workout.
Location is just as important to accessibility as the equipment itself. Be sure parking is close by, and that you include accessible pathways to and from the fitness area.
Open spaces near playgrounds are ideal, as they encourage caregivers and parents to get active while kids are at play, inspiring lifelong fitness.
You also should consider providing shade, if necessary, to encourage users to work out when it's hot and sunny. Lighting is also a smart option if your fitness area will be available after dark.
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Greenfields Outdoor Fitness Inc.
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