More and more exercise equipment is sprouting up across parks and open green spaces as demand for outdoor gyms is set to rise by 1,200% in 2012. We take a look at why this might be happening, and how you can kit yourself out if you’re thinking of taking your work out into the fresh air.
An upward trend
Outdoor exercise equipment has been around since the birth of exercise equipment. But it’s only since 2007 – when The Great Outdoor Gym Company (GOGC) started specialising in outdoor ranges, having seen how successful they were in China – that it’s been growing steadily in popularity.
GOGC provide much of the same equipment as you’d use in the gym – treadmills, cross-trainers, benches, recumbent bikes, handbikes, pull-up bars and leg press machines. Charlotte Tarrant of GOGC believes that the two factors preventing people from using gyms are cost and accessibility. Outdoor gyms get rid of those deterrents.
Author of Nudge – Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, Richard Thaler, goes even further. He thinks that people avoid gyms because they don’t like being told what to do, and find them to be intimidating places. He thinks that the government could be missing a trick by pouring money into local leisure centres, because people still won’t go to the gym. And who hasn’t been put off by a huge guy grunting loudly and dropping weights left, right and centre, or that girl with the perfect figure who looks like she actually lives there?
Thaler believes that outdoor gyms will be far better at encouraging people to exercise, as they are literally in people’s way, set up in locations that they already visit. If you’re taking your dog for a walk, giving your little one a breath of fresh air in the pram, or taking your toddler to the playground, why not make the most of the time by exercising yourself?
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail
Next time you do any of the above, just kit yourself out in some exercise gear that means you’re ready to do a little workout, should you fancy it. Being outside means you’ll need some robust shoes, rather than any old plimsolls. Some tough, stylish Nike footwear will ensure your outfit looks great – even if you do fall off the pull-up bars! You might also want to consider a waterproof windcheater or training top, as our weather seems impossible to predict at the moment.
Visit your local council website to find out the location of your nearest outdoor gym!