How to Create an Outdoor Fitness Area
Throughout our lives, we need exercise and fresh air to feel good. Outdoor fitness areas offer both, helping people work out and get a daily dose of the outdoors at the same time. They work well in neighborhoods, near parks and along running trails. With fitness options for kids and adults, municipalities, homeowners associations (HOAs) and other organizations often turn to outdoor gyms to attract new residents, provide free fitness resources and help kids learn about health.
If you’re interested in building an outdoor fitness area, you’ll need to know a few things about the process.
Why Build an Outdoor Fitness Space?
An outdoor fitness park or exercise station has a lot to offer. Exercising outdoors can help reduce depression and anxiety, improve adherence to exercise routines, make workouts more enjoyable and help people connect with nature. It’s an excellent way to get a little more out of your workout with fresh air. These are great benefits for adults, but it also helps kids see how fun and healthy exercise can be.
Other benefits of outdoor gyms include:
- Convenience: Outdoor fitness courses are often located in neighborhoods, in parks, outside of apartment complexes and on trails. Since they’re so close to residences and regular activities, these areas can be a convenient place to work out. Instead of driving 10 miles to an indoor gym, someone might walk down the block to the fitness park.
- Affordability: Many outdoor gyms are free, so they’re a great resource for people looking to save money. It’s also convenient and eliminates fees and subscriptions.
- Attracting people to certain spaces: Outdoor gyms can draw people toward underutilized spaces, such as trails, parks or neighborhoods. These areas can also create socialization opportunities for people to gather or take classes together.
- Eco-friendliness: Indoor gyms use a lot of energy. They need to power large electrical equipment, lighting systems, cooling systems and other features. Outdoor gyms are much simpler. An electricity-free workout is ideal for people and organizations looking to reduce their carbon footprints.
- Education: Most indoor gyms are for adults only, but outdoor gyms can feature child-friendly equipment, such as a fitness course made of frames or a set of parallel bars at kid height. Parents can use these setups to help kids learn about exercise and stay physically fit.
Types of Outdoor Gyms
Outdoor gyms can come in a few different styles. Generally, they’re made up of non-electric equipment that people can use for cardio or strength training exercises. They can also have amenities like water fountains, benches or even changing areas.
Some varieties of outdoor fitness parks include:
- Centralized outdoor gyms: A centralized outdoor gym is set up like a park, with multiple pieces of equipment in one location. It typically has comfortable surfacing to walk on and may be located near a parking lot or other amenities. These gyms offer a great way to improve access to equipment for people who might live far from an indoor gym. They’re also affordable, a great place to socialize and can motivate passersby to get involved.
- Trail fitness stations: Another option is to place a few pieces of equipment along a trail or pathway. The trail offers an opportunity for running or biking, while the exercise stations can introduce some strength training for a well-rounded workout.
- Youth fitness spaces: Outdoor gyms can also be geared toward kids. An outdoor gym for kids can help them learn about these healthy habits and burn off their energy. It’s also a great place to encourage family bonding.
Things to Consider When Building an Outdoor Fitness Park
Building an outdoor fitness park calls for careful planning, so keep the following elements in mind.
Your budget will determine what kind of equipment you can use for an outdoor gym. The budgeting process may be different depending on whether the equipment is part of a larger project, a separate addition or individual equipment stations. You might need to talk to other people involved in the project to determine what your budget looks like and how you can use it.
Some factors to consider in your budget include:
- Site planning and surface preparation
- The equipment itself
- Signage and amenities
- Installation and ongoing maintenance
- Promotion or marketing
If your budget isn’t as big as you’d like it to be, consider a fundraising campaign. You may also be able to look into using public funds or fees, such as those collected by an HOA.
Choose the location of your fitness park carefully. You want to put it somewhere that’s visible enough to draw attention and will be conveniently located for residents. Consider placing it near parking or other workout facilities, like trails, a tennis or basketball court or a pool.
Wherever you place your outdoor fitness area, you’ll need a space with good drainage and a relatively flat surface.
3. Proper Equipment Use
Whether it’s made for kids or adults, your outdoor gym design should reduce the chance of people using equipment incorrectly. If the equipment is for adults, you’ll need to communicate that, such as by using signage or putting up a fence. Be cautious about proximity to a playground. Adult fitness parks work well next to playgrounds, but you’ll need to put enough distance between the two or a barrier to separate them.
Other features that can help people use a fitness area include signage on how to use the equipment and good lighting if people will be able to access it after dark. If the area will be in a private community, you could also use a key card or code to restrict access.
4. Target Users
Consider who will be using the equipment. A large area like a centralized fitness park might pair well with amenities like changing rooms or showers, but smaller setups that are close to the users’ homes might not need those. A fitness area in a neighborhood with a lot of kids could be the perfect spot for child-friendly exercise equipment, while a setup outside of an apartment complex with older adults might benefit from one with a lot of space for group classes and socializing.
Identify who you’ll be serving with the equipment, and ask them questions. See what residents would like to see.
5. Types of Equipment
When choosing equipment, think about factors like space and durability. The equipment needs to have enough room on the sides to be used while reducing the risk of bumping into other people exercising. Equipment should also be durable, so you know it can withstand exposure to sunlight, rain, wind and snow.
Make sure your equipment covers a range of different muscle groups, like the back and shoulders, chest and core. Other pieces of equipment might work with agility, balance and cardio. Some options you could use for these areas include:
- Vertical climbs and rope climbs
- Balance beams
- Hyperextension benches
- Sit-up and body curl benches
- Dip stations
- Push-up bars
An outdoor fitness space can also include comfortable amenities, like:
- Water fountains
- Trash and recycling receptacles
- Bike racks
- Hand sanitizer
- Changing areas
Find Fitness Equipment From Miracle® Recreation
If you’re building an outdoor exercise space, you’ll need quality equipment designed for fun and fitness. Miracle Recreation offers a wide range of fitness equipment for both kids and adults, so you can build the perfect experience for the entire community to stay in shape and have fun doing it. We can also help with the rest of the process, such as designing the space and fundraising.
To learn more about how Miracle Recreation can help, get in touch with your local representative today.