Fresh air fitness
Outdoor gyms have been growing in popularity and can now be found in over 500 locations across the UK. The gyms are free to use and are reported to have had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the people who use them. Marina Court, Tewkesbury didn’t want to miss out -and just look at the results!
Marina Court resident Margo Baron (pictured) tried out the new equipment during the grand opening in April, which attracted over 100 residents and visitors.
Everyone who attended took part to celebrate the opening of their new outdoor gym. Other activities that were available on the day and form part of the regular schedule of activities included boxercise, pilates, table tennis and tai chi.
The installation of the gym is the most recent example of how Marina Court has worked with local partners to generate funding to improve the estate and benefit the local community. Residents and the local community also work hard to make the estate a real community hub, which benefits everyone in the local area.
Operations Manager Rowena Hindle explains: ‘Marina Court opened back in 2007 after receiving additional grant funding of £4m pounds from the Department of Health. The plan back then was that Marina Court would have a Wellbeing Coordinator to provide services for our customers and the community.
'When we first opened the Therapy Suite (now more commonly known as the Community Hub), we offered a range of activities and events.
'However when guests came to the main doors they were locked, which was not very welcoming! Eight years on, we have open doors in working hours and a broad range of things to do which are run by lots of different people including residents, Hanover employees and outside agencies.
'Marina Court residents hold a bank account and all money made from the Hub is used on the estate for the benefit of everyone. Also, due to the increased popularity of the Hub it now makes additional money on top of its room hire which is put towards running costs and cleaning.
'We have used money generated by the Hub and additional grants to buy table tennis tables (outdoors or indoors), new archery equipment which is designed so it can also be used by people who have a disability, and of course our new outdoor gym.
'Initially residents were concerned about crime and misuse as the gym is on the estate grounds, but by working with the local Police and Crime Commissioner we soon overcame most of the concerns. In fact, as Marina Court is used by so many people it should help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour as the more people that use it, the more eyes there are to look after it.
'Now summer is here we are seeing more and more people using the gym; I even try and fit in a go when I visit on my lunch time – it really is good fun but not too much like hard work!’
The gym has five pieces of equipment which are all designed to work different parts of the body. Each piece of equipment is low impact, making them easy to use even for people who have never been to a gym before. The benefits of outside gyms have been researched by Liverpool John Moores University and the findings are very encouraging.
Since first using an outdoor gym, between 44% and 54% of all participants who had used the outdoor equipment and between 52% and 72% of regular users who used an outdoor gym once a week or more reported:
- Having increased confidence to take part in physical activity
- Undertaking more physical activity
- Feeling physically fitter and healthier
- Benefits for mental wellbeing: feeling more relaxed and less stressed
These findings are echoed by Nolah Wilding a member of the community who lives near Marina Court: ‘The gym is fantastic, I try and use it at least twice a week and I can feel myself getting fitter and fitter all the time.’