Using Outdoor Gyms: An Untapped Resource for Personal Trainers

Exercise keeps growing larger and larger. Whether you’re a fan of sports clubs, love hitting the gym or prefer to run by yourself – getting fit can be done in many different ways. And now there’s a new trend in town: outdoor fitness. We’re not saying that exercising outside is anything new – people have been using parks to practice football or go for their daily run for years – but what is new is the outdoor gym. These nifty, socially provided resources can be a major boon to both new personal trainers and those well established in the business. In this article, we look at this trend to see what benefits outdoor exercise could have for you and your clients.

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Outdoor Gyms: what are they?

So, what do we mean when we talk about an outdoor gym? In essence, these are pieces of equipment that you might find in a normal fitness centre that has been adapted for permanent outdoor use. That means they are sturdy and durable to any kind of weather. Just like at a normal gym there is a real range of equipment that can be used, but most outdoor gyms will at least include some weight machines, maybe bars to hang from, specially adapted step-master type equipment and a variety of lower limb exercisers. The equipment in an outdoor gym tends to be cemented firmly into the ground and built on tarmac foundations.

Generally, these outdoor fitness park’s are funded by the government. That could mean a central government in low-income area or more commonly the local council. Residents have fought battles to get this type of equipment into their community, calling for public health spending to be sequestered off to this area. Advocates of outdoor exercise say these gyms make getting fit easier while also making it more accessible to all kinds of residents, encouraging good long-term heart health and cholesterollevels. Many are used by young people who would not be able to afford a regular gym membership.

Outdoor Gyms: Where to find them

So, if you’re a personal trainer or a keen exerciser interested in trying out this new form of activity, where might you find an outdoor gym? The best thing to do is using an online mapping service for your local area. Many outdoor gyms are registered along with their exact geographical location. You could also try looking at your local council web pages to see whether they have found any additional information. Some sites will include a full list of all the free to use outdoor fitness parks available in that area.

The other way to find your nearest outdoor gym is to simply ask around your community of personal trainers and fitness professionals. They will use these sites regularly and should be able to point you in the right direction. Indeed, if you exercise in local parks yourself you may very well stumble across them while out for a jog. Most are located in central parks and recreational centres to make them easy for lots of people to get to.

Outdoor Exercises: Why and how

Now we’ve covered the what and the where, it’s important to question why? Why is outdoor exercise important? Why might you use an outdoor gym?

There are lots of great reasons why this is a good move both for those keen on personal exercise and anyone who currently trains clients or is interested in doing so. Here are our top five reasons for using outdoor fitness equipment.

The Top Five Advantages of using Outdoor Fitness Equipment

Outdoor gyms save money

The costs of accessing gym equipment can really drain profits from the average personal trainer so the biggest advantage of using either a outdoor gym or an outdoor fitness park is the cost saving. This type of equipment is specifically designed to be free for anyone to use – including those training clients.

Outdoor fitness makes you feel great

Another reason to do some outdoor fitness is that it makes you feel great. Whether you are training other people or working on your own tight abs, the fact is that a little fresh air and some greenery can make a big difference to your workout. Indeed, it can make you more motivated to train while also providing you with re-invigoration. There’s nothing like working up a sweat in the park, beating hands down the sweaty bunkers of many an inner-city gym. Try going just after dawn or during twilight for some motivating backdrops and beautiful scenery while you work out, too.

Outdoor gyms have good quality equipment

Because exercising outside is cheaper it  does not mean it offers less quality. Outdoor gyms are put in by the local council and designed to be used by lots of people and, most importantly, to be sustainable.

Outdoor fitness parks are easily accessible for many clients

Many clients we see have a pretty up and down history when it comes to exercise. Some have tried to get fit in the past with attempts ending in failure. As such, a good proportion of clients will probably have negative associations with gyms. And that’s why taking them to a place outside, where they can get used to the equipment without those associations kicking in, is a very wise decision. It avoids the smell and ambience that they might find stressful. We’ve had many clients coming to us being embarrassed about starting out training. Quite often they’d prefer to be somewhere without the high concentration of super buff bodies – at least until they feel a little bit more comfortable.

Outdoor exercises: Great advertising

Last, but by no means least, outdoor exercises can be great advertising for you and your business. By definition you’re going to reach not only more people, but a wider range of clientele when you are outside. When training people in the gym, the other people who see you are already into exercise, whereas when you’re out and about with a client, people that are keen to get fitter but haven’t found the motivation yet, are more likely to see you. Maximise this effect by wearing branded work-out gear, making sure your name and contact details are easily visible. That way you are both working and marketing yourself and are likely to pick up a good few new clients.

So, you want to work out in an outdoor gym, what kind of routine should you then use? There are lots of different ways to use this kind of resource to your advantage – something that largely depends on the particular pieces available to you. However, here are a few suggestions for great workout routines to help you get started.

A quick but effective outdoor routine

Try doing the following ten times each. Remember to take a short break in between each one and stretch out properly before and after. Then repeat the set. Do it twice for beginners, three times for clients whom are more experienced and four times for an experienced pro. Remember though: always be careful about injuries, never do more than is safe, adapt your activities to how your client feels at the time and if in any doubt, check with a qualified medical professional before undertaking any new exercise regime. So here it goes:

  1. Lunge
  2. Press-ups
  3. Bunny hop your way over a low-positioned beam
  4. Foot to bar leg raises
  5. Chin up
  6. Squat

Try this out for a great, full-body muscle work-out and see how you find it. Outdoor fitness parks are endlessly customisable to how you want to use them, so once you have tried it out you can develop your own workout using the equipment available in your area and tailored exactly to your own or your client’s fitness goal.

Using an Outdoor Fitness Park: Key Etiquette Tips

It is worth ending with a word on outdoor fitness park etiquette. It is also important to treat the equipment with as much respect as you would in your normal gym. Be sure to bring a sweat towel with you to wipe down the weight machines or cross-trainer. Avoid scratching and breaking, and report any unsafe or broken equipment to the local authority.

Personal trainers are used to handling gym equipment. They will easily adapt to using the fun options available in local parks. It’s free and especially in summer months can be a lot of fun to work out outside. Try these great public resources and see the benefits it could bring to your training.


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Written by Luke Hughes


Luke is the CEO for OriGym, with a masters degree and 1st class honours degree in sport and exercise science and is a qualified personal trainer. Luke loves playing football and running, but his main passion is for cycling, where he can often be found cycling round the Lake District on a Sunday afternoon!