Outdoor park gyms really took off around 2007, due to the success established by China during the 1990's after providing similar equipment to city residents. If you have wandered through your local park in the last ten years you are probably familiar with the sight of outdoor gym equipment. Initially most gym equipment was placed next to playgrounds for children for the parents to use the equipment while their children are busy playing, councils later started spreading these around parks in a circuit that users could follow.
Outdoor gyms have been created to offer low-impact training in a simple and intuitive fashion. The variety of machines available target the core, upper body and lower body. The equipment also provides weight-based and cardiovascular strength exercises. The machines offer a variety of obstacles including benches, step-ups, hurdles, pull-up bars, leapfrog and parallel bars. The more recognisable features include weights for working on resistance and machines for cross-training.
Changing rooms have even been provided in certain parks.
Equipment Available in Local Outdoor Gyms
Almost all equipment will have an info card / board showing users the correct use of the equipment, especially handy for first time visitors.
Oblique machines and benches focus on the core by providing a challenge for the mid section. This will improve posture, provide protection for the back. The benches are excellent for crunches and sit-ups. The individual lies flat, hooks their feet beneath the bars, than raises their torso so the abdominal muscles are engaged. The sides of the core are strengthened when the feet are rotated on an oblique machine. Begin with two sets, eventually increasing to four sets.
The bikes, treadmills and cross-trainers are best for providing a gentle warm-up for the muscles and joints. Cardiovascular exercise will help with both weight management and heart health. This has also been proven to be important for assisting with symptoms for many issues including depression. Endurance can be increased when the individual pushes their body forward until their muscles experience a good burn, their face becomes a little red and they are breathless. If there is any physical pain, the exercise must be stopped immediately.
Shoulder machines and chest presses are an excellent way to build strength in the triceps muscles, shoulder and chest while working the upper torso. The individual sits on the machine prior to pushing the handles over their head or in a forward motion. The handles are then slowly lowered. A beginner should perform two sets between ten and fifteen reps to start, eventually increase to four sets of fifteen to twenty reps.
The latissimi dorsi or lats are the muscles located on the upper back on the outside of the shoulder blades. The pull-up bars and the machine will both provide a good workout for the biceps while strengthening the lats. The lat machine requires the individual to grab the handles, pull them downwards and squeeze the blades of the shoulders together using the muscles of the back. The pull-up bars require the individual to lift their chest with their shoulder blades down and back. The fitness beginner should start with two sets between ten and fifteen reps, gradually be increased to four sets of fifteen to twenty reps.
The leg press machine works the muscles located on the front of the thigh or the quads in addition to the muscles at the top of the bottom and the back of the legs or the hamstrings and glutes. This is a good workout for toning the lower portion of the body. The individual sits prior to using their feet to push their body off of the platform. The heels are kept down and the abs are engaged. The beginner should start with two sets of fifteen reps and increase to four sets of fifteen to twenty reps.
London Outdoor Gym Map
Please note that each park may not supply all the equipment listed above, but there are plenty to explore and improve your fitness.
If you are looking for more fitness fun in London this year, take a look at these other activities: