Outdoor community gym spaces have become popular in the last few years, promoting good health in a social and relaxed environment, making exercise fun and communal, as well as accessible for all ages.
A study in 2013 based in Suffolk found that 75 percent or more of the participants of outdoor gyms believed that having a community gym was more accessible, enjoyable and beneficial to their health. It comes as no surprise that Oundle has joined this trend, and is now home to a small suite of outdoor gym equipment in the garden of the Oundle Library on Glapthorn Road.
The idea of installing an outdoor gym came about at the beginning of 2016. Jenny Smith, the secretary to Friends of Oundle Library said: ‘We wanted to provide something that was not already available in Oundle. Children are catered for in the Recreation Ground and Barnwell Country Park, so we decided to concentrate our thoughts on providing something for adults.’
The committee researched the costings and worked closely with Wicksteed Playscapes to establish whether potential users would actually use the equipment if they were to be installed. Early on they organised an open day with sample equipment and asked visitors which machines they thought would be used the most.
‘With advice from Su Davies, External Funding Manager ENC we approached Northamptonshire Community Foundation. We were awarded a grant of £8887.97 through the First for Wellbeing Fund. The grant covered the cost and installation of three exercise machines.’
The equipment is available all year round for those over 14 years of age, even after the library closes. ‘We hope it will be an addition to any fitness regime including the many runners, cyclists and walkers that use Glapthorn Road as part of their circuit, as well as standalone exercise at any time.’
There are three pieces of equipment: a pull down exerciser and chest press for strength; a skier for cardiovascular, mobility and toning; a hand and pedal cycle. Each machine is plated with details of the muscle groups that are engaged during the exercise, instructions on use, and recommended routine times for beginner, intermediate and advanced users.
Library patron Steve Havenga from Cotterstock visits the Oundle library a few times a week. He went to have a look at the equipment and was very impressed. ‘If it’s a space that promotes fun, fitness and well-being, what’s not to like?’
By Judah Stephenson