KOMPAN Fitness Institute

Outdoor Fitness Spaces for Different Users

Design the ideal outdoor fitness site

Outdoor fitness has evolved tremendously over the past decade, and today, it is possible to create outdoor fitness sites that can compete with indoor fitness centres. Knowing how to create essential aspects of outdoor gyms that are attractive, effective, and cater to various types of users is vital. Users can roughly be grouped by age, gender, skill level, degree of cognitive/physical challenges or a combination of all of these characteristics.

The ideal fitness site can be very different for different types of users, and knowing the desires of the expected users is, therefore, extremely important when choosing the right equipment and site design.

Different categories of equipment:

  1. Game arenas: These are a great supplement to fitness as they provide social playfulness with an appeal to younger users.

  2. Obstacle courses: Develop motor skills and provide fun challenges.

  3. Street workout equipment: Also known as calisthenics or just bodyweight exercises. Simple equipment that requires some skill and strength, making it well-suited for young and fit individuals.

  4. Functional training equipment: Also known as crosstraining - is fun equipment that engages multiple muscle groups in each exercise, often incorporating dynamic equipment like kettlebells and suspension trainers.

  5. Strength training equipment: These machines allow users to select their desired weight and exercise, like leg press, pull-down, or chest press, are user-friendly and easily adjustable.

  6. Cardio equipment: Such as ellipticals, bikes, arm bikes, and step benches, cater to a wide range of users.

  7. Specialised equipment for seniors and rehabilitation: Focusing on balance, mobility, and fall prevention.

Let's Move

Designing for pre-teens

Outdoor fitness spaces for young people aged 8-12 will ideally include a mix of Street Workout and play equipment. Obstacle and Ninja Warror-style courses can also be a good addition as they are inherently playful and challenging. Combining fitness equipment with play equipment (within Australian standard compliance regulations) makes it possible to create active sites that appeal to this age group. Depending on the equipment's age certification, a minor separation between play and fitness is often required, as seen in the illustration below.

Designing for teenagers

If your target group is teenagers, it's best to include strength and cardio equipment which offer an effective workout like those from an indoor fitness centre. We know from Australian Institute of Health & Welfare data that fitness is one of the most popular activities for this age group. Additionally, this type of training is very inclusive because it doesn't require the user to be fit or have particular skills. Including a MUGA and some Street Workout equipment can provide diversity to attract a broad spectrum of users. Finally, a resting hangout space is extremely effective for this age group, as they love to socialise.

Designing for the very fit

Very fit people can typically get a good workout out of most solutions, but focusing on Street Workout equipment is an obvious choice. Emphasise more challenging items such as high pull-up bars, parallel bars, and high step benches. The example shown here combines different elements into an inspiring landscape that fuels exercise creativity.

Designing for the average adult

The equipment should accommodate all body types and genders equally when catering for average adults who exercise for health, fitness, or general appearance. Outdoor fitness sites designed in the past were often perceived as intimidating to many users as it was challenging to figure out what to do. Therefore, cardio and selectorised strength training equipment should be key choices for this audience. This is also known from the indoor fitness industry, where we see these items being popular among all types of users, including unfit and overweight people. Street Workout equipment can be an excellent addition that provides variety and dynamic exercise opportunities. Below is an excellent example of a fitness space for average health-seeking adults. The site includes strength training, cardio equipment, and functional training. This particular combination of equipment will be popular with various users.

Designing inclusive fitness spaces

Inclusive fitness involves designing spaces everyone uses, regardless of gender, age, body weight, fitness, or degree of cognitive/physical challenge. This also involves having extra concern for people with disabilities, such as people depending on a mobility device, people with reduced eyesight, amputees, etc. You can read more about inclusive fitness here.

Designing for Seniors

Outdoor fitness spaces for seniors should enable training for fall prevention, balance and moblity. Also consider strength machines, and easy-to-use cardio equipment like bikes, arm bikes, and elliptical trainers that have adjustable resistance for ease-of-use. For younger seniors, the focus should be on strength and cardio, whereas for older seniors, balance and fall prevention is top priority. The example shown here can be considered the gold standard for an outdoor senior fitness site as it includes all the important exercise modalities. The concept is strongly supported by research findings and will significantly enrich a users' quality of life and life span with continued use.

Designing for the whole family

The concept of spaces for the whole family is becoming increasingly popular. The idea is to create a space where parents can do a workout while the kids are on the playground, ensuring the areas are visually connected. It is also essential to include social space as it cannot be assumed that all family members will be active for the same time span. The bigger the site is, the more quality it will have as a destination site. Expanding options for small kids, teenagers, and seniors will broaden the appeal for all family members. Check out our fitness packages for best practice outdoor gyms and inspiration.

Summary:

When designing outdoor fitness spaces for various user types, consider the following:

  • For young and fit individuals, incorporate bodyweight exercises, challenges, and an element of play.

  • For teenagers, create sites inspired by indoor fitness centres mixed with MUGAs and some Street Workout.

  • For average health-seeking adults, focus on accommodating all body types, more strength options, and non-intimidating equipment like cardio machines.

  • For seniors, prioritise equipment that trains for fall prevention, mobility, and accessible strength and cardio equipment.

  • Mix play with cardio, strength, and social space for family sites.

  • For inclusive fitness, make sure to include specific items for seniors and people with disabilities.

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