KOMPAN Fitness Institute

Designing outdoor fitness spaces for different types of users

An aerial view of a playground and outdoor fitness site in a park.

Create the ideal outdoor fitness site

Outdoor fitness has evolved tremendously over the past decade. Today, it is possible to create outdoor fitness sites that can compete with indoor gyms, but to do so, it is vital to ensure these outdoor spaces are attractive, effective, and cater to various types of users.

However, the concept of an ideal fitness site can vary depending on the user type, roughly characterized by age, gender, skill level, and specific disabilities or any combination hereof. Therefore, knowing the characteristics of the expected users is extremely important when choosing the right equipment and site design.

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Different categories of equipment:

The images below show the main equipment categories to consider when creating outdoor fitness spaces. These different categories are the building blocks we will refer to when discussing user-specific designs.

Different categories of equipment:

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  1. Multi-use game arenas – act as a great supplement to fitness sites, providing social and play opportunities with a special appeal to younger users.

  2. Obstacle courses – help to develop balance, coordination, stamina, and motor skills as well as provide fun challenges for different user groups.

  3. Street workout equipment – also referred to as calisthenics or bodyweight equipment, requires some strength and skill, making it well-suited for young and fit individuals.

  4. Functional training stations – engage multiple muscle groups within each exercise by incorporating dynamic equipment like kettlebells and suspension trainers.

  5. Strength training machines – are easily adjustable and user-friendly, allowing users to select their desired weight across machines, including leg press, lat pull-down, and chest press.

  6. Cardio equipment – cater to a wide range of user types and include varied equipment such as ellipticals, bikes, arm bikes, and step benches.

  7. Senior and rehabilitation equipment – specialised workout equipment, focused on balance, coordination, mobility, and fall prevention.

Let's Move

Designing for young individuals

Outdoor fitness spaces for young individuals should ideally include a mix of street workout and play. Obstacle courses can be a great solution as they are inherently playful and challenging. To create an all-encompassing activity space, you should additionally consider combining fitness equipment with playground equipment designed for children ages 8-12. Incorporating play equipment makes it possible to create "fitness sites" that appeal to users ages 8 and upwards. Keep in mind, a minor separation between play and fitness is often required, depending on the equipment's age specifications, as seen in the illustration below.

An artist's rendering of a playground in front of a building

Designing for teenagers

If the target group is teenagers, it can be effective to include equipment you'd typically find at an indoor gym such as strength and cardio equipment. Teenagers are often excluded from indoor gyms without an adult over the age of 18, so incorporating these types of equipment is great as fitness is one of the most popular activities for this age group. Additionally, strength and cardio equipment is adjustable, so it's inclusive for those who don't have as much experience working out. To attract an even broader spectrum of users and diversity your space further, consider including a multi-use game arena and some street workout equipment. Finally, a social hangout space is crucial for this age group.

A 3d rendering of a park with a gym area

Designing for the very fit

Very fit people can typically get a good workout from most solutions, but focusing on street workout equipment is an obvious choice as these pieces rely on utilizing one's own body weight. For this group, it's a good idea to include more challenging street workout equipment such as high pull-up bars, parallel bars, and high-step benches. The example shown here combines different elements into an inspiring fitness landscape that fuels exercise creativity. You can learn more about designing an obstacle course for adults here.

A 3d image of a cross - training area

Designing for the average adult

When catering to average adults that exercise for general health or overall appearance, the chosen equipment should equally accommodate all body types and genders. Additionally, the fitness site should include equipment that is intuitive and easy to use like cardio and strength training equipment. This equipment is popular amongst all types of users as it is perceived as less intimidating. Therefore, including these items in the design of your outdoor fitness site can encourage various users to visit and utilize the space. To provide more variety, street workout equipment can be an excellent addition for users that are looking to take their workout up a notch. Below is an excellent example of a fitness space for average health-seeking adults. The site includes strength training, cardio equipment, and functional training. Utilizing this particular combination of equipment will ensure your site is popular with various users.

An aerial view of a park with a group of people working out

Inclusive fitness

Inclusive fitness involves designing spaces everyone uses, regardless of gender, age, body weight, fitness, or cognitive abilities. This also involves taking extra steps to accommodate 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.

A group of people using exercise equipment in a park

Designing for seniors

Outdoor fitness spaces for seniors should prioritise fall prevention, balance, mobility equipment, strength machines, and easy-to-use cardio equipment like bikes, arm bikes, and elliptical trainers. For younger seniors, the focus should be on strength and cardio, whereas for older seniors, more focus should be on balance and fall prevention. 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 science and will significantly impact the users' quality of life and life span. Learn more about designing a functional park for seniors.

An artist's rendering of a gym in a city

Designing for the whole family

The concept of spaces for the whole family is becoming increasingly popular. The basic idea is to create a space where parents can do fitness 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 amount of time. The bigger the site is, the more likely it will be seen 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.

An aerial view of a playground and outdoor gym in a park


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 game arenas and some street workout.

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

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

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

  • For family sites, mix play with cardio, strength, and social space.

Revolutionize your outdoor fitness space!

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