KOMPAN Fitness Institute

Designing Outdoor Fitness Spaces for Different Types of Users

Create 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 fitness spaces that are attractive, effective, and cater to various types of users is vital. User types can roughly be characterized by age, gender, skill level and, specific disabilities or any combination hereof.

The ideal fitness site can be very different for the different user types, and knowing the characteristics 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 significantly younger users.

  2. Obstacle courses. Develops motor skills and provides fun challenges.

  3. Street Workout – also referred to as callisthenics 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 is fun and engages multiple muscle groups in each exercise, often incorporating dynamic equipment like kettlebells and suspension trainers.

  5. Strength training machines that 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 young individuals

Outdoor fitness spaces for young individuals should ideally include a mix of Street Workout and play. Obstacle courses can also be a good addition as they are inherently playful and challenging. Combining fitness equipment with playground equipment makes it possible to create "fitness sites" appealing to users ages eight and upwards. A coherent activity space requires play equipment focusing on children ages 8-12. 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 the target group is teenagers, it can be pretty effective to include strength and cardio equipment known from indoor fitness centres. We know 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 skills. Including a game arena and some Street Workout equipment can provide diversity to attract a broad spectrum of users. Finally, a social hangout space is extremely important for this age group.

Designing for the very fit

Very fit people can typically get a good workout out of most solutions, but focus on Street Workout equipment is an obvious choice. It is a good idea to 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 because it was challenging to figure out what to do. Therefore, cardio and selectorised strength training equipment should be key choices in this category. 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 but adds high and low items. 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.

Inclusive Fitness

Inclusive fitness involves designing spaces everyone uses, regardless of gender, age, body weight, fitness, or cognitive abilities. 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 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.

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 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 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.

  • 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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