Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Out and Active

The nature of parks is changing: the equipment that is. Swings, slides, and monkey bars for the kids may now sit alongside elliptical trainers, leg-press, or quad machines for the teens and adults.

Outdoor gyms have been a phenomenon in Europe for about 15 years. But in the past three years they are growing at "an incredible rate" in Canada and elsewhere.

"The gym-makers and advocates say adding fitness equipment to green space is a way to encourage people to live healthier, more active lives – without the high cost of gym memberships. A mom who is watching her children play may jump on an elliptical machine rather than sit on a bench, the thinking goes. And people with no interest in the sweaty atmosphere of a weight room may prefer to get pumped up in the fresh air."

Community groups like the new trend. "It’s just as important to get people out as it is to get them pumped up. If a leg press machine at a park gets you to a park, then all the better, regardless of how tough the exercise might be."

One organizer said, “We need more people with excuses to be outdoors."

For example, see what several companies have in outdoor fitness equipment.