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Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Outdoor Fitness Equipment in public settings has been trending for several years now. With gym memberships getting more expensive and incidents of diabetes continuing to rise, owners and operators are responding to the need by offering their communities a free alternative way to health and wellness.

The health benefits of exercising, building lean muscle, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and encouraging socialization are obvious, and adding the benefits of being outdoors while exercising enhances overall mental and physical well being as well.

Outdoor Fitness Equipment Courses are being added to all kinds of settings where people congregate, including public parks, hotels, multi-family housing, universities, senior centers, and more. The benefits are obvious: exercising outdoors increases enjoyment of exercise, is less intimidating to users than going to a gym, and actually increases the frequency and length of time users exercise.

This article will focus on considerations for planning and designing your new Outdoor Fitness Course. To keep it simple we have divided these considerations into 3 areas:

  1. The location of your Outdoor Fitness Equipment

  2. The pieces of equipment, configuration, and size of space that is best for your situation

  3. The spacing between pieces and the need for safety surfacing with the equipment

1. The location of your Outdoor Equipment Course

We've divided this into 3 types of locations. First, Fitness Parks which can be a destination fitness park or a Fitness Station configuration as an added amenity to a Public Park.

Next, Fitness Trail links which can include events along a trail or through a public park to link communities.

And finally, playground site lines as a cluster of fitness equipment near a public park that parents and caregivers can use while their children are playing on the playground.

(Reta Huskey, Meridian, ID)

2. The pieces of equipment, configuration, and size of space that is best for your situation Choosing the specific pieces of equipment for your park may be easy if you’re a fitness buff and frequent the gym, but for most folks some guidance would be helpful. Relying on the professional Creative Play Designer's at LuckyDog Recreation, who has been trained by ActionFit™ to help you create the perfect configuration package for your Fitness Park, is the answer. To ensure a well-rounded workout we suggest that you include one of each type of fitness: aerobic, muscle, core, flexibility, and balance.

For convenience, configuration packages are divided into three categories and even split into smaller categories after that. The big three configuration considerations are Performance Courses, Training Courses, and Endurance Courses. Other considerations to help you uncover your ideal Fitness Park include: how much space you have, what kind of maintenance will your park take and how will you handle that, and will the pieces you select require safety surfacing.

Check out the catalog online to see a variety of packages and equipment ideas for each of them. CLICK FOR CATALOG

3. The spacing between pieces and the need for safety surfacing with the equipment Regarding spacing between equipment and how to know when safety surfacing is required, just like everything else, there’s an ASTM Standard for this, F3101-15 Standard Specification for Unsupervised Public Use Outdoor Fitness Equipment. It’s important, first and foremost, to note that exercise equipment, unlike playground equipment, is designed for users 13 years and older. Therefore, the location and the specific pieces of equipment should be selected for the age group the outdoor fitness equipment is intended to serve. Then you are ready to explore required space for the overall configuration, spacing between pieces, and whether or not the pieces of equipment you have selected require an impact attenuating base or safety surfacing.

The space between pieces is defined by the term ‘training envelope’ which will determine the use zone (think playgrounds) in the end. According to ASTM F3101-15, the training envelope is the max space in which the user and machine components traverse when the machine is operated in accordance with the instructions.

Additionally, the clearance zone is the area that surrounds the training envelope and the equipment. The training envelopes of the equipment can’t overlap, however, the clearance zone can overlap.

The fall height and surfacing vary with the equipment you choose for your park, but for easy figuring consider this: surfacing is required for the equipment if the user’s feet come off the ground. If you would like to know the certain fall heights of the equipment, feel free to ask your Creative Play Designer.

To delve deeper into the topic of ASTM compliance, ActionFit™ has created a short presentation that explains the recommendations for Outdoor Fitness Standards including training envelopes and clearance zones for many ActionFit™ equipment pieces.

We hope this short article has sparked your interest in making an investment in your community by offering an alternative way to health and wellness with an outdoor Fitness Park. Call LuckyDog Recreation today.

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