As Covid-19 spreads across the UK again, you might be wondering how to keep fit without venturing into a gym. Well, we’ve got a solution for you: an outdoor gym. Not only is it much easier to socially distance outdoors, but you’ll still get a great workout. Here’s what you need to know.
Why are outdoor gyms popular?
Despite the unpredictable British weather, outdoor gyms are always popular. But what’s so great about them? Let’s take a look.
Since many outdoor gyms are in local parks, they’re usually free to use. Since we’re all trying to save money right now, this is a huge bonus.
Exercising outdoors has some unique health benefits. Studies show that outdoor exercise can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and generally make you feel good.
Yes, outdoor workouts can be tough! Why? Because you may be training on uneven surfaces, meaning your body works harder to stay stable. You’re also dealing with the elements like wind and rain, so even a gentle workout can feel more challenging.
Another surprise benefit? You could burn up to 20% more calories just by taking that workout outside.
What equipment is available?
Outdoor gym equipment needs to tick three boxes. It should be:
- Fixed to the ground
So while you won’t have the same treadmills, spin bikes or squat racks you find at a commercial gym, there’s some really great equipment for a fun workout. Here’s the five most common pieces of kit you’ll find outside:
- Chin-up or pull-up bars
- Resistance machines for upper body strength
- Some cardio equipment, like a fixed upright bike or rower
- A leg press for lower body workouts
- Space to use your own equipment, whether it’s resistance bands or free weights
Every outdoor gym is a little different, so you could try a few and see which one suits you best.
Are outdoor gyms open during the pandemic?
Some of them are. It just depends on where you live. Just like any communal area, outdoor gyms are subject to closure during local and national lockdowns, and the rules are changing all the time.
Our advice? Always check the local regulations before using one. You can find local and regional guidelines by visiting the gov.uk website and searching for your area.
Is it safe to use an outside gym during coronavirus?
Well, it’s all about how you define ‘safe’. You’re using communal equipment, so there’s always the chance you could be exposed to Covid-19. However, the science shows that you’re less likely to pick up coronavirus outdoors than indoors, so it’s probably less ‘risky’ than training at your local fitness club or CrossFit box.
The bottom line? It depends on what level of risk you’re comfortable with. If you’re bored exercising at home, and you’re not comfortable training indoors, outside gyms are the next best thing.
To make your workout even safer, always use hand sanitiser between pieces of equipment, keep a distance from others, and wipe down machines once you’re finished. You can always wear a face covering, too.
Is there an outdoor gym near me?
Ready to give outdoor gyms a go? To help you get started, here are some of the most popular outdoor gym franchises in the UK. The vast majority of these spaces should be free to use (meaning you won’t need to carry cash), but always double check before you make the trip.
Fresh Air Fitness
A leading outdoor equipment provider, Fresh Air Fitness runs multiple outdoor gyms across the UK.
The Great Outdoor Gym Company
TGO has literally hundreds of outdoor facilities around the country. Check out their app and find your nearest gym.
Sunshine Gym supplies outdoor fitness equipment to various green spaces around the UK. Take a look on their website and see if they’ve installed kit near you.
Fancy pushing your bodyweight workouts to the limit? You might want to give calisthenics a go. Check out Calisthenics Parks to discover your nearest outdoor setup.
If you can’t find a gym near you on these lists, check out your local council website for a list of park gyms and other outdoor workout spots nearby.
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