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Everything you need to know before installing an outdoor gym at your school

An outdoor gym can transform activity levels in your school and help achieve the CMO recommendations that children should be active for a minimum 60 minutes per day, with at least 30 minutes being provided at school. When thinking about an outdoor gym, there are a number of things to consider.

Planning your outdoor gym

To ensure you end up with a gym that really meets your needs, the first stage is planning. Here are the key questions you should ask yourself or your team of decision makers.

Location

As you’d expect, it is incredibly important to consider where and how your gym will be situated.  Children love to play on the equipment and encouraging them to do so during break times as well as during PE is fantastic opportunity to keep them more active. Consider where you install the gym for maximum use and ease of monitoring by staff.

Positioning

The gym can be installed as a group of pieces or in a linear formation, for example, along the edge of a playing field. Both options have their benefits, but this may offer you options when considering location. The number of gym pieces can be adjusted depending on the size of the area available.

Surfacing

There is no requirement for safety surfacing, generally this is added purely for aesthetic reasons to protect high footfall areas. Fresh Air Fitness can install equipment into most existing surfaces e.g. grass, tarmac, existing wet pour. 

       If you plan to install your gym into grass, we would highly recommend installing ‘grass mats’.  These black rubber mesh mats are embedded into the ground, allowing the grass to grow through them. They are tough enough to allow a lawn mower to run over them, protect children from falls and prevent ‘bald spots’ forming in the grass. This popular option is also our most cost effective.

      We also offer a variety of surfacing solutions for your gym if you wish to include this. Other surfacing options are rubber mulch, tarmac, wet pour or artificial grass.

Handy to know - the floor must be reasonably level and it can be installed into gently sloping areas.

Equipment selection

Our range of Children’s outdoor gym equipment has been designed and built specifically for primary school aged children. Every product in the range offers various physical benefits to children, they are all easy to use, highly sociable and a huge amount of fun.

So where do you start?!

      Cardio

We have gym equipment that focuses on building Cardio fitness. These will elevate the heart rate and help to burn fat, while building muscular strength, stamina and tone.  We would recommend focusing on these pieces in your gym, not only for the obvious health benefits but also because they are so dynamic and fun to use. Children will rapidly improve fitness levels while using them and have lots of enjoyment in the process.

      Flexibility, co-ordination and balance

We also have outdoor gym equipment that focus on the development of flexibility, coordination and balance. These are excellent to warm the body up and down before and after a PE lesson.  Some also build communication between the two sides of the brain, crucial for language development.

      Strength

      We are very careful to make sure our range provides appropriate strength exercises which are suitable for children, for instance the seated leg press, and strength can also be improved using our all body        pieces, namely the Rider and Elliptical Cross Trainer.

You can also choose between single pieces, for 1 user, and multi-user versions, for 2 people or more.

       Single user equipment

Suitable for one user at a time, allowing a child to work at their own pace and independently. These offer cost-effective and space saving solution.

       Multi user equipment

We have numerous pieces of multi user equipment, suitable for 2, 3 or 4 children consecutively. The multi pieces provide a gym that can be more sociable and offer more value for money. They encourage socialising, competition and encouragement between the children.

Space

Safety is paramount when installing and using a Fresh Air Fitness gym. We recommend a distance of 1.5m between each piece of equipment, to enable children to use the equipment safely.  So, once you have a clearer idea of which pieces you would like to have in your gym, we can work with you to create a plan drawing.

Access

During installation, we’ll need to gain access to the site right up to where the gym is being installed, ideally with a van.  This may mean driving onto a field, it will certainly mean our team will need to carry the equipment to the correct location and will need adequate space to do this safely.

Financing your gym

If you require support in financing your outdoor gym facility, we could help you.

Funding

We can offer you a dedicated funding expert to help you try to secure grant funding for your gym project. They have a wealth of experience in securing funding for primary schools, many up to the value of £10,000.

Sports Premium

Hundreds of primary schools have already used some or all their sports premium to install an Outdoor Gym facility.

PTA

We have also worked with school PTA’s who have fundraised for a gym

Teacher support

To support your teaching staff to introduce your gym into the PE curriculum seamlessly, we supply lesson plans and user guides.

User guides

These handy booklets provide all the information you need, product by product, to use each piece of equipment safely. It includes warm up and cool down ideas and different ways in which you can use each piece of equipment to get maximum benefit.

PE Lesson plans

The lesson plan has been carefully developed for children to develop their fitness and technique over a 6-week period.

Each week the children will be encouraged to use the equipment in a slightly different way, building technique while developing fitness.  Teachers can track the progress and development of every child in your school.

YouTube

We also have lots of videos on our Fresh Air Fitness YouTube channel which demonstrate how to use the equipment. We also have a mobile app on the Apple Store and Google Play which will give you direct access to the videos.

In addition, there are also instructional signs on every piece of equipment to guide the teacher and user.

Using the outdoor gym

So once the gym is installed, it makes perfect sense to ensure the children are able use it as often as possible.

Allowing them to use the outdoor gyms during breaktimes and lunch times will mean they are getting more exercise. It will also be a fantastic way of getting children communicating,

After school clubs

Use this great facility to run an afterschool gym club. Kicking off with a warm up of traditional team games, running, jumping, throwing, catching etc. children could them move onto circuit training, helping children to become physically confident whatever their ability.

Warm-ups

Your outdoor gym will provide the ideal place for warming up before a range of other activities, they can stretch out and warm up muscles before matches and tournaments, even sports day.

Sports day

Use the various stations for competitive sport, e.g. how many swings, steps, presses can they do in 1 minute?

SEN activities

Our gyms provide a place for sensory breaks during lesson times, allowing young people to take a few minutes out of a lesson to get some fresh air, exercise and return to lessons focussed again.

If you have any questions relating to an outdoor gym installation, our team of specialists would be happy to answer them for you.  Simply call 01483 608860 or email us sales@freshairfitness.co.uk

 

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