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Planning your outdoor gym: Everything you need to know

Fresh Air Fitness have installed outdoor gym equipment into more than 1,000 Primary School environments across the UK. Here we outline all the factors we think you should consider when planning a new outdoor gym project.

23rd March 2022

To ensure you end up with a gym that really meets your needs, planning is vital. Without this, it is difficult to assess the feasibility of the project and how much finance you will need. Here are the key questions you or your team of decision makers should consider:


What is the objective? As with any project, there needs to be an overriding objective, for example:

  • How many children do you want to provide activity opportunities for?
  • Do wish to enhance activity opportunities for KS2, KS1 or both groups? 
  • Do you want activities which appeal more to those that engage less in traditional sports?
  • Do you require accessible pieces for wheelchair users?
  • Will your gym be used during break-times as well as PE lessons?



Do you have enough space for your outdoor gym? The good news is that a gym can be fitted into a relatively small space and into most surfaces. In broad terms, there needs to be an allowance of 10 square metres per piece of equipment. We recommend a distance of 1.5metres 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.


Where would you like to install your gym? 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.


How would you like to position the gym? 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.


Would you like surfacing? There is no compliance 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 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. As important as the safety surface itself is to ensure that a suitable base is laid underneath the safety surface. We recommend a compacted stone base and, whilst more expensive in the short term, provides a hard wearing, permeable base layer.

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?!

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.

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.

      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, for example the Rider and Elliptical Cross Trainer.

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.

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.

Financing your gym

How will you finance the outdoor gym? If you require support in financing your outdoor gym facility, we could help you.


  • Grant 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 with the National Lottery Fund.

There are also plenty of other community funders or foundations which you could consider going to directly. Organisations involved in waste management and landfill often support local projects, e.g. W.R.E.N, Landfill Communities Fund, Veolia, Virodor.  There are often many other local funds and charities who may have funds available for such projects too.

  • School funding

Many primary schools have used some or all their sports premium to install an outdoor gym facility.  There may other funds available allocated by central or local authority to support an outdoor gym project. It is always worth asking whether any health and well-being discretionary funds are available.

  • PTA

We have also worked with hundred’s of school PTA’s who have fundraised for a gym through various events and supported them accordingly.

Teacher support

How will we get the most out of the new outdoor gym? If an outdoor gym is right for you, consideration should also be given to what support your teaching staff will be given to introduce your gym into the PE curriculum seamlessly.  Fresh Air Fitness supply a variety of lesson plans, user guides and even animations to help with this.

  • 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.

We also have lots of videos on our Fresh Air Fitness YouTube channel which demonstrate how to use the equipment, including a range of cartoon style animations for children to engage with. We 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 break times and lunch times will mean they are getting more exercise. It will also be a fantastic way of getting children communicating,

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, improving fitness, strength, burnig calories and developing balance, co-ordination and flexibility.  This is support them 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

As well as the physical benefits gained during PE and break times, our gyms also 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 friendly team of specialists would be happy to answer them for you.  Simply call 01483 608860 or email us

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