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Outdoor Bike and Elliptical Cross Trainer, Fresh Air Fitness, Birmingham and Solihull MHT NHS

Hillis Lodge, Mental Health Trust install a new outdoor gym for patients and staff


"The staff have found the new outdoor gym equipment very beneficial for both the patients and themselves and the patients have really enjoyed using the equipment"

Outdoor Combination Chest Press and Pull Down Challenger, Fresh Air Fitness, Birmingham and Solihull MHT NHS

The Background

Hillis Lodge is part of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust for those people living in Birmingham and Solihull who are experiencing mental health problems. Hollis Lodge provides assessment, treatment and rehabilitation to service users with severe mental health problems who have committed a criminal offence or who have displayed seriously aggressive or threatening behaviour. Care is provided through secure inpatient units and specialist community teams. Patients range from age 18 to 65 and there are 14 beds on the site. Having witnessed the benefits of Fresh Air Fitness outdoor gyms in many other of the trusts sites, staff decided an outdoor gym was essential for their patients’ recuperation. The patients needed a place they could workout in. Having an outdoor gym would prevent using space inside the building, but not only that, working-out in the fresh air would make the results even more beneficial to the patients.

The Challenge

Hollis Lodge is situated within a secure perimeter in beautiful grounds. The modern building is single story and designed to feel homely and unintimidating. The gym needed to sit neatly in a specific area where space was limited. Because the trust takes many patients of all fitness abilities, staff wanted to ensure that the gym would cater for all. They also wanted to ensure the gym echoed the welcoming feeling of the rest of the site.

Our Solution

A selection of 3 pieces from our strength and cardio range were installed into Hillis Lodge on a surface of wet pour. The products selected, a Combi: Pull Down and Chest Press. This double, strength building piece that works the whole of the upper body. An Elliptical Cross Trainer, which will really elevate the heart rate and build cardio fitness. Exercises that involve cross movement, e.g. the Elliptical Cross Trainer, are particularly good for patients suffering PTSD. And finally, a bicycle, to build flexibility, balance and cardio fitness. Wet pour was used beneath each piece of equipment. Staff chose a plain black flooring with green accents, ensuring the gym was in-keeping with the surrounding space and giving it a calm, unintimidating feel.

More activities have been planned for the spring and summer months to incorporate using the equipment. Patients are enjoying these sessions and even using them for unplanned activity too.


Communication was good throughout. Fresh Air Fitness visited the site before the installation to ensure the area the gym would be installed into was suitable and explained exactly what they would be doing on the day


The staff have found the new outdoor gym very beneficial for both the patients and themselves and the patients have really enjoyed using the equipment.


The Benefit

  • The gym can be used by 4 patients at any one time, each working at their own pace.
  • Staff at the site have planned sessions for the patients, to ensure they use the new gym regularly. After a successful start, more will follow.
  • Using the gym is already helping the patients hugely. Key benefits include the reduction of anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD and more....
  • Releasing feel-good chemicals ‘endorphins’ in the brain and body that improve your mood and make you more relaxed. Preventing and reducing depression.
  • Relieving stress, improving memory, helping sleep quality and boosting overall mood.
  • Helps to build and maintain a strong and healthy body, reducing weight related illnesses, often related to poor mental health
  • Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.
  • Exercise also increases blood circulation in the brain, which is linked to improvements in mood and attention, helping you to feel mentally sharper and more able to deal with tasks at hand.
  • Spending as little as 20 minutes a day exercising can increase your overall productivity, and decrease energy wasted from mental stress.
  • Exercise can also improve mental health and function in the following ways: Frustration tolerance, reduced tension, better sleep and a stronger immune system.

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