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Lady using outdoor gyms for senior fitness

Outdoor gyms for 'Extra Care Village' a huge hit!

HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS

The outdoor gym needed to provide this community with a place to exercise regularly. Close to their home for easy access. This needed to be simple to use, low impact for joints and fun, to ensure the community were motivated to use it regularly

Older people using outdoor gyms for senior fitness

Outdoor Gym core to Healthy Cities

2013 marked the launch of an ambitious £650 million scheme to transform Pendleton in Salford, in which the community of Pendleton had a vision. They wanted to regenerate the entire landscape of their town to create a place that the residence were proud of and which would allow them to live happier, healthier lives for generations to come.

Challenge

The Extra Care Village was designed to meet the needs of this older community. Included was an area where residents could live in their own familiar surroundings for as long as possible, offering activities and amenities to reduce social isolation and help retain independence for as long as possible. Of which a critical aspect was regular physical activity. The outdoor gym needed to provide this community with a place to exercise regularly. Close to their home for easy access. This needed to be simple to use, low impact for joints and fun, to ensure the community were motivated to use it regularly. But more, it needed to be a hub for the community, a place for meeting friends, making new friends and for running regular classes. As the gyms are accessible to all members of the public, including those who live outside of the extra care village, every piece of equipment needed to be vandal proof. The project was designed to put the residents into the driving seat, allowing them to be involved in procurement and selection processes. Involving so many voices inevitably slowed elements of the process down and so to meet deadlines it was critical that Fresh Air Fitness provided their service, designs, documentation etc. as efficiently as possible.

The community really understood how essential; exercise, fresh air and socialisation were to health and wellbeing. As such re-invigorating parks and green spaces, adding sports and exercise facilities were key to their vision of the city. Being a large inner-city area of Salford, Pendleton has a large population with a vast range of ages. The ageing population was critical to the success of this project as the regeneration process involved the homes of many older people, many of whom had lived in the area all their lives.

Solution

The Extra Care Village was a substantial size including regeneration of existing homes and blocks as well as 60 new homes. To enable the entire community to access the outdoor gym easily, 2 separate gyms were installed close to the 2 largest blocks in the village. Providing access to all, close to their homes.

Both gyms included the same equipment, made up of our most popular products. Each piece was low impact for joints and very simple to use, but they all worked different muscle groups to keep the entire body mobile and strong. Labels on the product give clear instructions on the safe use of the equipment and recommended workout times. Printed in black and white, they also aid the visually impaired. Several pieces were double pieces from the range, meaning 2 adults could work out together, side by side, encouraging further enjoyment and social interaction. The gyms included; arm & pedal bike, seated leg press, double air walker, self-weighted rower, elliptical x trainer, twist & step As well as having access to the outdoor gyms any day or time of the week, formal weekly activity sessions were set up and run by the Health Improvement Service. This helped the community to feel confident about the equipment they were using and to develop workout plans suitable for their personal needs. As well as the physical benefits of these classes, they also provided people with the opportunity to meet new faces, make new friends and companions. Every product in our range has been development with strong vandal resistant construction.

Result

This unique partnership between Together Housing Group, Salford City Council and Keepmoat has changed the Salford landscape forever. Large scale regeneration has created a fully thriving community and a neighbourhood of choice where people have a real pride in where they live.

The Extra Care Village has provided the older population with the opportunity to retain their independence, improve longevity and quality of life. The outdoor gyms are critical to this. They were installed on time to spec and the supporting classes have enabled the residents to start using the equipment to its full potential. Using their gyms regularly is promoting endurance, strength, balance and mobility. The regular exercise will also help to ensure lower levels of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The residents can enjoy better general health and vitality, a lower risk of falling, better cognitive functioning and reduced levels of depression and other mental health issues.

This award-winning project wasn’t just about regenerating a large part of Salford; it was about involving the community to help stitch Pendelton back together and the intrinsic nature of the outdoor gym to the project highlights its widespread appeal. The concept of ‘Ideal Living’ could only be achieved with the wholehearted belief in the place, in the people and how it could be.

Your team have done a great job. The area was left clean and tidy. This finished product looks great! Thank You

IAN COWEN, PROJECT MANAGER

The refurbishment project has been a fantastic success and tenants now have modern, secure and energy efficient homes to live in. The landscape has changed forever and we’re delighted to have the achievements of the partnership recognised.

TOM MISKELL OBE, CHAIRMAN OF PENDLETON TOGETHER OPERATING LIMITED

We are not aware of any other housing scheme that has involved residents in procurement to the extent that the residents of Pendleton have been involved.

KEVIN FARRELL, AN INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY ADVISOR FROM TPAS (TENANT PARTICIPATION ADVISORY SERVICE)

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