Outdoor gyms – A trend that sweeps SA
Outdoor exercising is an expanding concept for the South African health and fitness market, with outdoor gyms providing an opportunity for communities to build cohesion, get fit and help to curb crime amongst the youth. The equipment is designed for all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced, and its colourful and vibrant appearance is not intimidating like that found indoors in a conventional gym.
Outdoor fitness zones offer a free alternative to gym memberships and many are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, users benefit from the fresh air and relaxation that comes from spending time in a park. National Health Director Precious Matsoso has stated that the outdoor gyms will go a long way in helping to prevent the illnesses and health problems that develop as a result of poor diet and lack of exercise in our communities.
In October 2011, World Outdoor Fitness installed the first outdoor gym in South Africa at the OR Tambo Environmental and Narrative Centre on behalf of the Ekurhuleni Municipality. Residents of the surrounding area are now using the gym daily and this is driving the community to lead a healthier lifestyle, according to Sarit Qwabe, marketing director of WOF. She adds that the outdoor gym is cost effective, eco-friendly, does not require electricity and there is no maintenance once installed. It is also a ‘green’ product made from recycled materials.
Since the OR Tambo installation, numerous units of outdoor equipment have been installed around South Africa, helping municipalities contribute to their residents’ quality of life by increasing their activity levels. In May 2103, the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula and the City of Cape Town handed over an outdoor gym to the Rocklands community of Mitchell’s Plain. This was an inter-governmental project by local, provincial and national government which has fostered community life in general, and transformed the piece of land into an active, well-used space.
From the outset, Mitchell’s Plain residents were involved in site preparation and installation of the equipment, and this strategy helped the SRSA and the City of Cape Town achieve the following objectives:
*transfer knowledge, skills and the importance of the outdoor gym to the community;
*having the community take ownership of the project and becoming guardians of the equipment;
*creating team work and unity; and
*providing temporary employment for the duration of the installation.
The equipment in Mitchell’s Plain is made of galvanized steel to prevent it from eroding and the pipe-into-pipe technology used to install the equipment into concrete footing underground, as appose to bolting on concrete slabs, also means it is more difficult to dismantle and remove preventing vandalism to some extent. It is also durable and able to resist wear and tear caused by exposure to the elements and adverse weather conditions.
World Outdoor Fitness (WOF) is a company specializing in the design, production and installation of outdoor fitness equipment to help communities to lead healthier lifestyles. At the same time, it has helped municipalities and local governments bring service delivery to these communities. WOF is a leading provider of outdoor fitness equipment to public and private parks, schools, health industries and the military.
Pendulum unit installed in KZN