Fresh Air Fitness has turned a relatively unused playing field at Greenhill Primary School into a sate-of-the-art 34-user outdoor fitness area that can accommodate entire class sizes.
The school’s vision was to support all children to develop a love of sport, regardless of ability. Head of PE, Sharon Gates, drove the project and saw the opportunities of an outdoor gym. She fully understood the benefits of physical activity, and a gym would make a perfect solution for encouraging those children that are less gifted at conventional school sports such as football, netball, etc to get active and enjoy PE lessons.
To realise the school's vision, the equipment chosen needed to challenge the most athletic, while driving confidence and fun in those who least enjoyed prescribed physical activity.
The field was a large area of land and the school wanted to ensure other forms of sport could also be played there, and so the layout was important to achieve the full fitness programme planned by the school.
A variety of individual and multi-user pieces of outdoor gym equipment were selected for the site. Single-user pieces allow children to set their own pace and, while concentrating on their own movement, allow those less engaged in sport to enjoy the equipment without feeling too slow or intimidated. Those athletic children could set their own pace, moving faster, building strength and fitness, while those who need to build fitness levels could do so gradually, recording and improving personal results without facing the embarrassment of coming last or being the slowest.
The Children’s Elliptical Cross Trainers (ECT) and Children’s Rider, were selected as they offer two forms of exercise. The ECT is a cardio piece, raising the heart rate, getting the whole body moving. The Rider focuses on control, building strength and endurance in the upper body and thighs.
The Children’s Cardio Combi can be used by 4 children at once and the various stations offer a different kind of movement, including running or walking in the air and swinging side to side, building strength, fitness and agility in the body.
A Children’s Seated Leg Press, a double piece, builds strength in the leg muscles, facing each other make the activity fun for the children.
Finally, a Hip Twister is a great piece of equipment to warm up on and develop flexibility before and after a PE lesson.
The outdoor gym was positioned along two sides of the field, leaving a vast area in the centre of the field for the children to play all kinds of other sports.
“Brilliant, absolutely great, can’t wait for the kids to be able to use it. It will be a massive benefit to PE lessons. As with most schools, we have children who love sport, they are talented and naturally gifted, but we also have children who don’t enjoy sport, they feel intimidated, uncomfortable. Unfortunately it we can’t address the problem at this age, many will feel the same about sport throughout life. Giving children the opportunity to work-out on this equipment, at their own pace, having fun is wonderful. I can’t wait to see them blossom in the new school year.”
– Sharon Gates, Head of PE