Free gym equipment in park gets community active

Published Monday 30 June 2014

A free-to-use ‘Social Fitness Zone’ aiming to inspire fitness amongst local communities has opened in Welland Park in Market Harborough.

Working in partnership, Harborough District Council and outdoor play equipment specialists Proludic have devised an outdoor fitness offering for the whole community to use.

The aim is to reduce the financial burden on the NHS by providing a free, outdoor exercise zone, perfect for exercising together with friends and family and part of Active Together Harborough’s initiative to encourage more people to be more physically active to improve the health and well being of the community.

This social fitness zone provides an alternative to the exercise referral 12-week gym programmes offered by the Council to patients whose health condition(s) would benefit from being more physically active – the Active Lifestyle Programme.

The project was initiated after a local woman, who was coming to the end of an active lifestyle programme, was looking for a cheaper alternative to the gym to maintain a fitness routine. However, she found that the gym equipment in Welland Park was not clearly labelled and she failed to understand how to exercise using the equipment.

A ‘Social Fitness Zone’ equipment which has been funded and installed by Proludic, has clearly labelled gym equipment with exercise demonstrations, which can also be viewed on smart phones by simply scanning a special code displayed alongside the equipment.

There has already been a spike of interest from community groups including Leicestershire Support Workers, who work closely with families with complex needs, who often have no or little budget for fitness programmes.

Commenting on the facilities Cllr James Hallam, portfolio holder for health & communities at the district council said: "Lack of fitness is an issue facing the Harborough community, and this sort of investment is extremely welcome as we work together to bring fitness and health to the forefront of the community. It’s great to see the equipment having clear instructions and QR code technology for people to use. I expect to see a number of people of all ages and abilities using the equipment, and I am looking forward to seeing the positive health and social outcomes of the social fitness zone."

Also commenting on the newly launched Social Fitness Zone, managing director at Proludic, Michael Hoenigmann, commented, ‘Research we have done has shown that 69% of the population are totally reliant on parks for their physical exercise - from walking the dog to community fitness instructors, parks are where our nation gets its exercise.

"It has been great working with a council that is active in working towards increasing community fitness. I look forward to seeing the results of this Social Fitness Zone."