Outdoor training: think outside the park

Photo: Glen Eira City Council

Looking for a new venue for your outdoor training sessions? Why not investigate whether there are any outdoor gyms in a park near you. China was the first country to embrace the outdoor gym in the 1990s, and since then, many other countries – including Australia – have followed their lead. The gyms are often located near playgrounds, which encourage parents to use them while their kids play. What a perfect place to run some morning or weekend PT sessions! Outdoor fitness equipment generally reflects machines found in commercial gyms are designed so you can modify your level of effort without needing to change any settings.

Training your clients outdoors doesn’t just improve their physical fitness; there are the added mental health benefits that come from being outdoors compared to working out in a studio or gym. Studies have shown that exercising outdoors reduces blood pressure and stress levels an can improve sleep quality.

A recent study by Edith Cowan University found that outdoor gyms are chronically underused. This may be bad news for the local councils that have implemented them, but great news for trainers who are looking to change up their sessions, or are trying to reach new markets – such as mums.

If you’re planning to run outdoor sessions, either using outdoor gyms or parkland, make sure you have the relevant permit from your local council. Some trainers knowingly ignore this and continue to run sessions without valid permits – this is absolutely not the way to go! As an industry, we must work with our local councils to protect the public by ensuring PTs are registered, certified and insured. Plus once you have your permit, it gives you exclusive access to your training area. The council may also ask you for your risk management strategy – this doesn’t have to be a complex exercise – the PAA template provides you with a simple guide.

As a PT who is looking for longevity and sustainability in the industry, keep looking out for new training opportunities. Using outdoor gyms may just be the point of difference you’re looking for.