You know the outdoor ‘gyms’ that councils the country (and world) over have been installing in parks in recent years? They’re often a rather uniform shade of grey, though you may have encountered a few in eye-catching colours.
While all good and well in the intention behind their installation, it seems that, as with so many things in the world of fitness, good intentions are not enough. Members of the park-going public, apparently are just not making use of these park gyms, according to research from Edith Cowan University in WA. Perhaps the inactivity on these pieces of equipment is symbolic of a wider malaise among the public when it comes to physical activity.
A survey of 400 park users in Perth found that over half (55.7%) had never used it, 21% rarely do, and only 11% claimed to use it regularly.
It might be expected that many people would have no interest in exercising, even if the means to do so is being spoon fed to them in parks at no cost (other than in their council rates). Heck, as fitness professionals we know full well that most people can’t be easily cajoled into working up a sweat. Indeed, according to the researchers ‘Those who weren’t keen said they didn’t see the point of the equipment, thought it was dirty, didn’t like exercise or went to a gym.’
However, the researchers did find that a certain percentage of people that hadn’t previously used the equipment were interested in doing so – but weren’t confident to do so. This is where it gets interesting for personal trainers.
Dr Ruth Sibson from Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) School of Business and Law said ‘More than half of those who hadn’t used the equipment were open to the idea, which suggests that if councils are going to have this type of equipment, they need additional resources around them.’
‘Several cities in the US have started organising classes and having instructors available to attract new users, and this is proving very successful.’
‘Having the equipment is positive, but we have to ask how we can make these exercise stations better and get people more engaged.’
Instructors? Classes? Sounds like a job for a fitness professional.
So why not check out your local parks and see if there are some underused park gyms sitting idle, just waiting for the loving touch of a PT with the know-how to guide the public towards a more physically active life, and then approach your local council with a proposal for them to use your services.
Indeed, the current desire to increase activity among members of the tax paying public (or, rather, their offspring) is evident, with the NSW Government recently launching its $100 Active Kids voucher incentives to get more children involved in sports and physical activities.
Whether you propose delivering a paid service (paid by the council, but free to participants), or opt to offer your services as an unpaid community-minded gesture, there seems to be an opportunity here for those looking to reach the untapped market of non-exercisers.
Whichever option you chose, it seems a sure-fire way of presenting your services to a new market, putting you front of mind for prospective new private clients in 2018.