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Design Your Outdoor Fitness Park like an Indoor Commercial Gym

When it comes to designing an outdoor fitness park, there are many things to consider. Where will the park go? How will park be laid out? How much space can we use? What equipment should we purchase?

More often than not, the look of the finished park is given higher priority than the exercises offered and actual exercise value. When this is the case, it is likely your park will not be successful as it will not be functional.

The best way to have a successful outdoor fitness park is to design your park as if you were designing and building an indoor fitness center or commercial gym.

Here’s Why

When an indoor fitness center or commercial gym is being designed, the main priority is offering the most exercises and the best exercise value for the budget and space available. Obviously the look and design of these indoor facilities is important, but equipment comes first. This should be how you think about your outdoor park. Understand what space you have, then fill that space with the most exercises and best exercise value. Here are the main things to consider when planning your fitness park.

How People Exercise

This is a very important but often overlooked factor when designing an outdoor fitness park. The most common way people exercise is by doing their strength training all at once, then doing cardio or vise versa, with stretching at the start and end of their workout. Think about this when picking the equipment for your park and the equipment placement. Keep design and layout of your outdoor gym like that of an indoor gym. Users will feel more comfortable using the equipment and will continue to come back.

Space and Layout

When looking at the design and layout of your fitness park, you first must find an appropriate space. A very popular option cities, towns and counties use is designing a fitness park to be integrated with an existing fitness trail. This is a great spot for a fitness park as many people will already be using these trails for walks, runs or bike rides. With this being said, there are often some critical design errors when using an existing or new trail.

A common trend is to spread equipment at intervals along the trail. This design is not effective as it disrupts how people typically workout. The design will also deter the people who just want to use the outdoor fitness equipment as they are forced to walk further into the trail to use each piece. You will also have higher project costs as you will need to pour multiple concrete footings or pads in multiple locations, as well as landscaping costs for each location.

The best placement for outdoor fitness equipment at a trail is beside the parking lot at the trailhead. This will benefit your park in a few ways.

  • All the equipment is clustered together
    Just like with indoor gyms, people that want to come and use the equipment will enjoy being able to move easily from exercise to exercise just as if the were working out indoors.
  • More secure/less vandalism
    Unfortunately vandalism is very common in parks. By placing your outdoor fitness equipment near the parking lot, this will typically mean it is placed in a well lit and more visible area. Equipment placed deep in a trail and out of site is more likely to be damaged or vandalised.
  • It will allow people to train how they would indoors
    If someone wanted to go for a bike ride then workout on the equipment, they can easily unload their bike, go for a ride, come back to their car to secure the bicycle, and then workout on the equipment.


The actual equipment choices also play a big role in the success of your outdoor fitness park. You should always pick equipment that has legitimate exercise value. Unfortunately, in the outdoor fitness equipment world there is a lot of equipment for sale that offers little to no exercise value. Purchasing equipment that has no exercise value or poor biomechanics is a waste of money and space. Users also run the risk of injuring themselves if the equipment has poor biomechanics.

We recommend using a personal trainer as a consultant, or have someone with a solid exercise/fitness background be part of the equipment selection staff. Again, think about this outdoor gym as if it were an indoor facility; find the best equipment, offering the most exercises and legitimate exercise value that fits your budget and your space.

Instructional Signage

One feature people love about indoor gyms is there are always staff on hand for help, and all equipment has instructional signage. Unfortunately, with an outdoor fitness park it is very hard to have staff supervision or personal trainers on site at all times. For this reason it is extremely important to have instructional signage for the exercise equipment.

As outdoor equipment looks different to what people are used to for indoor equipment, sourcing equipment with instructional signage is a must. You should also plan to do up a sign of your own that overviews the park, general instructions for using the equipment, and any warnings or rules of the park. Again, having a personal trainer as a consultant will be a great help with this process.

By following these steps, and thinking of your outdoor fitness park as an actual fitness facility, your park will be more functional, see more users and become a legitimate fitness option for your community.

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