Local gyms have excellent benefits for the community. For example, working out alongside peers will boost morale even further than solo exercise will. However, whilst community fitness programmes are great for local pride, does the environmental impact of traditional gyms outweigh their benefits? Sunshine Gym investigates…
Gyms and the Environment
There are countless articles about the steps gym managers and users ought to take to reduce their impact on the environment. However, this advice very often involves suggestions which arguably don’t go far enough to solve the problem.
For example, you could encourage gym managers to ‘go paperless’ for admin, however, they’d instead keep electronic devices running daily. You could switch off machines when they’re not in use, but they’d still guzzle heaps of electricity in the meantime.
Admittedly, some have gone as far as installing sustainable equipment with in-build generators in an attempt to become an eco-gym. However, the energy these machines produce is nowhere near enough to cover the electricity used by an entire gym building at any given moment.
So why not completely cancel out the daily electricity consumption of gyms?
Park Exercise Equipment for Green Community Fitness Projects
In the debate over which is better between running outside or the gym, most arguments in favour of outdoor fitness will focus on the benefits of green space for mental health in relation to working out.
This is something which we at Sunshine Gym are big proponents of; we believe all landscape architects should bear this in mind when looking to design or create a new outdoor space.
When you’re onto a good thing, keep going!
The social benefits of green space can be maximised by sustainable urban development which encourages community exercise classes. Outdoor gym equipment is the perfect tool for facilitating green fitness. That’s why we believe it should be the next step in your journey to building sustainable communities.
So without further ado, it’s time for…
Indoor Gyms Vs Outdoor Fitness: The ‘Green’ Round!
This one is simple. After construction and installation, it takes no electricity to operate outdoor gym stations.
Most traditional gym equipment, on the other hand, uses an awful lot of electric energy, even when it’s on standby.
Electricity is costly, as is the cost of running everything else within an indoor gym building, from lighting to TVs to water coolers. This is not to mention the initial amount spent buying, repurposing or even constructing a building for the gym.
Compare these costs to the amount that could be saved in instead choosing to install park exercise equipment. This alternative community gym would have immensely minimised overheads.
You may wonder why this counts as an environmental benefit. We would argue that savings made when creating outdoor areas should go towards investment in other green community project ideas.
Whilst a shiny, new indoor gym full of high tech equipment may imply that a local area is doing well financially, it says very little for the environment. A park gym, however, will encourage the community to take pride in, and therefore respect and take care of their green spaces.
It will also encourage more people to make use of their local parks. To take this further, landscape architects can encourage year-round visits to the green area by adding an outdoor shelter or canopy. This way, users can enjoy the fresh air and keep dry at the same time!
Fresh air and ventilation are particularly big issues when it comes to community fitness. Why spend money installing air conditioning or altering ventilation when the great outdoors is right there?
In 2014, researchers from the University of Lisbon and the Delft University of Technology carried out a study which found that the conditions within indoor gyms often lead to potentially dangerous levels of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and even ozone.
This is reportedly due to a combination of poor ventilation, cleaning products, carpeting and electric machinery.
The levels of cleaning required in an indoor gym also contribute to a lot of waste. What with the earth’s natural ventilation to minimise lingering sweat, this is something else that designers of park gyms needn’t take into consideration.
Remember, users can always wear a pair of light, cotton gloves if they’re concerned about bacteria getting passed on.
Many indoor gyms are now trying to reduce the plastic waste generated by clients by promoting the use of reusable water bottles. This is great news! However, the fitness industry still has a long way to go to meet the need for sustainable community projects.
Have you been inspired to incorporate community fitness into the design of parks and green spaces? Take a look at the packages we’ve put together, dedicated to this purpose! Don’t forget, you can also get in touch and book your free site consultation.
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