In the UK there is a type of fitness workout that is taking off. Introducing The Green Gym! The first gym was introduced over 20 years ago as a program that combines getting fit with being outdoors and helping to create green spaces.
The program is run by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), an organization in the UK. Their aim is to ‘bring people together to create, improve and care for green spaces.’ The outdoor gym targets people who wouldn’t use traditional gyms and helps them get fit. There is also the added benefit to members of being outdoors and meeting new people.
The Green Gym is open to everyone, and especially targets at-risk groups, such as people with mental health problems, physical health issues and isolation. TCV say that their service reduces the demand for health care services by ‘promoting more activity for those susceptible to preventable illnesses, and social inclusion for those affected by isolation and loneliness’.
Christopher Bingham, from Northern Ireland explained how the gym has helped him through a rough patch:
“During lockdown I was in a dark period, I was doing nothing with my life… But as soon as the green gym came along it’s really helped me, it’s pulled me out of a rut.”
The results speak for themselves too! As a result of attending The Green Gym, members saw their physical health increase by a huge 33%. Over a three-month period, members also saw anxiety decrease by 26%, and their feelings of being worthwhile increased by nearly a third!
So what is a typical workout at The Green Gym?
Green Gyms usually happen weekly, for 3-4 hours per session. Turnout to gym sessions ranges from 6 to 20 people. Don’t worry if you’re interested in joining; you won’t be doing an intensive workout straightaway! The day begins with a warmup and ends with a cooldown exercise. New volunteers start out on less intensive exercises, such as planting seeds, before moving onto muscle-building exercises, such as moving soil or gravel around in a wheelbarrow.
TCV’s future goal is to be able to have a Green Gym within a 10 minute walk of people’s houses. There are currently 100 gyms, with a plan to increase their number to 600 within the next 5 years!
Find out more about the organisation here!