In cities around the world, people have begun reclaiming their instincts by returning to the outdoors to exercise.
Even a concrete enclave cannot confine those of adventurous spirit – urban fitness one of the fastest growing trends shaping the evolution of exercise.
“The city is the new gym” or so it would seem – weather-tolerant exercise equipment in urban settings like parks, playgrounds are popping up in cities around the world. The concept of constructing an outdoor version of indoor gym equipment to encourage people in urban areas to get active originated in China where it has been used as a national fitness campaign prior to the 2008 Olympic Games.
In China the trend has been so effective in raising fitness and health levels that they have rolled out over 37 million square feet of outdoor gymnasiums across the country since 1998.
GreenGym was the first company to introduce the outdoor gym concept to Canada in 2007. Since that time they have sold fitness parks right across the country in every Canadian province and the Yukon. In 2010 they will have installed gym equipment in over 100 parks throughout Canada and sold equipment for more GreenGyms in Mexico and United States.
Street fitness which includes parkour (freestyle running), park bootcamps, and inner city primal training clinics offer a variation of this concept, making use of natural settings, urban structures and mobile equipment such as kettlebells, resistance bands, ropes, and other versatile tools.
Crossfit, MonkeyBarGym, FitDeck, TRX Training, IronEdge and Mark’s Daily Apple all offer resources for those interested in deviating from conventional gym workouts and equipment.
Finally, there is another kind of Green Gym that embraces the term ‘work’out. Conservation Volunteers Australia run a project entitled Green Gym for those looking to get active, spend time outdoors, meet new people and help the environment. This is a collaborative initiative by Parks Victoria and Go for your Life as part of the Active in Parks Partnership encouraging and supporting active community participation and activity in parks.
At Green Gym you can have fun outdoors, discover the wonders of nature, have a great time with your Green Gym team mates and help your local environment through hands-on conservation activities.
Projects include tree planting, rubbish clean ups, weeding, track building and maintenance, flora and fauna surveys and anything else your team feels they can “take on” together.
With so many options – from conventional to conservation-focused fitness the city truly is the new gym.
Why not take our challenge this month and try training outdoors!

Inga Yandell
Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.