Things go in cycles. A few hundred years ago, wealth and privilege offered an escape from the need for physical exertion – it gave you servants to clean your house, work in your garden and groom your horses. And it gave you horses to pull a carriage so that you didn’t have to walk wherever you needed to go. But, even then, as evidenced by Thomas Jefferson’s quote, people were aware that we needed to exercise – and they managed to make it fun.
And now that most of us commute by car, and spend almost all our day at a desk, we really need to exercise. But there are very few of us who can really leave the whole afternoon free for romping through the woods, playing with our children or hitting a ball across a net. At most, we manage an hour or two a day when we can sneak off to the gym, or go for a run or a cycle. So, because that time is so precious, we need to make the most of it, and the best way to do that is to combine exercise with something else – like quality time with the people you like and love, and maybe even those you don’t really know that well, but who qualify as neighbours so perhaps you should.
And that’s one of the big strengths of residential estates. Residential estates all have at least one thing in common, and that is that they are a group of people living in proximity to each other, so they can be defined as a community. But an estate is only a community if it has some ethos of sharing and caring for one another. And one of the best, easiest and most cost-effective ways to enhance the community ethos is to provide communal activity areas and opportunities, such as a clubhouse, sports facilities, kids’ play areas and exercise facilities. Many estates have swimming pools and tennis courts, some have jogging paths and cycle tracks, some even have stables and dressage arenas, and many have gyms. And, while an indoor gym is a great idea, especially in bad weather, an outdoor gym is infinitely better. Firstly, it’s outside, so you get the advantage of a stunning view, fresh air, sunshine, birdsong, the smell of flowers, and a widening horizon, whereas in a gym you get focus, a narrowing of boundaries, the sound of grunting weightlifters and – yes – sometimes also the smell of grunting weightlifters. Going to an indoor gym is discipline. Frolicking outdoors on funky gym equipment with your partner, while your kids throw a frisbee nearby for the dog, is play. And exercise with a light heart is just so much more fun – and it’s a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours, too.
Many estate managers and HOAs have discovered that outdoor gyms tend to become the physical, emotional and social centre of the community, encouraging and facilitating interaction and socialising. And this results in residents (and visitors) getting to know one another and appreciating the value of community living. The better the community ethos of an estate, the higher the property values.
And, really, it’s a lot easier and more cost-effective than you may think – especially if compared to a dedicated indoor gym. Outdoor Fitness Equipment (OFE) facilities can be tailored to meet the space available, and for almost any budget. Because of the variety of potential solutions using OFE, it is important to engage with a company that has the experience, expertise, appropriate equipment and maintenance thereof. So engage with an OFE service provider before finalising the plan with regard to OFE to ensure that the best outcome is achieved for both the community and the funders. Apart from strengthening the community ethos with an OFE, the other major advantage is that the OFE will be available to people of all ages and levels of fitness, and all day and night all year round, with no management required.
And the best part is that because it is designed to be left outdoors in all weather, outdoor gym equipment is inherently rugged, so it requires minimal maintenance. As long as the ground has been properly prepared and the equipment properly installed by an experienced professional, maintenance should be minimal, and it can be covered by a cost-effective maintenance contract.
Installing an attractive, fun and challenging outdoor fitness area is one of the most effective ways to enhance the value and community life of your estate while also enhancing the health and wellbeing of your residents. It’s a win-win.