Build a public outdoor gym
Outdoor gyms have become widely popular in West African cities. Sports activities in public space are not only inclusive and accessible. Working out with friends is great fun, reduces stress and boosts self-confidence. Practising sports can help young people to clear their minds and activate their inner strength. By doing it together, it also promotes social cohesion.
By creating an outdoor gym with locally sourced materials you are actively contributing to these positive effects. Employing local skills is great for the economy, but also makes your gym easier to maintain and cost-effective in the long run.
In this tutorial, we will guide you step-by-step through the process of engaging with the community, employing local knowledge to procuring materials, testing and installing the training equipment. Ready? Set … go!
1. Find a location
How to get started? Search a suitable location for your outdoor gym. Find out about the places where young people like to hang out. Preferably choose an area which naturally draws the audience you are aiming for. As steel (our main building material) can get really hot, prioritise shaded places over sunny ones.
When possible, use the advantage of an extensive roof of a building or a shading tree. Last but not least, make sure the location provides enough space for the outdoor gym’s base.
2. Consult with the community
- Make a map and mark the location (if possible, meet directly at the building location)
- Print the designs, visualisations and technical drawings
- Measure and mark the dimensions of the gym with tape, calk or stones
Take a second facilitator with you to document the session with notes and photographs. This will help you put your entire focus on engaging with the community.
Make a list of possible questions to equip yourself with answers beforehand. This will help you to stay cool and decisive throughout the meeting.
3. Employ local knowledge
Briefing the welder:
- Bring the technical drawings with the training equipment and dimensions as a printout.
- Ask your colleagues from procurement for help when negotiating the price.
The costs should include working hours, transport to location, installation and materials.
- If possible, allow for an advance payment to facilitate buying materials and transportation costs. Always keep a fair amount of the payment for the end, after all deliverables are met.
- Fix a clear starting and delivery date.
- Ask the welder to paint the training equipment with anti-corrosive paint after welding.
Showing pictures of already realised work can help to visualise the expected outcome.
Make it to the finish line
4. Create the base
5. Approve workmanship
- Is the training equipment well anchored in the ground (see anchoring advice)?
- Does the welding seem smooth?
- Do you discover any steel surfaces without anti-corrosive paint?
- Test it yourself, if you feel comfortable with it!
- If necessary, communicate changes to the welder and reschedule for final delivery.
Pump it up!
No Paint, no gain
The Outdoor gym in a nutshell
Suggested time: 18 days
Materials needed: Steel pipe round and squared (see manual)
Participants: 1 mason, 1 welder
Location: inside a youth or sports facility or in public space
Estimated costs: 2300 USD
This article was first written by Simon Meienberg, who also made the pictures and illustrations.