Outdoor fitness

An interview with Steffen Strasser,

Outdoor fitness

Playground@Landscape: The association has founded a new outdoor fitness park committee within the BSFH: What is the BSFH aiming to achieve?
Steffen Strasser (AA Chairman): The start-up meeting of the BSFH "Outdoor fitness park" work group took place in May of this year. We have noticed a significant increase in the need for exercise in public spaces over the last few years. Unfortunately, there have also been developments in this respect that have not always been good. For example, exercise equipment often built in a strategically awkward place in a children's playground...
As a subgroup of the BSFH, it's important to us that the new fitness areas are well designed and equipped. This is why we want to be available as an information forum for local decision-makers and landscape architects.

P@L: Outdoor fitness – is it just a fad?
Steffen Strasser: We believe that the mixed-generation exercise area isn't just a fad, but a logical result of the ongoing and unstoppable demographic change that has been happening for years. Furthermore, with regard to independent preventative healthcare, it is also becoming increasingly important to offer fitness-conscious people conceptual, high-quality solutions for individual fitness possibilities.
Exercise areas in most cases aren't just fitness studios outside, they are also meeting places for people who want to keep fit. The desire for this is not actually age-related and is obviously not just restricted to senior citizens.

P@L: What objectives has the group set?
Steffen Strasser: We want to create awareness that exercise areas outdoors are a means to providing solutions for pressing social problems such as obesity. As well as the physical components of staying healthy and physical well-being, exercise as part of a group also involves strong social components. This is why we have set ourselves the objective of promoting the idea of a fitness park.

P@L: Are local authorities running out of ideas, so much that when in doubt, playgrounds are being taken down? Would it not be sensible to develop a fitness area for more generations?
Steffen Strasser: Essentially it's a shame for any children's playground to be taken down! The importance of playgrounds for child development is often not considered in relation to these kinds of decision. It is particularly unfortunate though when it's just for financial reasons. Sometimes, the demographic ageing of the residents in a district means there are far fewer children and the playgrounds there are barely being used. In such cases, setting up a fitness park can be a sensible alternative.

P@L: So a must for any local community?
Steffen Strasser: This is ultimately unavoidable if you want to consider demographic change. So, like the idea of public spaces being dedicated to children's play caught on, the public fitness course will also be a development that will gain acceptance. Many local authorities now want to offer this kind of thing region-wide and have already made a start on it.

P@L: What's the situation with regard to safety and the related standards?
Steffen Strasser: There has been a new DIN standard in place since May 2012 that covers fitness equipment outdoors – DIN 79000. This provides for more safety and also forms the basis for European standardisation. They expect Europe to follow this idea!

P@L: What does an ideal fitness park look like? What requirements should they have?
Steffen Strasser: We believe there is no such thing as an ideal type of park. It always has to be tailored to the individual needs of the location and users. It's important when designing the fitness park that there is a healthy balance between a good location, the choice of equipment tailored to target group and the conceptual implementation.

P@L: How many chin-ups can you do?
Steffen Strasser: ...I always manage the first one... :-)


This interview was led by Thomas R. Müller (Playground@Landscape)

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