Portsmouth park gets a new outdoor gym area in UK-first unveiling from Sheffield start-up Parkletics

From left, Beth Hayward, founder of Parkletics, The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Lee Mason and Katie Carew-Robinson, Parkletics instructor. Picture: Sarah Standing (220419-6399)
From left, Beth Hayward, founder of Parkletics, The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Lee Mason and Katie Carew-Robinson, Parkletics instructor. Picture: Sarah Standing (220419-6399)
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TRICEP dips, steps, pull-ups and planks. 

These are just a handful of more than 175 exercises fitness lovers and families can now take on at a Portsmouth park thanks to the launch of a new outdoor gym yesterday. 

Anna Potten from Fratton Big Local. Picture: Sarah Standing (220419-6423)

Anna Potten from Fratton Big Local. Picture: Sarah Standing (220419-6423)

The wooden equipment at the Kingston Recreation Ground is the first in the UK to be unveiled by fitness start-up Parkletics, which uses expertise from sports scientists at Sheffield Hallam University to build effective exercise gear for people of all ages. 

Part-funded by Fratton Big Local, the gym pairs with Parkletics’ iPhone app – enabling users to start their own fitness groups and find exercises the equipment can be used for. 

Katie Carew-Robinson, an instructor trained by Parkletics to help the people of Portsmouth make the most of the equipment, welcomed families as they tried it out for the first time after it was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, councillor Lee Mason. 

‘I can’t wait to see this equipment being used and I think it’ll be really nice to see groups of people of different ages showing others that exercise can be for everyone,’ she said. 

George Sheldon (4) having a go at the Top Banana Circus tent. Picture: Sarah Standing (220419-5513)

George Sheldon (4) having a go at the Top Banana Circus tent. Picture: Sarah Standing (220419-5513)

‘Because we live in such a built-up area, this lovely green space is like a garden extension for some people and this equipment will only make it a better place to come and visit.’ 

The gym’s arrival comes a year after a revamped children’s play area and a hard-standing ping-pong table area were unveiled at Kingston Recreation Ground. 

Fratton Big Local community development worker, Anna Potten, said use of the park has shot up in the past 12 months and expects the equipment to boost numbers even further. 

‘This gym was put in because when we did a consultation for the park, as well as adults saying they want more challenging play equipment for their children, which they now have, they also said they’d like something for themselves too,’ she said. 

‘It doesn't have any moving parts so it should last and it’s suitable for all kinds of activity – for complete beginners to people who are really buff.’ 

She added: ‘We never anticipated how many more people would play in the park when it was upgraded last year, but it has been massive and we’re really pleased.’ 

The equipment was the brainchild of Cheshire entrepreneur and former teacher Beth Hayward, who hopes it will be the first of many sites across the UK – including others in Portsmouth. 

‘Not only is this equipment great for getting families and other people of all ages into the park, studies we’ve done have also shown that it’s brilliant for mental health,’ she said. 

‘You can exercise by yourself for free here or alongside others and it’s healthy for the mind and the body.

‘This is just the start of Parkletics and it’s really exciting.’ 

The unveiling coincided with an Easter Eggstravaganza which saw families enjoy five activities in the sunshine, before being given a token to collect a free Easter egg.