wooden trim trail equipment

With more and more of us becoming aware of the consequences of weight gain and lack of exercise, particularly after the enforced lockdown many of us have recently had to endure, the need to get fit and have fun again has never been more important.

It is for this reason that trim trail equipment is enjoying a boost in popularity among adults and children alike as we all rush to embrace the great outdoors. Both families and schools are now returning to traditional ideas of mental health-boosting outdoor play for children, and what better way to do so than to install outdoor play equipment.

Trim Trail 1

What is Trim Trail?

Trim trail has its origins in obstacle courses designed for military training in which participants run around an obstacle course navigating as many different obstacles as possible. Trim trail training is uniquely adaptable to all kinds of outdoor spaces large and small, which makes it a perfect choice for outdoor play equipment in schools and parks.

What Trim Trail Equipment Do You Need?

Usually consisting of monkey bars, benches and beams made from natural, sustainable wood you could also throw in ropes, tyre stepping stones and wobble boards to increase the fun and challenge factors. Wooden playground equipment with its much more natural and aesthetically pleasing appearance has a greater attraction for kids than formulaic, cheap-looking plastic. What’s more, it can help to encourage children to think and plan how best to use the equipment and can foster a spirit of friendly and fun competition.

Is Trim Trail Good for all Ages?

Undoubtedly yes it is. There are so many different pieces of equipment to choose from and so many ways in which you can formulate an obstacle course to suit your particular environment and the space available to you. Your trim trail can be made less challenging and more fun-filled for younger children or more complicated and more challenging for older children who may be ready to push themselves a little harder.

The Benefits of a Trim Trail

By taking part in trim trail, children will not only massively improve their physical fitness levels but also their mental wellbeing too by being out in the fresh air and engaging with others. They can become more motivated to push themselves towards greater fitness while at the same time improving motor skills, strength and coordination. A hidden benefit is that children also learn how to take risks in a safe, supervised activity.

Monkey bar closeup detail

Whether in times of lockdown or not we all need to find ways of keeping fit and healthy which can include all the family, and this means seeking out the right equipment.

Outdoor fitness equipment

If you are thinking of setting up some natural outdoor gym equipment in your garden or you are looking for a nearby outdoor gym setting, one piece of equipment to look for is a set of monkey bars. This is because not only are most outdoor monkey bars constructed from safe, durable timber, they nearly always form a reliable part of any natural outdoor play equipment set-up.

Most importantly of all, they’re safe and fun for people of all ages to use and useful for strengthening muscles, improving coordination and improving overall health and fitness.

Improve Muscle Tone and Strength

For adults and older children, monkey bars provide the ideal opportunity to work on little-used muscles:

The Latissimus Dorsi and Deltoid (shoulder) muscles are the ones which aid movement as you pull yourself up towards the bars.

The Biceps (upper arm) muscles gain tone and strength through pulling up and holding on as you swing across the bars.

The Abdominal muscles and Obliques are both called into play as you move forward and swing from side to side as you do so. These muscles provide core stability and strength and as you increase the strength in these you will find you are better able to swing your legs up towards the upper bars over time.

The muscles and grip strength of the hands also benefit greatly the more you use your monkey bars. If you have any weakness of the hands or wrists be sure to wear a good quality hand and wrist support.

Create a Family Routine

There are lots of different exercises you can do on the monkey bars including chin-ups, abdominal curl-ups and pull-ups all of which will improve your fitness levels. Adults and kids can get together and work out a schedule of exercises to do together, maybe even with a bit of competition thrown in.

Younger children love monkey bars because they can, quite literally, monkey around on them and kids are usually more fearless on them than the grown-ups. The important thing is that, while they’re playing around they’re improving their fitness and tiring themselves out at the same time!

When choosing monkey bars remember to seek out natural wooden playground equipment to ensure a quality product that is safe to use – for both adults and children – and long-lasting too. You’ll find plenty of choice on our site.

garden fitness techniques

With the country in lockdown for the foreseeable future the question for many is how to get your daily exercise without breaking social distancing restrictions. The most obvious solution is to utilise whatever garden space you have but if you have a small outdoor space how can you best ensure a full exercise workout whilst having fun at the same time?

Using the space you have

Rather than simply jogging around the back garden every day which, let’s face it is going get very boring very quickly, why not look at installing some good quality outdoor wooden exercise equipment.

A smaller garden will need natural exercise equipment that is compact but still highly effective and useful and which can be used by more than one person at a time.

Introduce a bit of competition

A double outdoor sit-up bench, with the two benches sitting opposite each other, introduces an element of competition for extra interest plus the angles can be adjusted for different degrees of difficulty. Triple outdoor pull-up bars incorporating different heights offer the same opportunity for family competition, or you could opt for a single pull-up bar where space is at a premium. An outdoor squat and pull-up station is a compact piece of equipment excellent for building and maintaining muscle strength and suppleness in upper and lower body. Suggested exercises for this could include pull-ups, chin-ups, leg and knee raises and if you add a barbell with weights you could add weight-assisted squats and presses to your repertoire.

Step-up steps are very good for building stamina and improving cardio-vascular health, and fun when accompanied by music!

Upper body exercise

For upper body strength natural wooden monkey bars are the ultimate test and because these, like all our equipment are constructed from steel and timber, are strong and robust enough to withstand any amount of use by adults and children alike. Plus, because this particular piece is quite a substantial construction, should you neglect your garden exercise regime once the lockdown becomes a distant memory, the monkey bars could conceivably become an attractive pergola for climbing plants!

Jump around

  • Playground trampoline

A mini playground trampoline, designed to sit flush at ground level, to improve balance and general fitness, has to be the most fun option for all ages.

Exercising outdoors is an excellent way to get fit whilst having fun and boosting your levels of calcium-building vitamin D. Choose a good mix of natural outdoor gym equipment to suit all the family and who knows – this could kick-start a health habit all the family can sustain for years to come.

Outdoor fitness ideas

monkey bars

Garden Monkey bars

With confirmed cases of coronavirus cases being reported all over the world daily, and deaths attributed to the virus increasing, we find ourselves in uncharted water. The WHO has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. In the UK employers are asking non-key workers to work from home where possible and all but essential trips out of the home are now forbidden. Bars, restaurants, sports facilities and parks have closed, and at the end of last week, the government declared that schools would be closed to all children except those of keyworkers and vulnerable children including those with EHCPs. As we move into spring and the weather, hopefully, improves, this means that parents will be looking for something to do with their children in order to burn off all that excess energy from being cooped up away from their friends. Exercise is still so important, even more so in these strange times, and for those people who can exercise in the current circumstances, this is best achieved at home. So, if you are fortunate enough to have a garden here are some ways to utilise it.

How can you exercise in the garden?

The garden makes an excellent place to exercise. Not only is it free, but there is plenty of fresh air as well. While many people think of exercise as being something that you might need special equipment for, the good news is that there is actually plenty of things that you can do in your garden that don’t need any special equipment.  General garden tasks are an excellent example of this. If you think about mowing a lawn, especially a large one, then you are walking backwards and forwards a lot, and then, of course, there is the lifting involved in emptying the grass out. Digging flowerbeds is also great exercise and when you combine it with picking up weeds means you are squatting and bending as well. Remember, exercise is about working different parts of the body, and getting your garden summer ready after a long winter could certainly count as a workout. 

Gardening for fitness

Cleaning the outside of your windows and your ledges, especially if it involves climbing a ladder is a great way to exercise outside as well. If you really just want to move your gym session outdoors then why not consider things like lunges, bicycles, jumping jacks, press-ups, burpees or even crunches. If you can do it in a gym without any special equipment, then you can probably do it in your garden as well. The same could be said for that weekly Pilates session. Move it outside and commune with nature at the same time. Being in the garden will really give you a chance to be at one with nature.

If you prefer something a little more strenuous or challenging, then why not contemplate moving your yoga session into the garden, the natural surroundings make it the perfect place for yoga. Any exercise routine with jumping jacks, press-ups and burpees, or other aerobic exercises can be done in your garden just as easily as it can indoors. Strength training can also be incorporated quite easily, walking lunges is one great exercise that you can incorporate, along with wall sits and press ups and your garden furniture can double up for exercises such as tricep dips too. In fact, once you move outside for your exercise, then you may be reluctant to move back indoors, and who could blame you? Of course, the British weather might have other ideas.

Outdoor fitness made easy

Equipment based exercise

Natural outdoor gym equipment offers a great way to get a workout in the garden without really noticing that you are doing exercise. Children love monkey bars, and don’t tell anyone, but plenty of adults do as well! They offer a really great way to improve coordination and upper body strength, and they are great fun too. If you don’t want to swing from one bar to another, which is harder then it looks, then they can work really well for pull-ups or chin-ups as well. Getting outside with the kids is something that many of us will be looking to do while we’re ‘on lockdown’ and many pieces of outdoor play equipment can double up as workout equipment for you too!

Wooden outdoor play equipment comes in a variety of different forms, so if you were thinking the choice is limited to swings and slides, then you would be wrong. A good quality garden trampoline is not only fun for the whole family but a great way to exercise outdoors. It is a workout for both the arms and legs, and once you get the hang of using it, it can also be useful for the core muscles too.

Exercise with monkey bars

Monkey bars are, in fact, the perfect CrossFit solution that could fit perfectly into your garden and your exercise regime. If you don’t have children but would like to mimic the workout from a monkey bar workout, a pull-up bar, combined with a squat station could be the perfect solution. Exercising outdoors doesn’t mean you have to drag your weights bench outside, either. You could have a range of wooden outdoor gym equipment to suit your specific workout needs. From sit up benches to dip bars, natural gym equipment made from solid wood and stainless steel could be the durable (and beautiful) solution to getting just what you need for your workout in the great outdoors.

Conclusion

No one knows just how long this pandemic will last for, but one thing is very clear – as our movements become increasingly limited we need to find other ways in which we can exercise, especially if exercising is already an important part of our day to day routine. For many of us that might mean moving outdoors, especially as the weather improves, and using the space that we have. This might simply mean moving your current aerobic exercise routine outdoors, or it might mean creating a new routine that will incorporate the use of natural outdoor gym equipment. Whichever way you choose to move forward a good exercise routine will not only help to keep you healthy but can also assist in maintaining a sense of wellbeing; something that will be very important in the coming weeks and maybe months. Who knows – exercising in the garden could soon be a habit that we choose to keep up in the long run, making it an excellent hobby for years after this period of uncertainty. The NHS also have a helpful guide to home fitness that can pretty much be performed anywhere.

Exercise and improvise

Japanese playgrounds

Kids, wherever they are, love to play and are naturally attracted to playground swings and equipment. You may be surprised to learn though that there are many differences around the world in what constitutes a suitable and safe play area.

Here in the UK we are very aware of the need to keep our children as safe as they can be whilst playing outside and at the same time we prefer natural environmentally friendly products. This is why natural wooden playground equipment is becoming more popular. We like our children’s outdoor playground equipment to be as safe and as sustainable as possible, but how do the rest of the world do it?

Japan

In contrast to the ‘safety first’ attitude we have here, the Japanese are perhaps not so hot on this. In fact the Japanese tend not to use safety surfaces as they don’t think it teaches a good example to children!  A school in Tokyo has built a playground/sports area on the roof of the building. It could be described as semi-outdoors as it has a retractable roof which closes in bad weather. There is no outdoor play equipment though and definitely no safety flooring! There unique approach doesn’t just stop there. Many of their design can’t be seen anywhere else in the world and are truly inspiring. Check out this great article to see what we mean

Alle Foto’s Door Kito Fujio

Bethlehem

Sadly, children here learn to play behind the thickest walls they can find to protect themselves against gunfire at their school on the West Bank. Even though there’s no sign of any play equipment at all the children still somehow learn to play. An example of how play is innate in children and always finds a way no matter where children are. Activities such as parkour have become popular too as children find any means to challenge and entertain themselves using the environment around them.

Bhutan Monastery

Even though the children live under strict rules they are still allowed outside for play and socialisation and although there is no obvious sign of any play equipment, they have the spectacular scenery around to inspire them.

The USA

In America, the emphasis is very much on athleticism rather than academia in many high schools, and to this end schools pride themselves on the provision of gym space for cheerleaders to practice in and outdoor sports fields and running tracks. The benefit of outdoor wooden and natural play equipment has yet to take root in many US schools. Perhaps this as deemed too risky in a society where litigation and compensation is more common.

plastic

Averoy, Norway

There is a small island school which is connected to the mainland by a recently built tunnel and which has pupils from the ages of 5-13. These children are lucky enough to be able to play outside in the brisk fresh air among the trees but with rudimentary play equipment provided. Scandinavians are famed for their natural playgrounds which have been proven to create healthy minds and bodies

Russia

Despite Russia’s reputation for stern austerity they do set great store by encouraging their children to play, and playgrounds are provided all across the country in parks and public areas as well as in schools. Their playgrounds are very creative and often build very creative and natural playgrounds. Some of their playgrounds contain some quite wacky ideas! One playground is contained within a scaled down copy of Moscow City Kremlin while others have statues of bears, mermaids and even dragons beside the swings. By and large though Russian playgrounds are definitely not designed with ‘safety first’ and believe in the benefits of ‘risky play’.

The best eco-friendly playgrounds

Many countries are becoming keen to ditch plastics and unsustainable metals in favour of re-using and repurposing what they already have to make play equipment. The Wikado Playground in The Netherlands uses old windmills and modern wind turbines to construct a maze-like play area while in Thailand the Rubber Tree Playground features play equipment made from discarded tyres and bamboo.

The Lion’s Playground in Alabama, USA makes interesting use of 2000 recycled steel drums while in Brazil one children’s play area features a labyrinth made entirely from recycled cardboard.

We think way playgrounds are designed and built in each country is a true reflection of their society. When it comes to sustainable and natural outdoor playground equipment it’s good to know that some parts of the world at least are coming around to our way of thinking!

Wooden Stepping Stump Close up

Natural play equipment offers more than you might think. Traditionally, new housing estates have been built to a certain formula where the available space is filled solely with buildings and with little thought of incorporating more than the minimum green space, usually in the form of a lifeless patch of grass.

Thankfully this is now changing with more enlightened local authorities setting out recommendations relating to the importance of developing public open spaces and play environments. The National Planning Policy Framework (2012) requires developers to provide the ‘appropriate amount of and mix of public open space provision.’ And we think natural play equipment fits with this perfectly.

Enhancement to Quality of Life

Developers and local authorities are at last waking up to the advantages of green spaces and play areas and the benefits to public health, particularly the health of our children. With the loss of so many school sports fields over recent decades opportunities for children to enjoy healthy outdoor play has diminished. Not least is the benefit to wildlife when areas of green space are created with the health of our ecological system in mind.

Natural Outdoor Play Equipment for Health Benefits

We have always known that outdoor play is the best route to good health for children. Every child should have the chance to play outdoors in the fresh air and in a safe environment and thankfully future developments will incorporate open, healthy green spaces where children can play on natural outdoor play equipment and explore the surroundings.

Abolish the Plastic

Now that developers are legally obliged to incorporate designated play areas into new estates, with clear guidance set out for how this should be done, there is a wonderful opportunity to embrace the benefits of natural playground equipment. Where outdoor play equipment has been provided in the past this has usually taken the form of cheap, mass-produced plastic items designed with a limited shelf-life. Modern outdoor play equipment made from durable, sustainable and safe hardwood timber and long-lasting stainless steel is not only good to look at it is environmentally friendly and eco-conscious too. Today’s families are all too aware of the damage plastics are doing to the planet and want local authorities and developers to plan new estates with sustainability in mind.

rubber mulch

Safety First and Foremost

Children will always find ways to injure themselves and past playground developments have undoubtedly been far from the safest places for children to play. With this in mind safety surfacing is incorporated into wooden outdoor playgrounds which is not only less likely to cause serious injury but also fulfils the obligation to enhance and protect the natural environment. These safety surfacing options include grass mats and rubber mulch. Both of which are made from recycled rubber tyres.

Forest trees

Play is an essential part of a child’s development, and playgrounds provide an excellent space for children to explore and have fun. In recent years, natural playgrounds have become more prevalent due to environmental concerns, and they are very beneficial for not only the children that play there, but for the environment, as well. Here’s a list of some materials that can be used in a natural playground and the benefits they offer in terms of being environmentally friendly.

Rubber Safety Surfacing

There are three types of rubber safety surface – grass mats, rubber mulch and wet pour. All of these forms are designed to fit into the surrounding environment and can be customised to suit different areas. The rubber is taken from recycled tyres, removing these harmful objects from the ecosystem and turning them into a safe and pleasant play area. Rubber mulch is especially suited to the environment because it looks natural (depending on colour) and are less intrusive to the wildlife in the area. Grass mats promote the use of turf and seeding which therefore creates it’s own ecosystem amongst the blades of grass and roots. Grass also increases air quality which is often much needed in urban play grounds.

Playground trampoline

Old Tyres

Similar to rubber safety surfaces, reusing old tyres makes for a more environmentally friendly playground, as tyres are very durable and do not biodegrade, meaning they could potentially negatively impact the wildlife surrounding them. Problems such as fires, and therefore pollution, can be avoided by recycling tyres. Furthermore, using rubber is an effective tool when it comes to active play due its durability. In other words, rubber play equipment will likely not need to be replaced too often.

Playground tyres

Logs

Using waste logs from tree surgeons removes the need for the surgeon to dispose of the unwanted wood and put it to good use as outdoor playground equipment. If not taken, the logs may be used for purposes such as firewood, which is not healthy for the environment (due to smoke pollution and the risk of the fire becoming hard to control). Like grass mats and rubber mulch, wooden playground equipment blends in with the environment and is resistant to changes in weather. This means it weathers at a similar rate to the surroundings, keeping it natural-looking, requires little maintenance and often are the most popular pieces of equipment on playgrounds.

Natural climbing logs

Planting Trees

We do our best to plant as many trees and plant into all of our playgrounds. This well in turn improve the air quality of the playground and the surrounding area. After the installation of every playground, planting an oak tree is an extra touch we like to take. Oak is one of the primary woods that are used for wooden playground equipment so planting more trees allows the process to be more sustainable. The oak trees provide habitats for many different species of insect, bird and mammal, which allow the ecosystem to build and flourish.

Next time you’re looking to upgrade or install natural playground equipment, why not go eco-friendly and reap all the benefits to the environment as well as the benefits to the children that play there, by choosing wooden playground equipment.

oak tree for playgrounds
Oak tree planted for every playground we deliver

Old Ford Primary School Bespoke Playground

A couple of weeks ago we organised and designed quite an ambitious project for the W. R. BERKLEY CORPORATION team to take on. They are currently building one of London’s newest skyscrapers called ‘The Scalpel’ and soon showed what can be done when a corporation from the city works hard to put something back into the community.

A big thank you to the whole Scalpel team for all of their hard work and funding.

old ford school bespoke climbing frame

Why Bespoke?

PlayEquip are best known for the service we provide for teachers, parents, landscape architects and architects. It’s often the case where someone comes to us with an idea of what they want, a budget and the willingness to make the most of every penny. Often people are unnerved about the the word ‘bespoke’. This shouldn’t be the case. We have found that this is in fact the most effective way of creating exactly what you need and utilising your budget most effectively. Instead of trying make something fit, surely it makes sense to design around the space you have.

Bespoke play structure sketch

 

We craft bespoke playground equipment from the same materials we create the our ‘off-the-shelf’ equipment from. For us, creating a climbing frame to fit a 6m x 5m area is no real difference to producing one to fit a 8m x 6m area. We construct all of our products here in the UK to order, which allow total flexibility in design. We are more than happy to create safe and robust playground equipment from a quick sketch and a chat. Be assured that all of our bespoke playground equipment is design by a play safety expert and crossed check by an independent play inspector during the design process and post completion. All playground equipment that me install and design adhere the the European Safety Standards EN 1176. We enjoy working closely with our clients to make sure absolutely every detail is taken care of.

Check out some of latest bespoke playgrounds here

Bespoke playground equipment elephant and castle

Space is a premium, especially in the city. It’s vital to make the most of every square foot of space that you have. Through our years of developing some of the best climbing frames around, we believe that bespoke climbing frames and play structures is the only way to make the most of what you have got.

If you wanted a new kitchen, you wouldn’t try and make something fit, you would assess the house and it’s requirements and implement a design that suits your exact needs. With the high cost of playground equipment why would you try and make an off-the-shelf range fit in what little and valuable space you have? You’re probably now thinking the cost of this approach would be prohibitive? Well that’s where you’re wrong. Our wealth of knowledge of play design and expert knowledge of material use mean that the development of a bespoke climbing frame or structure is simpler and cheaper than you think.

bespoke structure drawing

If you wanted a new kitchen, you wouldn’t try and make something fit, you would assess the house and it’s requirements and implement a design that suits your exact needs. With the high cost of playground equipment why would you try and make an off-the-shelf range fit in what little and valuable space you have? You’re probably now thinking the cost of this approach would be prohibitive? Well that’s where you’re wrong. Our wealth of knowledge of play design and expert knowledge of material use mean that the development of a bespoke climbing frame or structure is simpler and cheaper than you think.
Bespoke climbing frame design
After a free consultation over a cup of tea, we will quickly formulate a plan that covers all of your requirements and maximum the potential of your budget. Our in-house design team and play safety experts* will create a concept drawing for your review free of charge. Final tweaks can then be made to the design until it’s perfect for your requirements.

Site Specific Design

We realise that most of our constructions are in sensitive locations. For this reason we create your bespoke climbing frames in modular units that can be transported from our UK workshop to site. This reduces time on site and provides a high finish in the controlled environment of a workshop.

Our UK workshop means that lead time for each project are dramatically reduced. Depending on scale, we can have a project on site within a few weeks of first contact. Construction phases can be completed within extremely short spaces of time, such as school holidays

Installation is quick, stress free and performed by our expert play specialists who have a wealth of knowledge of installation in schools, garden, parks and nurseries. We are well used to construction within root protection zones and do most excavations by hand, reducing noise and ensuring the least disruption as possible.

We believe that the old system of trying to make a square fit a circle is outdated. As the importance of play is realised more and more, we must provide the facility to make the most of it. If you a parent, teacher, architect, or third sector worker please get in touch for a chat and lets make a difference.

Check out some of our bespoke climbing frames here

PlayEquip

* All bespoke climbing frame are built to the european safety standard EN1176