Natural playground design

The Benefits of Natural Play Equipment in New Estates

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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.

metal monkey barsEnhancement 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.

Natural play equipment

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 play 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 surface

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.

fitness monkey bars

The Benefits of Exercising in the Garden

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The Benefits of Exercising in the Garden

wooden fitness monkey bar gym

It isn’t a secret that regular exercise is an excellent way to improve vitality, as well as promote both physical and mental health, but did you know that exercising outside can actually increase these benefits? According to many fitness experts, it can. In fact, many people are now referring to exercising in the garden as “green exercise” and it is believed to have numerous health enhancing effects on the body. But those aren’t the only benefits to exercising in the to keep physically fit. Exercising in the garden can also be a convenient, and cost effective, alternative to exercising at the gym, as well as a great way to encourage the entire family to participate in physical fitness. And getting a garden gym made from natural materials can certainly make a stylish addition to your garden.

Privacy

While going to the gym can be great in terms of the selection of outdoor fitness equipment to choose from, the total lack of privacy can often be uncomfortable. Exercising in the privacy of your own garden on the other hand allows for a private and more importantly, stress-free atmosphere that will encourage the whole family to commit to a regular fitness routine. Depending on the outdoor gym equipment you’d like installed, you could even make circuit training a family activity where you all keep each other motivated.

A More Cost-effective Way To Stay Fit

Gym memberships can cost hundreds of pounds a year to maintain. And while you can’t put a price on good health, having a gym membership isn’t your only option for staying physically fit – and it isn’t the most cost-effective option either. Especially when you compare the cost of a gym membership per annum to the cost of purchasing your own outdoor gym equipment that will last you for years to come. Creating your own outdoor gym in the privacy of your garden can not only offer a convenient and private workout setting, it can save you tons of money in the long run. And, if you choose custom built outdoor gym equipment tailored to your fitness plan, you’re not wasting money on equipment that you’ll never use – let’s face it, no matter how well stocked a gym is with all kinds of different equipment, we only really use a few pieces.monkey-bars-01

A Faster and More Convenient Way To Keep in Shape

One of the most common reasons that people give for not being able to keep to a consistent exercise routine is lack of time. Going to the gym to exercise often means having to navigate traffic, then search for a parking spot, followed by manoeuvring through a crowded locker room – all this before your workout has even begun!  And unless you have joined a gym that is open 24 hours a day, your exercise is limited to the times that the gym is open. When you have outdoor fitness equipment in your garden, you can enjoy the convenience of working out in the comfort of your own property whenever you choose. This will also allow your entire family to exercise together, or around their own individual schedules, making it easier than ever to commit to a healthy, and physically active, lifestyle.

Remember, our outdoor fitness equipment can also be used for play. Mixed use equipment really makes a the most of the space and budget and can easily by tailored to your needs. Take a look at a previous blog post about how garden playground equipment such as monkey bars and swings can be used as part of you fitness routine.

Here’s a great video showing various fitness techniques that can be performed on garden fitness equipment.

 

wooden outdoor fitness equipment

Outdoor Fitness Equipment – The Natural Way

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Outdoor Fitness Equipment – The Natural Way

When it comes to keeping fit there really is no better place to be than the great outdoors, breathing in all that healthy natural fresh air whilst getting some exercise.

wooden outdoor fitness equipment
Outdoor fitness class

Unfortunately, so much of the outdoor fitness equipment you will come across has been designed purely with functionality in mind, and it can be something of an eyesore set against the natural backdrop of a stunning park or garden. In a society that is looking to reduce its use of plastic it is fortunate therefore that there are other alternatives to equipment that is made from less environmentally friendly materials and from bold colours, that whilst appealing to younger people, really do not fit into their surroundings.

Return to nature with outdoor fitness equipment

Wood is a fantastic, and of course natural, material that is perfectly suited to the building of equipment for both indoor and outdoor use. It makes a perfect base for any natural outdoor fitness equipment that can be incorporated into any natural environment where it will enhance rather than detract from the natural beauty. It is also a much more environmentally friendly material that does not harm the environment around it.

There are more and more innovations in outdoor fitness equipment that has been designed specifically with the goal of fitting into the natural environment. This equipment stands out for all the right reasons rather than the wrong ones. In addition to a variety of different types of timber, this type of outdoor fitness equipment is often made using rope and steel components to provide equipment that is very aesthetically pleasing in any environment. In addition to naturally durable timbers which can be used to form the main parts of the equipment you might also expect to see tree trunk “barrels” or thick slices being used as steps or even seats.

Monkey bars for fitness and play

Think around the problem

Sometimes there is no getting away from the need to use certain materials for outdoor fitness equipment that is of a less environmentally friendly nature. However it is still possible to create something that blends with the environment in a more natural way. Outdoor trampolines have become increasingly popular in recent years, but they are large and really not that pretty to look at. Sinking a trampoline into the ground, however, is a great way to hide the necessary, framework from sight. The trampoline skin will lie level with the ground making is less obvious and much more environmentally and user friendly.

By using a little clever thinking there are plenty of ways in which you can create an outdoor fitness environment that blends into its surroundings.

The Benefits of Natural Playground Equipment on the Environment

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The Benefits of Natural Playground Equipment on the Environment

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
monkey bars for fitness

How wooden playground equipment could be incorporated into the outdoor workout?

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How wooden playground equipment could be incorporated into the outdoor workout?

 

Recently there has been a huge increase in the amount of outdoor playground equipment designed for exercise use. Councils, employers, schools, colleges, hotels and of course gyms, have been installing dedicated outdoor gym equipment to encourage more of the population to reap some of the benefits of exercising in the open.

wooden outdoor fitness equipment

Exercising outdoors is proven to be extremely beneficial – both physically and mentally – but if your local park hasn’t got around to installing body weight rowing machines and cross-trainers you need not miss out. All you need is some widely available wooden playground equipment and a bit of determination!

fitness monkey bars

Before you start

 

First things first: you might be getting in touch with your inner kid by exercising but some parents can be funny about adults using outdoor playground equipment – especially if you’re not at the park with your kids – so it’s best to keep your sessions to early morning and late evening. And warm up by gently running to the playground, or taking in a couple of laps of the park.

Swings

Squatting on two legs is hard. Squatting on one leg is much, much harder. Going from two legs to one requires practice and a swing is the ideal piece of equipment to help. Hold the seat for balance as you go down into the lowest squat you can manage, then stretch one leg out, parallel to the floor. Build reps slowly if you’re not used to it.

 

Another exercise you can use a swing seat for is the Ab-rollout. Stand over the swing with your hands on the seat, then push it away from you, without moving your feet, and return to the start position.

Using playground equipment for fitness

 

Ladders

Wooden playground equipment often has bars or ladders a couple of feet off the ground. These lend themselves well to Inverted Rowing (Slide under, grab the bar and lift yourself up and down). Depending on the design of the outdoor playground equipment you may also be able to use them for pull-ups and dips too.

 

Monkey Bars

Swinging hand from hand is great for building upper body strength. You can also use this piece of outdoor playground equipment for chin-ups and similar exercises.

 

Benches

All playgrounds have somewhere for parents to sit – but you can use the benches for bench jumps, push-ups, Bulgarian split squats, dips and many other similar exercises where a small amount of elevation is required.

 

So, next time the kids want to visit the park, or you’re passing an empty playground, there’s really no reason not to work out!

 

 

 

 

CSR day with W. R. BERKLEY CORPORATION

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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.  

Outdoor Classroom and Stage

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Contemporary Outdoor Classrooms 

We have recently completed a new project designed by Variant Office, for Tulse Hill Adventure Playground in Lambeth, London. The beautiful outdoor classroom was designed to make use of the open space and create more room for after school learning for the local community.

The Benefits of Monkey Bars

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Monkey bars aren’t just great playground equipment, they are a fun and great way to improve your posture and strength too.

Many of us spend our time in front of a computer and are unable to maintain focus an posture. Monkey bars provide a great exercise that can help maintain a postural strength. This in turn, will reduce fatigue at work.

            monkey bars for fitness by playequip

Areas of the body that monkey bars exercise are as follows:-

Latissimus Dorsi muscles

Or ‘Lats’ stabilise the movement as you pull upwards from bar to bar. Using these muscles is key in order to lift yourself up as you move forward along the monkey bar and gain momentum.

Deltoids or Shoulder Muscles

Monkey bars provide a unique exercise for your shoulders.  They extend whilst contracting in order to stabilise the movement.

Biceps

As with the Latissimus Dorsi muscles, they are both an agonist in the movement along the monkey bars and a muscle responsible for the stability of your body. As you keep you body up the agonist action is needed during each swing forward.

Abdominal muscles and Obliques

As you move forward your abdominal muscles are used to provide stability as your body moves left to right.

Monkey bars can also be used as Chin-Up bars. Yet another great exercise that works you upper body using your own body weight.

Head over to our wooden playground equipment page and take a look at some of the options. Please remember that we can build robust bespoke monkey bars to your exact requirements.

Grip Strength

Monkey bars are a great bit of fitness equipment to work on your grip strength. Extension of you finger forward and rolling back as you reach for the next bar gives you a full hand workout that you can really feel. Good grip strength is very important in your day to day life and obviously improves your ability to use other upper body fitness equipment

Take a look at the video below of some of the masters at work

For a wide selection of different monkey bars for all abilities check this link to our online store

outdoor fitness monkey bars

Bespoke playground equipment

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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

Bespoke climbing frames drawing

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 Climbing Frames and Play Structures

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Bespoke Climbing Frames

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.

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