Gibraltar has two big gyms that are based on the Fitness First model, Atlantic Suites and Ocean Village. There is also Kings Bastion Gym, and several other specific sports clubs with gyms, there are also many residential buildings with gyms incorporated into them, Kings Wharf, The Anchorage and I believe The Clifton’s to name but a few.
I am big fitness fan which is why when the outdoor free gyms were put up in Gibraltar I was pretty impressed with the idea of a government that was actively involved in trying to improve the fitness levels of its people. So often we are bombarded with information regarding how to exercise, but joining a gym is not cheap. I often walk past this park pictured (on Rosia Road) and it is more often than not full of people. Usually very early in the morning or later in the evening. However there are a few drawbacks to these schemes.
- The parks are not shaded or sheltered. This really does limit the time they can be used; working out in the middle of the day is not going to happen during the summer, unless you want sunstroke. Likewise, when it is raining this could leave you open to injury by slipping off of equipment.
- The ‘bikes’ do not offer any resistance, the peddles are also pretty risky in that your feet can fly off of them whilst you pedal, if you get a bit of speed up. Bruised shins alert!
- Some of the equipment is rather baffling. Even with instructions and a personal trainer, we were left lost as to what one piece was actually for and what the outcome from using it would be.
- The equipment that has you lifting your own body weight is a good idea but as my PT friend pointed out, it is fairly likely to cause muscle strain rather than using a small weight and building up as you become fitter.
- In my opinion there needs to be some kind of safety notice put up, informing people not to use the equipment when intoxicated (although amusing to watch drunken teenagers flail around, that is going to hurt the next day) and to wear appropriate attire. (I have seen ladies ‘having a go’ in their Sunday heels!) Although this is obviously common sense, I don’t think it would be fair if the parks were removed because the local authorities get sued over a stupid accident.
However I will say that my personal trainer friend did agree with my idea that anything that encourages people who have serious weight issues to get some kind of exercise is a good thing. Anything is better than nothing. They just need to approach those bikes with an element of caution! And also consult a doctor with regard to what they should be doing exercise wise, injuring yourself isn’t going to help anyone get fit!
The parks look good and I have noticed that they are regularly maintained, red and white tape adorned one piece of equipment for just a few days whilst repairs were undertaken. I think that maybe the surface under some of the equipment good be replaced with a softer substitute. Concrete hurts if you land on it! Also I really think the addition of some kind of shelter would be welcome, and make the parks more user-friendly.
If these parks are not your cup of tea, you need only look inland at the Rock and know that nature has offered you a free work out in the shape of a 400 + metre high rock to scale any day of the week! Carrying a bottle of water in each hand you will tone up your arms, get a great cardio work out and keep yourself hydrated!