Get in shape: a free and easy way to keep fit this January

It’s the New Year and you want to start a fitness regime. The problem is, you’re also skint and don’t want to invest in a pricey gym membership. No sweat – just visit one of these outdoor gyms on the GWR network.

Every year, the most commonly declared New Year’s resolution is to ‘get in shape and do more exercise’. But before you shell out on pricey gym membership (which, let’s face it, will be barely used after January), why not give outdoor gyms a try?

There are hundreds of these al fresco fitness areas across the GWR network. They’re easily accessible, open all year round and, best of all, free to use. As they’re also mostly found in public parks and open green spaces – and often close to children’s playgrounds – you can combine a workout in the fresh air with a walk, run or while the kids are having fun.

The exercise equipment available varies from place to place, but caters for all fitness levels, is simple to use (instructions are either displayed on site or can be downloaded from a QR code, or similar, to your smartphone) and offers a low-impact mix of cardiovascular, toning and strength training. Whatever your aim for 2019, getting fit in the great outdoors is well worth a go!

Here’s our guide to some of the best open-air gyms on the network. To find others near you, go to The Great Outdoor Gym Co. or search your local council website.


Brandon Hill
Bristol’s oldest park features a small exercise area with parallel bars and hop-overs. If that doesn’t provide enough of a workout, you could always run up the 109 steps of the 105 feet-tall Victorian Cabot Tower and enjoy breath-taking views of the city from the top.

Getting there: Take the GWR train to Bristol Temple Meads. It’s a 30 minute walk to Brandon Hill.


Wormwood Scrubs, Hammersmith & Fulham
The ‘Scrubs’ has been dubbed one of London’s best locations for al fresco fitness. There’s an outdoor gym area with five different exercise machines and a New York street-style bar park near the Linford Christie stadium. The latter is illuminated until 10pm each evening, so you can work out after work.

Getting there: Take the GWR train to London Paddington, then the Underground to East Acton. From there, it’s a short walk to the park.

Westbourne Green Open Space, Westminster
The park at Westbourne is just 15 minutes’ walk from Paddington Station and divided into three parts. A circular fitness trail, with eight stations, runs around the largest area near Westway Road and includes pull-up, parallel, monkey and wall bars.

Getting there: Take the GWR train to London Paddington. Walk from there to Westbourne.


Fendrod Lake
There are no less than ten fitness stations at Fendrod’s outdoor gym, colour-coded into three zones: cardio, muscle toning and a ‘chill out zone’ (which is an area for warming up and cooling down before and after exercise, rather than relaxing with a coffee and cake). Suitable for over 14s only.

Getting there: Take the GWR train to Swansea, then a local service to Llansamlet. It’s a 25 minute walk from the station to Fendrod Lake.

The Promenade
Swansea’s seafront fitness trail starts at the Civic Centre and runs for 4km along the Prom.

There are nine stations en route, including ‘mini ski’, ‘power push’ and a rowing machine.
Getting there: Take the GWR train to Swansea. It’s a short walk from here to the Civic Centre.


Just a ten-minute walk from the station, Exmouth’s outdoor gym has pull-up and monkey bars and a sit-up machine. Ok, so it’s not quite Muscle Beach on the Californian coast, but it is set in a scenic spot on Exmouth’s esplanade.

Getting there: Take the GWR train to Exmouth and walk to the gym.


South Park
Set in 50 acres of open space, with magnificent views overlooking Oxford, South Park’s fitness trail has seven stations, including an endurance area, tummy tightening bench, stamina course and exercise bikes. There’s another, shorter, trail at nearby Headington Hill Park.

Getting there: Take the GWR train to Oxford. Both parks can be reached by bus or on foot from the station.

Reading and Slough

Practice your parkour in the park, Berkshire-style! At Sol Joel Park in east Reading and Salt Hill Park in Slough, there are walls, boxes and bars to fine-tune your free-running moves.

Getting there: For Sol Joel – take the GWR train to Reading, then a local service to Earley station. Salt Hill Park is a short walk from Slough station.