Outdoor Exercise Equipment update: 4 February 2024
The current situation with the outdoor exercise equipment is much better than it was but, bearing in mind that it was supposed to be completed in September 2023, the installation phase has been a huge disappointment to us. We remain happy with our choice of equipment but wish it had been installed properly first time.
Combi 5 Street Exercise Unit
- During January the safe surface carpet around the Combi 5 unit was completely replaced and is now much better.
- There remain several minor snags on the unit that we are waiting to be resolved.
- We have asked for the fencing stacked near it to be removed.
- The City Bike is fully function and we're really pleased with it.
- We are waiting for a resin surface to be applied over the poor quality tarmac.
Magnetic Bells Unit
- Following refurbishment and reinstallation, after laying of tarmac it was found that the ground buffers under the Mag Bells had been fitted too deeply. They should be raised up around 8cm above the tarmac. We are now awaiting some retro-fitted ground buffers to be manufactured and installed.
- There are post caps still to be fitted and there are scratches on the display board.
- We are waiting for a resin surface to be applied over the tarmac (to match the City Bike).
Unjustifiable threat of court action by the council
In addition to all these issues, after agreeing that a hold placed on payment for equipment delivery could be lifted in December, we were very distressed to receive a Final Notice threatening Court Action for not paying it less than a week later. After a very strongly worded complaint we received an apology but are still awaiting a reply to our follow-up questions.
Outdoor Exercise Equipment update: 12 December 2023
We'd been hoping by now we would be able to tell the community that our Exercise Equipment Project is finished.
Frustratingly that is still not the case.
As explained below in October, the Magnetic Bells unit was installed incorrectly and had to come back out and be sent away for refurbishment. The unit was returned in late October but reinstallation dragged on and on. Laying of tarmac to all three locations was held awaiting the Mag Bells being reinstalled and now that has finally been done there are a considerable number of issues and snagging items around all three units but particularly the Mag Bells and the Combi 5 Unit, including issues with the safe surface carpet.
We met on site with Council Officers on Thursday 7 December. They are as dissatisfied as we are and have spoken to their contractor about the problems. We have been assured that all the issues will be addressed and resolved, including replacement of the unsatisfactory safe carpet around the Combi 5.
We are now waiting to learn timescales for the proposed rectification works to be carried out.
Note: Unfortunately the Combi 5 Unit has been fenced off pending replacement of the safe surface carpet.
We would like to make it clear that we are very happy with the new equipment we chose from Kompan and look forward to the installation being finished to our satisfaction.
Outdoor Exercise Equipment update: 14 October 2023
We are sure many of you will be wondering what's happening with our outdoor exercise equipment project. Installation should have been completed a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately the Mag Bells unit was installed incorrectly. Thankfully we spotted this before tarmacking and work was stopped for investigations. The Mag Bells unit has now been removed and gone off-site for refurbishment. We understand it is due to return soon and then the final stages of the works can be completed and everything will be ready to use.
Outdoor Exercise Equipment Project
We've been waiting a long time to unveil our Outdoor Exercise Equipment Project in Marple Memorial Park, and we've been raising money for a long time too.
In May 2023 we asked the community for their thoughts on our options and have taken everything onboard in choosing our final scheme.
We're pleased to advise that orders totalling almost £33,000 were placed on our behalf by the council!
Installation was scheduled to commence on Monday 18 September with works complete within 2 weeks but see above.
A project we've had on the back-burner for many years
Over the last 20 years Friends of Marple Memorial Park have received a number of requests from the public for outdoor exercise equipment. We made two unsuccessful grant applications for this purpose prior to focusing on the Skatepark Project between 2011 and 2021.
Thanks to our 50-50 Club we were able to continue raising funds for projects in the park throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, with many of our plans on hold due to uncertainty about the impact of the Marple Community Hub scheme (Play Area improvements, Public Toilet Block refurbishment and installation of a Water Fountain), we decided to focus our fundraising efforts on a new outdoor exercise equipment project. By 2022 we had ring-fenced £10k of our own funds raised with the help of the local community.
We've chosen our supplier based on outstanding quality
In 2022 we developed a brief for our proposals and with the support of the council's Neighbourhood Team went out to tender asking 3 potential equipment suppliers what they could provide for budgets of £25k, £30k and £35k. Their bids confirmed that we would need a minimum budget of £25k and ideally at least £30k.
Tenders were carefully analysed and following site visits to view existing outdoor exercise equipment installations across 6 other community parks in the Greater Manchester region, we
chose our preferred supplier to work with, a company called KOMPAN, based on the very high quality of their equipment.
Successful Community Fund-raising!
In 2022 we submitted a 10k grant application to the Stockport Fund hoping to match the money we had raised ourselves. Our application was considered to have great merit but was not awarded. We pressed on with our own fund-raising and by April 2023 we'd managed to ring-fence £24,000 toward this project with the help and support of the Marple Community.
In the spring of 2023 funds were boosted by the award of £1,500 from the Macnair Trust and £1,000 from Marple Area Committee. With Stockport Council also confirming pledges totalling £3,500 we had secured £30,000, the bulk of the funding we needed to bring the project to fruition.
As we homed in on our final scheme during May and June 2023, we learned that we needed an additional £2,928.84 of funding on top of the £30k. This has been covered by an extra £1,000 from Stockport Council and £600 donated to Friends of the Park by Marple Hall School, with the balance contributed by our 2023 Family Treasure Hunt.
The equipment will be located alongside the main path beyond the French Boules Court and towards Garth Road, where users will be able to enjoy the views of the hills of Mellor and beyond.
So where are we now?
Stockport Council placed an order with Kompan for supply and delivery of the Magnetic Bells, the City Bike with Touchscreen and the Combi 5 Street Exercise Station. The total cost of this equipment is £19,808.88 (excluding installation). It is delivered and stored ready for installation.
In May 2023 the council re-tendered for the installation costs following our decision to go with the Combi 5 unit. This came in at £13,119.96, which was £1,494.96 more than we had anticipated. The council has agreed to contribute £1,000 of this shortfall and the 2023 Treasure Hunt can cover the remaining £494.96, meaning we are good to go!
We asked the council to go ahead and place the installation contract, bringing the total cost to £32,928.84.
Installation is scheduled to commence on Monday 18 September with works complete within 2 weeks.
Feedback from the community
In May 2023 we shared details of where we'd got to with the project and asked the community for comments on what we were proposing plus feedback on Core and Upgrade Options.
- Phase I: Core Option: Magnetic Bells + City Bike with touchscreen
- Phase II: Combi 2 but with following options:
- 1. Upgrade to Combi 3 possibly with some extra small equipment.
- 2. Upgrade to Combi 4 possibly with some extra small equipment.
- 3. Upgrade to Combi 5 (extra £1,434* needed).
- 4. Keep Combi 2 and add Arm Bike (approx extra £2,000 needed).
- 5. Keep Combi 2 and add Street Bike (approx extra £3,000 needed).
During the feedback period this page was viewed over 600 times and 22 people submitted comments. There were also 11 positive comments on social media and 89 positive reactions.
During the consultation period the additional cost of the Combi 5 was advised as £500* but unfortunately there was a mistake in the figures and the extra cost is actually £1,434*.
6 of 22 people raised concerns about potential vandalism to the screen on the bike.
In view of this we revisited the two bikes with touchscreens in Werneth Park in Oldham. They were fitted in December 2022 and the screens were still fine.
We also asked Stockport Council to to speak with Oldham Council and Kompan to gain their feedback on these concerns.
Oldham Council advised that they've had no issues with the screens and they are very happy with the equipment – they are currently in the process of ordering more units.
Kompan said that they have never had to replace a screen to date. They also shared a video of one of the screens surviving a brick being dropped on it and explaining that they are made using the same technology as ATM screens (see below).
We felt sufficiently reassured to go ahead with the City Bike with touchscreen.
Although this video features the Cross Trainer, it shows more about the 7" screen that is also fitted to the City Bike:
Option 3: Upgrade to Combi 5 (extra £1,434 required)
By far the most popular option, with 10 out of 22 favouring it, was to upgrade to the Combi 5. The next favourite received 3 out of 22 votes.
It does make sense to go for the biggest and best Street Exercise option, as it would be difficult to upgrade in the future, and we are keen to go with the feedback we received from the local community. The extra funding is available thanks to the 2023 Treasure Hunt and a generous donation from Marple Hall School.
Here are more details of what we've ordered:
Phase I: Magnetic Bells and City Bike with Touchscreen
These are the core items we initially chose to go ahead with. We've tried and tested the triple Magnetic Bells in Cringle Park, Levenshulme. We've also tried out the double Magnetic Bells and the City Bike and Sport Bike with Touchscreens in Werneth Park, Oldham. The quality of this equipment compared to that offered by others is exceptional.
Compact Magnetic Bells
An innovative magnetic breaking system allows the user to increase the resistance by increasing the speed of movement. The patented system also functions as brake when someone drops the magnetic bells and will reduce the impact significantly. The option to choose between two different weights offers a scalable training and it makes the Magnetic Bells an accessible piece of equipment for both the trained and the untrained. The Magnetic bells move freely up and down and can spin 360°. This allows the users to do exercises which are very similar to medicine balls and kettle bell exercises. The Magnetic bells are available in a choice of 3 different weights 6, 9 and 12kg.
City Bike with Touchscreen
The City Bike provides a comfortable and challenging ride for all users. The frame is designed with a low open entry and ergonomics promoting an upright riding style. The saddle is wide to give the most support and is adjustable in 13 heights accommodating people from 150cm to 205cm tall. To motivate users to achieve their goals, this version of the bike features a 7” LCD touchscreen giving instant feedback on speed, distance, cadence, watts, calories burned and time. An innovative self-powered electrical motor (patent pending) creates resistance similar to what you would experience on a real road bike. The resistance automatically adapts depending on pedalling speed, but users can also choose to manually change the resistance on the touchscreen or through a Bluetooth-connected KOMPAN Cardio app.
Phase II: Combi 5 Street Exercise Station
With 10 different workout stations in one, this combination package offers a superior street workout and callisthenics experience. Featuring all the essential elements for users to release their creativity, the dimensions of the pull up bars have been optimized to 32mm for the best possible hand grip. The strength of the bar is secured through a conical design and a full steal bar. The 138cm wide pull up bars are designed to give plenty of space to dynamic exercises and promote sideways exercises such as the typewriter pull up. The wide bars also allow for users to do pull ups next to each other and thereby compete or motivate each other.
We needed £1,434 extra for this option that has been funded by the 2023 Treasure Hunt and a donation from Marple Hall School.
We couldn't find a video specifically featuring the Combi 5 but this one gives you an all-round feel for the equipment:
Thoughts for the future: Phase III?
Once the dust has settled and the new equipment is being used in the park we will gauge the community's enthusiasm for adding more equipment.
We definitely have our eye on an Arm Bike, which is a particularly good item for wheelchair users, and it would be great to get a Cross Trainer, which is the most amazing piece of Outdoor Exercise Equipment we've seen. If you'd like to check one out head over to Werneth Park in Oldham and you'll see what we mean.
The current budget cost of this is around £22,000 but that will no doubt escalate over time.
KOMPAN’s outdoor arm bike machine delivers a powerful cardiovascular workout for beginners and athletes alike. Inspired by indoor gym equipment, the hand bike's arm cycle function replicates the ergonomic pedaling motion found in a traditional push bike.Designed to challenge users of all fitness levels, our innovative arm bicycle can be used seated for an upper body workout or standing to engage all major muscle groups. The KOMPAN hand bike machine has a patented, self-powered resistance unit to provide a smooth, progressive, and adaptable workout. To increase the intensity, users can pedal faster on the arm crank machine or manually adjust the resistance using their mobile device. The built-in Bluetooth within KOMPAN’s arm cardio machine allows users to connect their phone or tablet using our FREE KOMPAN Fit app, turning their device into a fitness monitor where they can alter resistance and track performance. KOMPAN believes that fitness is for everyone, regardless of age or ability. As part of our mission to create healthier and happier communities, we developed the outdoor arm bike machine to be fully inclusive. KOMPAN’s arm bike is easily accessible via wheelchair and provides a great way for users to improve cardiovascular fitness without using their lower body. Installing an arm bike outdoors can help wheelchair users and those with impaired leg mobility feel more included in society by providing a physical activity that specifically caters to their needs.
KOMPAN’s state-of-the-art outdoor elliptical cross trainer is unlike anything currently available on the outdoor fitness market. Developed by our dedicated fitness experts, KOMPAN’s outdoor stationary elliptical delivers an intense yet low-impact cardiovascular workout comparable to what you’d achieve in a traditional indoor gym. The outdoor elliptical exercise machine features a self-powered motor, Polyurea coated handles and large footplates for an ergonomic experience.To accommodate those with varying fitness levels, KOMPAN has included adjustable resistance levels between 45 – 750 watts. The elliptical will naturally adapt the resistance to the user’s speed, but the intensity can also be altered by connecting a mobile device to the outdoor cross trainer machine via Bluetooth. Even the fittest of athletes can achieve an effective cardiovascular workout with KOMPAN’s outdoor cross trainer machine and our special sprint mode delivers an additional layer of challenge. The versatility of KOMPAN’s outdoor elliptical machine makes it a great stationary piece for any outdoor fitness site.
Thanks and acknowledgements
Thank you to the Macnair Trust for supporting this project with an award of £1,500 in March 2023. The Macnair Trust is a local charity created in 1973 by Mrs. Iris Macnair, the widow of Alan Macnair, a prominent member of the Marple community. They support numerous projects and groups in the local area.
Thank you to Marple Area Committee and Marple's Local Councillors for supporting this project with an award of £1,000 in April 2023.
Thank you to Marple Hall School for a donation of £600 to Friends of the Park that we are putting towards this project too.
Thank you to Stockport Council for their pledged contributions of £4,500 towards this project and their ongoing support of all we do for the park.
Thank you to Mike Whittaker for help visiting and assessing existing equipment in 6 community parks across the Manchester region.