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TGO Gyms and community activation: Slough Borough Council

TGO Gyms and community activation with Slough Borough Council

Our activation test-bed – TGO technology, training and communications to drive participation and measure results


The key question:

With TGO Gyms installed in parks across Slough, can TGO help Slough Borough Council to design, deliver and measure an activation model?

TGO-Gyms-Salt-Hill-Park-Slough


The heart of the challenge:

Between 2016 and 2018, Slough Borough Council commissions TGO to build 20 outdoor gyms. We design Slough’s free outdoor fitness spaces to be inclusive and family-friendly, catering for beginners through to fitness elites. Once installed, the TGO Gyms are received enthusiastically – anecdotally, we know local people are embracing their outdoor gyms.

TGO-Gyms-Slough

But how can we measure participation scientifically? And what more can we do to activate Slough’s network of TGO Gyms? We want to inspire even the most inactive and hard-to-reach groups to get involved – as we know there are high levels of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in Slough.

 

TGO’s answer:

By 2018, TGO have developed brand new Smart Gym equipment, unique technology installed within TGO Energy kit that measures hits and energy generation. We’re also developing the TGO Activate App. We’re keen to test these technologies in live sites. We also have some ideas up our sleeve to empower local people with the skills to lead inclusive and family-friendly workouts.

Working closely with Slough Borough Council, TGO pilots a brand new activation model. Our strategy includes:

1. Integrating TGO’s smart technology and developing the online dashboard

On October 8th 2018, we install TGO smart technology at the TGO Gym in Salt Hill Park in Slough, to provide a quantitative measure of hits and energy generation. The data is collected by scanning the equipment, which transfers the hits and kilowatt hours to an online dashboard.

TGO-Activate-App-Dashboard

By December 22nd, the gym has recorded 3411 hits on the TGO Smart Energy hand bike. Over 12 weeks, this equates to 284 users per week on this piece of equipment alone.

During the testing phase, we make changes to our online dashboard to improve the presentation of the data. For example, we add a graph to show the peaks and troughs in hits, so that usage trends can be spotted more easily.

The system proves itself to provide clear quantitative measures with reporting functions that offer unique snapshots to TGO Gym owners.  
TGO-Gyms-Salt-Hill-Park-Slough-Hand-Bike
 

2. Developing two bespoke qualifications relating to the activation of inactive people on TGO Gyms

TGO-Gyms-Community-Training-Big-Community-WorkoutBetween July and December 2018, TGO develop two training courses (accredited by Active IQ). The Big Community Workout Leaders course relates to the activation of inactive people on TGO outdoor gyms – there is a two-day course for people with little previous experience and a one-day course for people who already have a level 2 personal training qualification.

Both courses focus around the delivery of The Big Community Workout (BCW), designed to be inclusive, family-friendly and fun. The BCW is a 30-minute session that offers a warm up, lower body, core and upper body workout, then a whole body stretch at the end. For beginners to exercise, the session ensures they aren’t pushed beyond their capabilities. For fit people, the session offers as much challenge as they want. We end the BCW with an active litter pick to help clean up the park – boosting wellbeing, social connection and community spirit.

The main objective of the Big Community Workout Leaders course is to empower the community to sustain regular and effective activity, making the experience on TGO gyms inclusive and non-threatening to the target groups.  
TGO-Slough-Community-Training-Big-Community-Workout

3. Recruiting and training local people as Big Community Workout Leaders

TGO create a recruitment video featuring Marvin Ambrosius from Sky TV’s Fit in 5. We also devise a simple online application form. Then we promote the video and application form on social media, via the council networks and on Indeed.

TGO-Gyms-Community-Training-Recruitment-VideoTGO-Gyms-Community-Training-Online-Application

We set up interview days to select candidates for training. Over two recruitment rounds, we select 9 people to train as Big Community Workout Leaders. The successful candidates bring excellent personal qualities and diverse skillsets including:

  • Sabeena – a Maths teacher at a local secondary school and a Mum. Sabeena is already a big advocate of the outdoor gyms, having seen firsthand how the network of TGO Gyms are increasing physical activity and community cohesion. She’s a great communicator and is well connected in her community, using WhatsApp to spread the word about Big Community Workouts. In this video, Sabeena talks about the impact in her community of the activation programme.

  • Lea – positive, motivated, a great communicator in person and on social media. Lea is 42 and has stage 4 cancer. She is determined to stay active and inspire others to do the same.
     
  • Mohammed – recently moved to England from Iraq, Mohamed has previous experience in boxing. He more than makes up for the language barrier by spreading the word to family and friends, encouraging participation with Big Community Workout sessions.
     
  • Shree – enthusiastic, works for Everyone Active, brings fresh ideas. Shree provides a great link into the local leisure centre, giving the opportunity to cross sell (targeting soft play attendees, for example, including families from BAME communities). Shree brings energy and fun to the group, flyering and putting up a stand in the leisure centre, dressing up as Olaf for kids and offering creative suggestions for social media promotion.

In our 12 week testing period, the Big Community Workout at Salt Hill Park is delivered 11 times (Saturday mornings at 10am). Led by the newly trained local activators, the sessions average over 30 attendees each week (mainly repeat visitors). The majority of the uptake is from the BAME community. Regular attendees include family groups who bring their children. Participant ages range from 5 to a couple in their late 70s. At least one participant has diabetes and is obese.

TGO-Gyms-Slough-Big-Community-Workout


4. Testing the TGO Activate App

The TGO Activate App enables gym users to locate their TGO Gym, discover their equipment, record their activity, track their wellbeing and find out about community events. We offer the TGO Activate App as a free download with in-built technology to make using the gyms more fun – such as scannable QR codes on every piece of equipment, to log and track workouts.

TGO-Activate-AppWe test the TGO Activate App in Slough with a small pilot group, aiming to strike the right balance between user experience and data. For example, we learn that if you ask too many questions when users first download the App, this can be off-putting. We record basic demographics – including age, gender, ethnicity – but then make the user experience focused entirely around driving up physical activity, boosting wellbeing and improving community connection. The App starts to bring in helpful insights on how the TGO Gyms are being used, which are the most popular pieces of equipment, how many minutes of activity people are doing per week and how they are feeling.

 

Feedback from Slough Borough Council and Public Health Slough:

Alison Hibbert, Leisure Services Manger at Slough Borough Council, says:

“The Great Outdoor Gym Company (TGO) has been instrumental in developing and improving the local offer in our parks and open spaces with a network of green gyms and MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) developments. The green gyms have been a major success with residents and there are further plans to expand the network over the next three years so that anyone living in Slough is within a twenty minute walk of their nearest gym.

“Their popularity is due to the enormous effort of TGO and the council, working together with local people to identify the very best equipment for their needs. The quality of the equipment is exceptional too.

“However, it is not just a case of ‘build it and they will come’. There has been a real collaborative approach to engaging people to recognise the importance of regular activity in their everyday lives. With a series of induction sessions held at various sites across the borough, we were keen to get more people to use the facilities more regularly, particularly those who had no experience of going to the gym or using kit of this type. Whilst this was successful, TGO and the council recognised there was more scope for use.

“Following up on this came the concept for the ‘Big Community Workout’. TGO piloted their concept in one of the most deprived areas in the Slough, Chalvey, and have taken local people and trained them up as ‘community activators’, giving their time back to the community and advocating the benefits of healthier, more active lifestyles.

“In addition to this, TGO have installed smart technology at this site, along with the promotion of an activity App, so that people can exercise at these free, accessible facilities at any time of the day. Numbers of participants are increasing week on week and in 2019 TGO will be delivering another pilot of the Big Community Workout in another area of high inactivity and deprivation in the town. The support of TGO in this process, in particular Georgie Delaney, has been instrumental in the popularity of these green gyms. I am certain they are playing a key role in addressing the inactivity issues in Slough positively.”

TGO-Slough-Community-Training-Big-Community-Workout
Timothy Howells, Public Health Programme Officer, Public Health Slough says:

“There are significant health inequalities in Slough’s diverse population. For example, the prevalence of obesity among children at age 10/11 (41.6%) remains statistically above national rates (34.3%) and there are high levels of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in our adult population. We know that keeping active plays a significant role in maintaining and improving people’s health and wellbeing and while we understand measuring this in real terms is difficult, levels of activity in Slough are low while levels of inactivity are high. 36.0% of adults are classified as inactive (England 25.2%) and 61.9% of adults are classified as overweight or obese (England 61.3%)

“Creating and developing a unique leisure offer which incorporates the opportunity of taking part in something that is free or low cost and something that is easily accessible and embedded in the local community is key to help overcome this inactivity crisis. Working on developing programmes like the outdoor gyms and the Big Community Workout (BCW) are vital to being able to promote something different to the local community and create a sense of cohesion around a local asset. This programme fits neatly into our new “Slough in Motion” physical activity referral scheme and the wider social prescription work that the Slough Council for Voluntary Services (SCVS) deliver.”
 

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  Case Studies
  02 April 2020

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