- The latest workout craze has everyone testing their strength on the beachside chin-up bars, and it’s for all ages. By Ian Lloyd Neubauer
From Cottesloe Beach in Perth to the Minnippi Parklands in Brisbane and Melbourne’s St Kilda, councils around Australia are investing in their residents’ health with free outdoor gyms.
The concept has its roots in Muscle Beach of Santa Monica, California, the world’s most famous outdoor gym, though Australia also has a “Muscle Beach” of its own.
For the past 15 years, the outdoor gym on the northern end of Bondi Beach in Sydney has attracted a steady stream of locals and tourists who randomly drop in to test their mettle on the chin-up bars, do some stomach crunches or crank out a few dips. But in recent years the facilities had become increasingly weatherworn, more suitable to a correctional institution than the boardwalk of Australia’s most visited beach.
Last summer the local council took note and funded, together with the local Rotary Club and the NSW Government, 12 new pieces of training equipment as part of a $ 220,000 facelift. The outdoor gym at North Bondi is more popular than ever and sparked a new beachfront fitness movement: a clique of exceptionally well-toned gymnasts, acrobats and athletes who swing like monkeys from bar to bar, form human pyramids on the ground and pull off seemingly impossible feats of strengths, such as the “human flag”.
Then there’s the Bondi Beach Bar Brutes and their energy is contagious – particularly on the first Sunday of every month when they come together for mini circuses that are inspiring passers-by to try their hand at high-intensity, low-tech body weight exercises.