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Cookham's Free Outdoor Gym Day

(posted 20 July 2012)


Around 25 people attended the two free sessions that were held at the Alfred Major Recreation Ground on Wednesday 18th July. The event was organised by local journalist, Sarah Parfitt and participants included, Councillor Janet Palmer and her son, Matthew, children’s writer, Charles Luxford, Dr Paul Layng and his son, Benjamin, Alexandra Revez and her two colleagues from the Crown Pub, Kobi Grossman from Splash Car Wash, and Cookham Running Club members, Kate Durham, Jacqui Bird and Joy Strzelecki.


There were two hour-long, free training sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening and both were run by experienced personal trainer, Hubert H Clarke. He showed people how to use the gym equipment and also introduced people to Boxercise and some additional gym equipment which he brought along.


Runners‘ Retreat in Marlow and Gatorade sponsored the event and provided free drinks and gels.

Everyone who was involved in the event "donated" their time and the aim was to encourage the local community to "ditch the car" and use the outdoor gym. Media coverage included, Time 106.6 and Marlow FM and articles in local newspapers.


Several people who came along are now keen to start showing other locals how to use the outdoor gym. One of them is Alexandra Revez from the Crown in Cookham. She is going to set up a small training group and everyone is welcome to join in. If you are interested, please just contact her directly: – mob: 07825001989. Kate Durham from Cookham Running Club hopes to organise a Club session for members too.

 "My main aim with these sessions was to encourage people to use the resources which they have on their own doorstep and just to have fun," said organiser, Sarah Parfitt. "Perhaps a Cookham-based business could fund another session with Hubert later in the year to keep the momentum going?“

 "It would also be excellent if a local company wanted to fund some additional equipment for the outdoor gym, such as boxing gloves or skipping ropes, so we could get even more use out of the outdoor gym,"  she said . "We just need to find a place to store the equipment where everyone in the community would have access to it – perhaps the Parish Council offices? People could then sign in and out for it." If anyone is keen to discuss this idea, contact Sarah Parfitt – or mob: 07900 4117 15.




Organiser, Sarah Parfitt: "Hubert’s the sort of personal trainer everyone should have – he is extremely motivational and has an infectious sense of humour, so this inspired everyone at our outdoor gym sessions. He let everyone work out at their own level. I am grateful to Hubert and also to Brian Bower from Runners‘ Retreat in Marlow for making this event possible. A big thank you too to everyone who came and took part in the sessions.“

Children’s writer, Charles Luxford said: "It was a fun workout on a damp summer’s morning. I just wish I had the self-discipline to do it every day!“

Councillor Janet Palmer said: "I felt really energised by the session! Being older than most of the participants was not a problem at all and Matthew wanted to go back for more this evening .We will now be using the outdoor gym with confidence !“

Alexandra Revez (22) who is customer service advisor at the Crown said: "There are not enough hours in the day for me to drive to a gym, so having the outside gym 5 minutes' walk from my house is perfect! I usually run around Alfred Major twice a day, but find that it's not enough of a work out for me- I've recently tried using the outdoor gym but wasn't entirely sure what I was doing. I found the information posts for each section really helpful, but attending the gym session with Hubert today really helped me and my friends Kate (Kate Roberts-Smith) and Rachel (Rachael Aldridge) to understand how to get the best results from the equipment. I'd love to get a group together to start using it on a regular basis as I'm sure others find it quite intimidating, but it's easy once you know how!“


The outdoor gym at the Alfred Major Recreation Ground was built in 2008 by the Parish Council. The person who coordinated the project was Janet Wheeler who was the Parish Clerk. She has since moved from Cookham and is now Town Clerk at Amersham.

 Hubert H Clarke has been a personal trainer since he qualified in March 2000, but he has been interested in fitness since he was 14. His role models are his elder brothers, who are both involved in the fitness industry.

Hubert launched Wycombe bootcamps in September 2008 and his business has burgeoned since then. He now runs 12 bootcamps around Buckinghamshire

Hubert likes the diverse range of people he meets when he is doing the bootcamps and the fact that exercise can change their lives.

Mob: 0793 903 7672



Sarah Parfitt, journalist and mother of two:
“I often take my kids to the play area at the Alfred Major Recreation Ground, and never see anyone using the outdoor gym, which I feel is a great shame and such a wasted resource. It would be fantastic to see more people using it, especially over the summer - it’s a way of saving time, money and the environment if you live in Cookham as otherwise you have to drive to Maidenhead or Marlow to the gym.”

Liz Kwantes,
“I am very happy to hear that Hubert will be able to run a training course on the outdoor equipment. We have an excellent facility on Alfred Major. So far it has been under-used as it seems people are nervous to go on the equipment by themselves as they are not sure what to do, although each item does have instructions with it. Also it is possible a lot of Cookham residents may not be aware that we have such a fantastic facility on our doorstep. I hope that when people become aware of the outdoor gym, they will make use of it with their friends. “

Hubert H Clarke
Why did you decide to lead the Outdoor gym?
“ I wanted to help people and give something back. Training is important to me because of the feeling it gives me. It makes me feel alive and as though I can achieve anything. Whether I come first or last at something, the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction is priceless. Outdoor training is a great on so many levels - fresh air (and sunshine!), being outside, and it’s free, so no one is excluded. Anyone with any level of fitness can do it and it doesn’t matter what age you are. These events will be great community events.”

Brian Bower at Runners’ Retreat, Marlow (sponsoring the event)
"Using muscles and bones regularly stimulates strength and reduces weakness - use it or lose it! Matt and Brian at Runners' Retreat believe that outdoor gyms and running are great ways of staying healthy and keeping mobile."

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