Work begins on outdoor gym at Sanquhar, Forres for use by Forres Academy and the wider community
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
An outdoor gym that is free for the public to use is being installed outside Forres Academy.
Eight design options for the scheme went on show in June and the community voted for their favourite - work has started on the resultant KOMPAN gym next to the long jump pit behind Forres Academy, opposite Sanquhar pond car park.
Recently-retired principal teacher of Home Economics, Ann Rossiter, spearheaded the fundraising campaign as chairwoman of Forres Community Sports Hub. Ms Rossiter started the business plan and research for the facility when she was sports co-ordinator at Forres Academy.
She said: “I’m really pleased to see work getting underway. It’s a great design and will be well used.
“Grateful thanks must be given to the conscientious team from Moray Council who have supported and guided us through this process. The local authority will take on maintenance and inspections of the equipment.”
The 2014 'Spirit of Community' consultation in Forres identified a need for an outdoor sports facility, mentioning an outdoor gym specifically. The Forres 2020 Vision project, also community-led, then identified a need for an outdoor gym.
Forres Community Council, Forres Community Sports Hub and Moray Council have since played roles in its development.
Forres Community Sports Hub worked with Forres Community Council to secure the necessary funding. The majority of the required £72,000 came from the Berry Burn Community Fund, which committed £45,000. A further £4000 was donated through the Money for Moray participatory budgeting process, topping up the £23,000 raised by the community.
Ms Rossiter said: "Partnership working increases opportunities to develop initiatives and projects, providing further opportunities to work with key people in the community."
She added: "It has taken a while to get to this stage but we sincerely hope that it has been time well spent."
The gym design includes multi-station, multi-user pieces offering a full body workout, plus seats and shelters. An arm bike will give cardiovascular training to those with less lower-body mobility. It will be accessible from the seat, or from a standing position, as well as from a wheelchair.
Magnetic bells will give users two weights at different strength levels, with exercise boards showing options, from easy to hard. There will also be strength and resistance training options, while a free downloadable app will act like a virtual personal trainer, helping gym users to progress.
Moray Council leader Kathleen Robertson, who helped progress the scheme in her previous role as chair of Forres Community Council, is thrilled many hours of completing funding application forms has come to fruition.
She said: "It is a joy to seeing the project come alive. Collaboration between the community council and sports hub will provide an exciting resource for our community.”
The gym will not be moved when the new Forres Academy is built.
"This has been built into the agreement we have with Moray Council," said Ms Rossiter. "Both Forres Community Council and Forres Community Sports Hub have signed it."
And ongoing maintenance will be provided by the local authority.
Ms Rossiter explained: "Moray Council has agreed to support the monthly maintenance but funding will also be sought from local sources, including the users, in case of major replacement or repair."
"Forres Community Sports Hub has already raised some funds for this. We are also discussing the best social media platform to promote the gym and its usage while encouraging donations to a ‘GoFundMe’ page."
She finished: "The project has taken longer than we had first anticipated so we thank our main funder Berry Burn for their understanding.
"The work should be complete in the week commencing November 20 when site inspections will be carried out. We are planning for an official opening on December 1 at 1pm."