Fitness for Free in the Fresh Air
11 December 2019 | Scotland
Inspirational Scot who won a Pride of Sport award delivers again
This time last year Ali Hay returned to his hometown of Kelso, proudly clutching a silver trophy for his determination to help children in his local community have fun while keeping fit.
The inspirational Scot was honoured at The Mirror’s Pride of Sport Awards 2018, in partnership with TSB, when he collected the TSB Community Partner award after he practically single-handedly raised the funds and went on to design and create a state-of-the-art skate park.
Ali was one of several to be recognised as unsung heroes of grassroots sports at the event hosted by TV star Ben Shephard at London’s Grosvenor House.
But Ali, 31, isn’t one to rest on his laurels and since then has been busy with his next project. The skate park was such a huge hit, that Ali decided he wanted to extend fitness opportunities to all ages in his community. And with support from TSB, he was able to bring his next plan to action. He designed, sourced, and this month opened an innovative £10,000 outdoor fitness zone, near to the skate park, that can be used by young and old alike.
“Lots of people got in touch after I had won the award, and it got me thinking that I could do more, especially now I had some funding thanks to TSB,” explains Ali. “The park now has a skate park, and there is also cricket and hockey facilities and I thought a new outdoor fitness zone would perfectly compliment that. The council had recently also rebuilt the children’s playpark.
“The new fitness zone - which is next to the playpark - means that while children play, their parents or carers can go and do some exercise while still keeping at eye out on them. It’s outdoors, and importantly, free to use which is great for those who can’t afford a gym membership.
“It’s really important that kids see their family exercising, it’s a very positive message.” The fitness zone allows for a full bodyweight session, with pull up bars, dip bars for a tricep workout, monkey bars, press up bars and a sit-up bench. The entire area has also been resurfaced with rubber matting.
The second part of Ali’s vision was to encourage older people to get fit. The park is bordered by two care homes and a retirement facility. While two-thirds of the path around the park was resurfaced thanks to the council and skate park development, there was still a swathe that was uneven and disjointed, making it difficult for the elderly to navigate especially those with sticks or frames.
“The older community love to see the youngsters out playing, or like to use the park to get a bit of fresh air. We wanted to encourage them to use the entirety of the park and try and get fit doing so. So as well as resurfacing the last bit, we are painting a ‘start point’ and marking out every 50 metres, 100 metres and so on, to show people the actual distance covered. We are also placing signs giving a birds eye view of the circuit and explaining the amount of calories lost at each point they reach. Not everyone can afford smart gadgets that give you this kind of information.
“Hopefully it will trigger a response in people to try and go a little further every time and eventually do the full circuit.”
Ali continues to fight to make his community stronger all while juggling two businesses and two young sons. He also has chronic asthma and is an ambassador for Asthma UK. Ali, also goes by the name Bearded Ninja after reaching the final of ITV’s Ninja Warrior three times.
“It’s been a fantastic year. The experience of designing and building the skate park showed me that anything is possible and just made me want to do more to help people.”