News | 11 October 2022

Pōneke’s first purpose-built community Calisthenics park

For the last few years, the Wellington Calisthenics community have been using the Pirie Street play area by the Mount Victoria tunnel as their main, and only, outdoor training location in the city.

Man dangling from monkey bars.
Member of the Wellington Calisthenics community trying out the new park.

Though it was first and foremost known as playground, the equipment available made it a dual purpose spot for adult training.  

A Calisthenics workout focuses on using body weight, with little to no equipment, but is elevated by the use of built-in structures such as parallel bars.   

When the playground came up for renewal in 2021, Wellington City Council noticed that the only Calisthenics friendly area in the city would be taken away. 

Alexi Trenouth, Play and Active Recreation Partnership Lead at Wellington City Council, began working closely with the community to understand what they needed to continue training in the city. 

“Lots of big cities have dedicated Calisthenics parks but Wellington doesn’t, and we have such a big community here," says Alexi.

This gave way to an opportunity for the Council to work with the community to secure funding for the park, and to take part in the design process to make sure it would be purpose-built for use, adds Alexi. 

“Wellington Calisthenics said they’d like a space for themselves, because the issue with it being in a playground is they feel like they’re displacing kids and not legitimately allowed to be there.

“They wanted a simple set up with monkey bars, parallel bars and soft surfacing around it, which makes it safe.”

Woman standing on bars at a park.

Now, the first ever Calisthenics park has come to life next to the renewed Pirie Street Play area.

Not only will it provide a space for the Calisthenics community, the free outdoor area can be used by a range of people, such as LeisureCard members and groups that prefer unstructured sport. 

The latest Active NZ 2021 Survey from Sport New Zealand showed that there has been a strong increase in unstructured and informal ways of keeping fit – from Parkour, to Skateboarding and unstructured Basketball. 

“Informal ways of recreating has become really popular because they can be done where ever and whenever you want, and you don’t need uniforms or referees that the more formal sports require. There’s been a real increase the participation in informal ways of keeping fit," says Alexi. 

“This area is super simple – you don’t need equipment, it’s free and open to everybody. People often think of Calisthenics as Muscle Beach in California, but it has a really diverse following here in Wellington. We can’t provide everything for everyone, but our aim is to provide something for everyone – and this is a great example of a community coming together and working with us to get just that.”

Instructions for the calisthenics park.
Instructions on how the equipment can be used.

The Wellington Calisthenics community is humming and ready to begin in their new space, says group member Kadri Uljas.

“Now we have a place in the centre of the city so people can come from anywhere to use it. It opens up new opportunities because it’s fit for adults to use, we aren’t taking over the playground, we can have multiple people exercising at once with equipment that people can use to level up."

Kadri wants people to know that Calisthenics is open for everyone, and they encourage people to come along and give it a go.

“The beauty of the training style is you can do it without any kind of expensive gear. You don’t need trainers, you just need your body. It’s super accessible and people often find it intimidating because you think you need to jump to things like pull ups. 

“It’s not what it seems. It’s never too late or too early to start. We have people joining from different life stages. Anyone can do amazing things if they try.”

To check out the new park and join in group sessions, visit the Wellington Calisthenics Facebook group.