MP Nicholas Soames was among those getting to grips with a new outdoor gym in Haywards Heath.

The innovative all weather “green gym” was officially opened at Barn Cottage Green, in Bentswood, Haywards Heath on Tuesday 3 April 2012 at 11am.

The gym, next to the recently redeveloped Wilmington Way development, was installed thanks to land being donated by Mid Sussex District Council and £18,000 worth of funding from Affinity Sutton.  It is the first outdoor gym that the housing group has funded nationally.

Equipment at the gym includes shoulder press/lat pull down, a bench, leg raise dips, hand bike, leg press and cross trainer.

MP Nicholas Soames praised Affinity Sutton’s imagination and enlightenment in delivering the gym saying, “Taking exercise is worthwhile and you are prepared to make these opportunities available to your customers as part of the healthy living ideals you believe in.”

Mr Soames was joined by the Mayor of Haywards Heath Councillor John Sabin, Councillor Mandy Thomas-Atkin, Chairman of Mid Sussex District Council and praised the partnership between Affinity Sutton and the Council.

He said:  “With Affinity Sutton providing the equipment and the District Council providing the land it is a great example of a partnership.”

The equipment, which will be free to use in the open air, is available 24 hours a day and is safe for all ages to boost their health and fitness.  Residents were given a demonstration on how to use the equipment from Freedom Leisure and there was also be a giant human table football, bouncy castle and free smoothies.

Matt Parsonage, Head of Neighbourhood Investment for Affinity Sutton, said:  “As a business for social purpose we are committed to helping to maximise life chances for our residents.  We are delighted to fund the new outdoor gym which we hope will give local residents the chance to get into shape for free.”

“I warmly welcome the introduction of this new equipment because taking regular exercise is so important to our health and wellbeing,” said Councillor Mandy Thomas-Atkin, Chairman of Mid Sussex District Council. “This new fitness equipment is located at the heart of the community and I hope it becomes a focal point for people to catch up and exercise together.

“In many ways this is better than a traditional gym. It’s completely free and open to everyone but best of all residents can use this equipment out in the open; breathing in fresh air while they exercise.”

Matt Delaney, Managing Director of The Great Outdoor Gym Company, who supplied the equipment, said:  “Independent research proves that TGO outdoor gyms raise sports participation amongst both the active and the previously inactive, by removing barriers to exercise such as accessibility and cost. There is also strong evidence available of the health benefits of exercising in the fresh air.”