Fitness is all the rage in Barnard Park. Fitness enthusiasts singly or in groups are running, power walking, sprinting, and doing training exercises throughout the park. The football pitch is a poplar venue for fitness with people seen almost all day running and training. Most people follow their own regime which can range from a determined walk to serious sprints.
There are also trainers who work in the park. Paul Appoh is a freelance personal trainer who works with local residents often in the playground. Paul, once a club level sprinter until a back injury ended his ambitions, lives off the Caledonian Road. Paul is adamant that the playground should be safe and clean for children. ‘Can you believe that people leave bottles and trash in the playground?,’ says Paul. His daughter Claudia, now seven, helped plant up the playground sandpit with the Friends of the Park.
Paul believes that exercise plays a vital role in life and that it results in different behaviour. Paul makes a living by private training but he is also interested in the community and the role that fitness can play in the lives of young people. ‘Children seven or eight need to get in the habit of exercise,’ Paul believes. ‘It’s better to be outside moving around than being at home all the time watching the television or doing the computer.’ Paul’s presence in the playground in the early evening provides security. He has been know to set sprints for teenagers to diffuse edgy encounters.