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Street-cred for open-air gym

PUBLISHED: 17:19 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 23 August 2010

FLIPPIN' HECK: Dancers in action

FLIPPIN' HECK: Dancers in action

DANCERS, athletes and budding young sportsmen have helped launch a £143,000 open-air gym. The AdiZone, one of only nine nationwide and the only one outside London in the South East, was officially opened on Friday by paralympian sprinter John McFall and

DANCERS, athletes and budding young sportsmen have helped launch a £143,000 open-air gym.

The AdiZone, one of only nine nationwide and the only one outside London in the South East, was officially opened on Friday by paralympian sprinter John McFall and Gravesham Young Ambassador Aaron Farnell, following demonstrations by a range of the borough's most talented youngsters.

Installed as part of the £2million Gravesham Borough Council scheme to upgrade the promenade and canal, the AdiZone, sponsored by sporting brand Adidas, is part of the council's Go Gravesham campaign to encourage the borough to connect with the London 2012 Olympics.

The 625 square metre area is free to use 365 days a year and includes an open space for dance, basketball hoops, and a collection of weights and exercise machines.

Mr McFall, who picked up a bronze medal at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 in the 100m for men with above the knee amputations, cut the ribbon.

"The Olympics and Paralympics, in terms of competing, will only touch a very small minority of people so it is important that these kinds of things are here to allow other people to get in the spirit. I don't know if it is the climate, but in Britain we don't have many facilities such as this.

"In China and also North America you see many such areas and I think it is fantastic to have a place where people can engage in sport any time."

Performances were put in by top gymnastics club Meapa, Bollywood dancers from the Saheli Writers, a tai chi demonstration, basketball players from North Kent College, Gravesham Free Runners and street dancers True Kaizen

Mr Farnell, 19, has been a Young Ambassador, promoting sport, for two years.

He said: "This helps our cause a lot because before it was just a concrete area, but now has all the proper facilities.

"It is just amazing. Now it here we can tell people about it and try to encourage people to come down and get involved."

Melanie Norris, director of communities for the council explained that the AdiZone would be regularly maintained through the council budget, but expected it to be protected by the users.

"What we have seen from the zones in London, which have been there for two years is they are used so frequently they become self-policing and the young people make it their own," she said.

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