Text by Charlotte Walters @cmwalters3
Photos by Jørn Tomter @jorntomter

Why did you build a gym in your garden?
I grew up in Ghana, West Africa, where it’s always warm – so everyone always exercises outside. But when I moved to the UK nine years ago, I soon realised the weather isn’t always on your side to do that..!
But on a particularly hot day one summer, I saw a picture on Facebook of someone’s outdoor gym in Ghana. It looked so cool, I wanted it for myself – so I reasoned ‘maybe this can be done here, in the summer months!’

What are the benefits of exercising outside?
Everybody deserves to exercise outside. Apart from the obvious benefits of fresh air, it’s so much more fun! It feels less like a chore and more empowering because you feel at one with nature. It’s also really nice when your neighbours pass you and say hi – I love the community atmosphere that comes with being outdoors.

How often do you use your outdoor gym?
I use it to train myself every single day. As a PT, you have to practise what you preach! So it’s a great way for me to keep myself in shape whilst looking after my three kids aged 11, 7 and 2. I’ll be kickboxing whilst keeping an eye on them in the living room!
And my personal clients love it too – they’re cooped up in offices most days, so the change of scene is great. But most of my kit is portable so we also go to one of many parks in the area – I let them decide where they want to train and we do it.

What inspired you to get into fitness?
Back in Ghana I did kick-boxing regularly – I was a fighter too. But when I moved here I started off working in shipping, and I was looking for ways to train. I started working out in Pedro Youth Club and the owner was struggling to manage the club alone. So I thought – why don’t I give young people kick boxing lessons? We had weekly sessions, which turned into wider sports and personal training sessions, and my client list grew from there. Now I train corporate businesses like Google, WeWork and Trip Advisor. It’s amazing that something I used to do for fun has become my career, and I get paid for it!

Wow – those are big names! How do you fit it all in?!
The great thing about being freelance is that you manage your own workload. But no matter how many corporates I work with, I’ll never neglect my personal clients. That would be a huge mistake! I work with charities too, like Catch 22 and New Horizon, training at-risk kids who’ve had problems with the school system or even facing homelessness. It’s so fulfilling to see how they progress both physically and mentally, just from starting to do exercise. And you know it works both ways – they’re amazing, bright kids. You learn just as much from them as they do from you.

Back to the neighbourhood – what do you like about living on Chatsworth Road?
Definitely the space. As soon as you walk out of the house and head towards the parks, you feel so peaceful. It’s almost as though you’re outside of London! We all lead such crazy hectic lives, it’s so important to take a step back – and here you can.

Finally – any last minute tips for staying fit in the festive season?
Yes! The easiest thing you can do to keep on top of your fitness: every morning, do 100 jumping jacks and then 30 sit-ups – just make sure you can balance your legs under a chair or a bed and breathe deeply! Exercising in the morning is vital because it sets you up for the day. If you exercise in the morning, you’ll be burning calories for the rest of the day.

More fitness stories from issue 8:
Dani Blair
Fairground Outdoor Fitness