Where To Workout: Knockhill Park, Renfrew

Regular reader's of this blog page might not quite believe me, but the workout location I am about to write about is not a new installation. Unbelievably, this location has been under my nose since before my first quest to find a pull up bar back in May last year! I give you, Knockhill Park, in Renfrew.

OK, so I have heard of Knockhill Park before...but unfortunately not for the best reasons. Late last year I saw a local newspaper report stating that a childrens' play area had been set on fire by a couple of arsonists.

According to a news report published by the Paisley Gazette, "HEARTBROKEN children were left in tears after discovering yobs set fire to their beloved £1m playpark.

Knockhill Park in Renfrew, revamped thanks to a grant by the Big Lottery Fund in August this year [2015], was targeted in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Police are to investigate the callous incident which saw a wheely bin set alight in the park, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage".

Googling 'Knockhill Park Renfrew fire' would take you to a whole host of other national media articles discussing previous instances of a similar crime. Clearly, there is a desperate issue with anti-social behaviour in the areas surrounding Knockhill Park.

So once again Knockhill Park has had an expensive revamp, with the addition of even more fitness equipment. I say even more because throughout my year long quest to find the perfect pull-up bar in Renfrewshire and Glasgow, there was one sitting up at the top of Knockhill Park, barely one mile from my house as the crow flies! I'm stunned.

In fairness, it's an area of Renfrew I have never been to and previously had no need to, but I guess now I'll be there two or three days a week to workout! This is a huge development for me.

As you can just about see from the images here the main path through the centre of the park has seen a nice new line of basic fitness equipment installed next to it.

From a calisthenics perspective, this set of parallel bar handles [pictured left] is the most relevant piece of equipment for performing a range of bodyweight movements (eg. dip's and leg raises).

The rest of the new equipment is very similar to the equipment found at Barshaw Park and Bellahouston Park; a good starting point for people who are new to physical activity and don't want to pay a few hundred pounds a year for a gym!

Around the exterior of the park are four items of more challenging exercise equipment, alongside a small running path; this includes monkey bars, a sit-up's station, parallel bars and of course, the pull-up bar's!

Finally, I have found a pull-up bar that is full size, a decent handwidth, isn't wonky and is perfectly accessible to anyone... Hallelujah! I still can't quite believe it!

The only weakness I could throw at it is that the anti-rust paint that has been used to protect the bars really does not contribute to a good grip, but that's me being picky. My grip strength will have to improve to counter that.

I have had many email discussions with local MP's, Councillors and Renfrewshire Leisure employees, and no one has ever told me about the facilities already installed at Knockhill Park. It almost seems as if the governing bodies barely know what they're installing and where?

Knockhill Park is supported by a local community group who call themselves the Friends of Knockhill Park. These guys look to be doing an amazing job for the community and hopefully Renfrewshire Calisthenics can grow in to group that can make a similarly effective positive contribution to Renfrew and beyond.

As well as the pull-up bars there are now two parallel dip stations available, but I'm not sure I'll be using the original parallel bar, found near the park's main entrance.

As I approached this piece of equipment the stench of dog urine was quite strong and it seems that being the piece of equipment most accessible to rows of housing is no positive. Clearly, inconsiderate dog owners are allowing their dogs to treat this piece of exercise equipment like a toilet on a regular basis. Personally, this is inexcusable and a real insult to the hard work put in by the Friends of Knockhill Park and wider community in general.

Even the new equipment at the centre of the park appears to be vulnerable to this form of anti-social behaviour. Upon entering the park an early morning dog walker was allowing their dog to urinate on the newly installed equipment right in front of me. I know dogs need urinate, but seriously, letting them do it on equipment that is installed to help people make a positive difference to their health!? Dog urine won't benefit anyone's health - have some respect.

Sorry, that's more than enough of the toilet talk, but, it really frustrates me.

Moving on, the original parallel bars pictured above come with an instructive sign that really tickled me at 6:45 AM!

According to the sign [pictured right] these parallel bars are for 'Swinging' - no jokes please!

"Swing your legs between the bars while supporting your upper body with your arms to strengthen your arm and shoulder muscles..."

There are many, many ways to use parallel bars to strengthen the upper body. 'Swinging' was never something I'd considered before (seriously, no jokes!) but I'll bear it in mind...

Overall, Knockhill Park looks fantastic with its new equipment and I would urge everyone with an interest in calisthenics/bodyweight training, or anyone wanting to start exercising, to go down and have some fun using all the equipment.

As far as Renfrewshire Calisthenics is concerned, and now that some excellent (one year old) bodyweight equipment has been discovered right under my nose, it seems a good time to evaluate whether or not there is a need for Renfrewshire Calisthencis, and this blog, to continue to exist?

I've met some cool people in the past year, people that I wouldn't have ever met if it weren't for a similar interest in calisthenics, and working out without having to pay for it! So a part of me would like that to continue.

Also, I've often wondered what sort of contribution I could make to the community, through highlighting the benefits of physical activity and calisthenics specifically. When you consider the serious issue Renfrew and Renfrewshire seems to have with anti-social behaviour, progressive calisthenics could play a huge role in helping young people have something to work towards and make a more positive contribution to society and their local community.

I gain my level 2 football coaching qualification next month, but that's as far as I'm going to take my football coaching. I'd much rather transfer over to fitness and plan to acquire my Level 3 Reps Personal Trainer qualification, which would presumably give me legal clearance to give people proper advice about health and physical activity.

Perhaps, down the line, there is the opportunity to start a charity aiming to help young people work towards achieving something positive and meet new people, developing their social and life skills? I am already enjoying working as a voluntary youth worker so I am gaining experience in this area.

However, I can't do this alone! I would need to find and meet even more like minded people who would not only be interested in training together to support one another, but also have an interest in helping their local community.

So once again, if there are any local readers of the blog who would like to meet up to train or learn more about calisthenics, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

Moving forward, I'll be training at Knockhill Park Monday's, Friday's and Sunday's. However if you closer to any of the other locations I've talked about on this page, I could come train there too! Just give me a shout here on Blogger, or Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Thanks for reading, and hopefully I'll gather enough interest to justify continuing with 'Renfrewshire Calisthenics' as a project - and maybe see you soon!

And don't forget...get outside, build muscle, have fun!


  1. Hi Jamesy.

    I am currently paying £150/month for a group strength training class 3xtimes a week. But it's just too expensive and I am drawn more now to bodyweight training. Because I find it more fun and gives functional strength more than strength to lift a dumbell.

    I've started off practising impossible dips and impossible push ups and have installed a wall mounted pull up bar on the back wall of my house.

    But the reason I am writing this note apart from just to let you know I like your blog, is that I was in a park the other day and I found everything you could possibly need to do a full calisthenics workout. My nearest park is bellahouston which as you know is quite limited. But this park I mention is in the east end of Glasgow in Dalmarnock and it's called the Cupar loop. It had 3 different level pull bars all joined together so that you could jump from 1 to the other, parallel bars and monkey bars which are quite long and go uphill in a slope which make it even more if a challenge.

    I was thinking it would be a good idea to start an outdoor class around this equipment 3times a week.

    I am still just beginning but just putting the feelers out to see if there would be any interest in it.

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Hi Kieron. That is a whopping amount of wonga! I am not too familiar with that area, but I will definitely go check it out and take pictures for a full blogpost, and add it to the list. Are you a qualified PT?


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