If you asked most people what a Trim Trail was, they wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. Unlike a climbing frame or play tower, the name doesn’t really give the game away. This makes Trim Trails the unsung hero of the British playground because, in fact, they are one of the most popular forms of playground equipment in the UK. You see them everywhere, in parks, public play areas and, increasingly, in the school playground. In this post, we aim to explain exactly what a Trim Trail is and show you why they are great for schools.
What is a Trim Trail?
A Trim Trail is a children’s obstacle course composed of different pieces of apparatus laid out to form a series of fun-filled physical challenges. The aim is for the child to get from the start to the finish – though where they start or finish is usually down to them.
What pieces of equipment make up a Trim Trail is entirely dependent on the choice of the school and this is usually based on the age, ability and interests of the children for whom it is created and on the space and budget the school have available. Though, when it comes to budget, the Trim Trail can be added to over time.
What pieces of equipment can be used in a Trim Trail?
There are many individual pieces of apparatus that can be used to create a unique Trim Trails course. These include:
- Balance beams
- Balance challenges
- Chin-up bars
- Challenge nets (climbing rigging)
- Dip bars
- Duck and dive (under and over) posts
- Jungle bars
- Leapfrog posts
- Log passes (wobbly log balance beams)
- Log stairs
- Log steps (wooden stepping stones)
- Log strides
- Log weaves
- Meet and split balance bars
- Overhead ladder bars (for swinging)
- Rope traverses, including zig-zag traverses
- Shuffle bars
- Spinning log balance bars
- Step and jump posts
- Twisty challenges (twisted rigging)
- Tyre pass (wobbly tyre balance challenge)
- Tyre steppers
- Wobbly bridges
- Wobbly planks
There is also a range of interchangeable Trim Trails. These are rope challenges built on apex, cube or square frames, which come with a variety of rope designs that can be changed frequently to ensure the children always have different obstacles to play on. These can be incorporated into standard Trim Trails courses and are designed for the ropes to be easily changed over. There are many different rope challenges you can choose from.
Pupils of all age groups can use Trim Trails
Trim trails products are divided into four categories: early years, simplified, intermediate and advanced. The products in each category get increasingly more challenging and, in some cases, they are higher off the ground or are designed for taller children. Early years pieces are obviously designed for EYFS pupils. While simplified work well with infants, intermediate with juniors and advanced with secondary, the wide range of abilities within any cohort of students means schools may want to include items from more than one category into their trail. Here at ESP Play, we’re more than happy to give advice on what works well.
Why are Trim Trails great for schools?
Trim trails offer four great benefits to schools. They are fun to play on, help pupils develop a range of important skills, improve physical health and contribute to mental wellbeing. One of the reasons you see so many Trim Trails courses across the country is that, even from a very young age, children love to play on them. The challenges they present and the excitement of trying to overcome them make them irresistible to many children.
Those same challenges, however, help children develop a range of skills. For the youngest, these include physical skills like balance and coordination but, beyond this, they teach all children how to handle risk, solve problems and develop resilience – all skills which can be transferred to the classroom and which are essential for life after school.
With obesity being a rising issue for our society and increasing numbers of pupils being overweight, it has never been more important to get children active. According to the NHS, youngsters should get an hour of quality physical activity every day. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles mean fewer young people get the opportunity to play outside with their friends out of school and, often, the only real chance they get is during school break and lunchtimes. Introducing a Trim Trail course gives children the apparatus they need to participate in physical activity and, with a range of different equipment, it is possible to get them doing a variety of health benefitting exercises – climbing, swinging, jumping, fast steps, etc.
Regular physical activity is also beneficial for mental wellbeing, indeed, according to the Mental Health Foundation, it can increase self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, help prevent the development of mental health problems and improve the quality of life of those who already have such a problem. With 12.8% of UK pupils now living with a mental health disorder and schools under increased pressure to take care of those affected and help prevent the trend getting worse, a Trim Trail can make a positive contribution to a school’s efforts.
Hopefully, this post will have helped you put the right name to the popular pieces of outdoor play equipment you see in playgrounds up and down the country. Trim Trails are thrilling obstacle courses made up from apparatus of your choice and which not only offer exciting playtimes but help develop skills, make children physically fitter and bring benefits for mental wellbeing.