News round up from Paul Swainson
Last week a daily newspaper reported the case of a personal trainer who is being prosecuted for training clients in a local park without a license.
When the scheme for councils to charge trainers to use parks was announced some time ago it caused a huge stir and it was inevitable someone would fall foul of the situation.
It is perhaps fair to say that in exchange for providing adequate facilities from which someone can run a business, that person should contribute to the upkeep of those facilities. A spokesman for the Royal Parks in this particular case was quoted as saying ..."we must strike a balance between individuals using the parks for recreation and relaxation and businesses operating for commercial gain". Then again, our roads and streets are public areas, so does that mean trainers who go for a run with their clients should also pay the council?
It is worth noting that this is a similar system to what happens in the majority of gyms whereby PTs pay a license fee to be able to practice. Whereas these fees can reach into hundreds of pounds (and more) per month, the park licenses are often a fraction of this, reflecting the fact trainers simply need an open space in which to work with clients. With increasing recognition that you don’t necessarily need a gym to train effectively, but do require a safe and suitable outdoor environment, perhaps well-maintained parks are the answer.
Interestingly there is less resistance to boot camp owners being charged, and this may be due to recognition of the impact large group training has. One to one sessions can be delivered relatively discretely without inconveniencing other park users, whereas there is potential for boot camps to limit access to certain areas (particularly where there are 50-60+ members which is common), take up parking spaces and possibly create noise. Feb / 2014
REPs outlines stance on parks and exercise
What is frustrating is that license systems can present a barrier to trainers providing a service which ultimately will be of significant benefit to the community and society as a whole. Parks are, fundamentally, places for physical activity and relaxation, so if we can encourage more people to use them as such rather than make it harder, surely this will be better in the long run? Perhaps if councils could give more value for money there is a mutually beneficial solution; many parks now have purpose built activity equipment (bars, steps, obstacles, etc) which makes a more persuasive argument that trainers should pay to be able to use these with clients. What do you think?