(NaturalNews) It is a burgeoning trend all across the country, especially as increasing amounts of people couple their personal fitness goals with local community-building efforts. But fitness groups that meet and train with paid instructors at public parks throughout the city of Santa Monica in California could soon face increased costs as a result of new user fees being considered by local officials.
Perhaps you have seen such groups doing yoga, CrossFit, or various other aerobic activities on the grassy knoll at your local park. Or maybe you are even part of a group like this yourself, and see no real harm in it. But city officials in Santa Monica feel otherwise, having made suggestions recently, according to CBS 2 News in Los Angeles, that fitness group leaders and trainers pay an annual fee to gain access to local parks, as well as forfeit a portion of their profits to the city as a type of use-tax.
Local residents trying to use city parks, claim officials, are unable to do so when paid fitness instructors bring large classes there, where they end up consuming much of the open grass space used by children and families. Since fitness classes are generating private revenue on public property, in other words, officials believe they should have to pay extra to the city. It is only fair, they allege, to help conserve very limited park space, particularly in a dense urban area such as Santa Monica.
$100 fee, 15 percent revenue tax excessive, claim some residents
But many local fitness instructors, as well as their patrons, feel the proposal is excessive and unreasonable. The proposed $100 annual fee to use public parks, and 15 percent tax on fitness instructors' gross revenues, would only serve to fill the coffers of the city at the expense of local residents without really changing much. And many fitness instructors would have no other choice but to raise their prices for members, which would only end up penalizing local residents for using public parks.
"The idea of shutting down group training in this park is appalling," explained Angela Parker, a trainer who runs Body Inspired Fitness, to CBS 2 about the proposal. Parker and her clients routinely use Palisades Park, a popular Santa Monica park that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, for outdoor training purposes. "We're small, independently-owned businesses and, unfortunately, we would have to pass that percentage down to our clients."
Many local residents agree, having told reporters that they prefer being able to exercise outdoors rather than inside a gym, and see no harm in using the parks. At the same time, however, paid classes that involve outdoor exercises may, in fact, be more suited to private property owned by a local gym, claim others, similar to how a restaurant could not simply open up shop in a food truck at a local park without proper permits.
What do you think about this issue? Should paid fitness classes be allowed to use local parks for free, or should they have to pay the city in order to discourage park overuse?