California Residents Versus Fitness Fanatics: To City Counsil We Go

Fitness enthusiasts and fanatics seem to have the world as their oyster. Longer, healthier lives and physical endurance are some of the positive byproducts of the pastime. And some like to practice this pastime in public, much to the annoyance of some.

In Santa Monica, fitness is a way of life. Sprawling across the 420 acres of grass paralleling the Pacific Ocean are groups people furiously lifting weights, doing sit-ups, stretching on mats, and flexing their muscles with weight machines tied to whatever’s anchored to the ground.

Johnny Gray, an assistant track coach at UCLA and former Olympic runner remarks:

“It’s starting to look like a 24-Hour Fitness gym out there.”

Gray says he’s often forced to navigate around weight machines, barbells and other exercise equipment as he runs, reports FOX News. This is probably the norm for war veterans in the field, but not for someone just going for a morning jog.

Karen Ginsberg, the city’s director of community and cultural services, said other park users are complaining about fitness enthusiasts not only impeding pedestrian walkways but also making too much noise and ruining the natural landscape. Weights are killing the grass and exercise equipment is damaging the trees it’s connected to.

Ginsberg adds:

“Some people have also expressed concerns about people operating a business on city land and putting the city at risk of liability because they aren’t carrying insurance.”

So now the City Council has considered requiring trainers who hold workout sessions in the parks and beaches of Santa Monica pay an annual $100 fee and pay 15 percent of their earnings. City officials are also looking into restrictions on the use of weights, bands and other equipment, says Raw Story.

Fitness in the park

The trainers countered that like any responsible business operators, many are insured and are CPR trained. They have already paid their legal dues to hold classes outdoors, and though they don’t have to pay rent to anyone, they believe that’s enough cost for the kind of business they run.

Ruben Lawrence, who has offered boxing and fitness training classes in the area for six years, states:

“I could easily go back indoors but that’s what I wanted to get away from. I wanted to provide these programs to the masses at affordable rates to the community in a place people enjoy.”

Raisa Lilling, who offers workout classes to the mothers of newborns, said trainers like herself have been working to keep their students quiet and out of the way of tourists and casual pedestrians:

“I can absolutely see where they’re coming from, but a complete ban, I think, is a little extreme.”

Ginsberg emphasizes that planners are still working out the kinks in proposed regulations, and agrees there should be a middle ground.

Both sides are trying to find a win-win scenario for the benefit of all.