Private fitness trainers and City Hall are making headway
in coming to terms of how exercise instruction may take place at select public
parks and the beach in Santa Monica.
The City Council unanimously agreed
Tuesday night to look into loosening regulations for personal trainers who
offer classes at Palisades Park and other public areas.
Council members directed City staff to put together an
ordinance that would effectively serve as a middle ground.
Private fitness trainers would be allowed to continue
offering classes in certain public areas but with some restrictions.
The council direction comes a long way from the rift that
previously existed between City Hall and private trainers.
Both sides were at odds about how much the City could
collect from a trainer’s gross revenue, the size of classes offered, and the
use of heavy weights.
City Hall had considered possibly banning all fitness
classes larger than two people at Palisades Park and prohibiting the use of
With the council’s recommendations Tuesday night, some
heavy equipment may now be allowed on-site.
Group classes may also be offered in addition to
individual instruction. An agreement may also be reached with respect to the
amount of money City Hall would collect from the private trainers.
A permit system may also be put into effect.
Prior to the council’s Tuesday meeting, City staff and
officials had met with community members and private trainers to get a better
grasp of the issue and discover possible compromises.
“After collecting feedback and suggestions from fitness
trainers and residents, staff developed a proposed regulatory structure that
largely achieves consensus,” City staff stated. “The changes include: the
need for a permit system; insurance; indemnification; compliance with existing
business license and police permit rules; identification of parks appropriate
for commercial fitness activity; and new rules addressing protection of park
At the April 23 council meeting, it was proposed that
private trainers pay City Hall 10 percent of their gross revenues. Previous
proposals pegged that rate at 15 percent. Also, weights of 25 pounds or more
may potentially be allowed at the beach and Clover Park.
The specific restrictions that would apply to private
fitness classes in public spaces would be clarified when an ordinance is
presented to the council. Yet, Council members said some restrictions would be
There are nine parks where private fitness instruction
would not be allowed: Ashland Park, Euclid Park, Goose Egg Park, Joslyn Park,
Muscle Beach Park, Ozone Park, Pacific Street Park, Park Drive Park, and
Private fitness classes on city-owned property came to
the council after City Hall reported of complaints by residents of group
training programs and boot camps at Palisades Park and other locations.
“For several years, community members have regularly complained
to staff about the proliferation of unregulated fitness training and boot camps
in City parks and at the beach. Most of the complaints about this activity
refer to the intense use of the north end of Palisades Park,” City staff
Other recreational activities conducted at public parks
and area beaches, such as tennis and surf instructions, are already regulated
by City Hall.
“For years, the City has required tennis instructors to
obtain permits and pay fees for court use. Surf instruction permits have
been awarded since 2008 to a select number of instructors, all of whom have
business licenses, pay permit fees, provide proof of insurance, and share a
percentage of their revenues,” City staff stated. “The City also contracts with
instructors to conduct classes inside park facilities, outdoors, and at the
beach with shared revenue and other requirements.”
Private fitness classes, irrespective of size, at public
parks and beaches have been prohibited or heavily regulated in other cities.
For example, all private trainers in Redondo Beach are
required to contract with the city and offer their services through
In Manhattan Beach, private trainers are screened and are
limited as to when and where they may conduct their classes.
Los Angeles and Culver City assess hourly rates or charge
private trainers “a percentage of gross receipts for commercial fitness
activity and camps.”
City staff expects to return to the council during the
summer with a proposed ordinance.
The Santa Monica Outdoor Fitness Coalition issued a
statement following Tuesday’s meeting.
The statement said the coalition was grateful for the
“courage the Santa Monica City Council exhibited” to ensure that “balance is
“We look forward to working with the City to protect and
preserve these priceless spaces,” the statement read. “It’s clear from the
enormous amount of public comments in support of fitness training in our public
parks, and the support of the majority of City Council members, that there is a
balance that can be struck to ensure fair and equitable use of these unique
spaces for group fitness, contemplation, family picnics, mental and physical
health and so much more.”
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