Fitness expert Garry Egger, who advises the federal government on health and fitness, recently called for a crackdown on fitness trainers who monopolise public areas such as parks and beaches. But the call for councils to regulate the industry is already being followed in St George and Sutherland Shire, where councils have had policies in place for several years governing the behaviour, noise levels and size of fitness groups which can use public land. Jim Gainsford, Maria Galinovic and Kate Carr report.
THE call for councils to crack down on fitness trainers who monopolise public areas such as parks and beaches is being followed up in Sutherland Shire.
So far this year there have been 15 complaints to Sutherland Shire Council concerning training groups and personal trainers.
Complaints tend to be one-off reports about a particular trainer or group, a council spokeswoman said.
"The majority of complaints refer to noise before 7am caused by personal trainers calling out to their customers," she said.
"In some instances, the noise made by equipment such as boxing gloves is cause for complaint.
"A few refer to the number of people training in relation to a location."
The council's policy states that there can be up to 18 people for each trainer.
Council officers go to the identified location and discuss the complaint with the training group and trainers.
"To date, by council officers talking to the relevant parties and advising them of why the complaint has been made and identifying any breaches of policy, issues have been resolved without repeat complaints or the requirement for council to revoke fitness trainer approvals," the spokeswoman said.
But not everyone is happy.
One Leader reader, who did not want to be named, sent in a photo taken recently showing a personal trainer with his client on a Saturday morning taking over the children's swing at Oak Park.
"Do you think granny with her grand children or a young mum with kids would have asked them to move?" he said.
"I think not, but it is typical of the ignorance shown by some to the general public."
Regulations governing the behaviour of trainers and fitness groups are outlined in Sutherland Shire Council's Use of Public Open Space by Commercial Fitness Groups and Personal Trainers policy statement.
The policy aims to ensure that commercial fitness training activities do not have an impact on surrounding residents, that public infrastructure is protected and also addresses public risk concerns.
Commercial fitness trainers are required to register with council and gain approval for an annual fee.
They are issued with identification which they have to produce on request.
THERE is peace in the parks across St George, which the various councils put down to regulation.
They’ve acknowledged the growth of the outdoor fitness industry and have comprehensive policies in place to manage the use of their parks.
All three councils allow personal trainers in certain parks and permits are limited to manage congestion.
‘‘Council restricts the number of permits in the parks to manage equity of access for all users,’’ a Hurstville Council spokeswoman said.
‘‘Council receives minimal complaints; however, it constantly monitors the situation.’’
A Kogarah Council spokeswoman said its permit system also worked well.
‘‘Council receives minimal complaints regarding outdoor fitness classes,’’ she said.
‘‘Those relate to personal trainers who conduct one-off classes without a permit or operate outside the hours outlined in council’s policy on the use of council parks and reserves by commercial fitness groups and personal trainers.’’
‘‘For the most part, outdoor fitness classes in the Kogarah LGA are operating effectively with trainers, participants and nearby residents supportive of the current system in place.’’
Both Hurstville and Kogarah councils have exclusion zones so the fitness activities do not interfere with other park uses.
A Rockdale Council spokesman said its council policy kept both regular park users and fitness trainers happy.
‘‘The allocation for fitness training is made through our permit system,’’ the spokesman said.
‘‘Our fees and charges are designed to encourage regular groups. I am not aware of any recent complaints about trainers in the park.’’
Hurstville’s exclusion zones include footpaths, park furniture, such as picnic tables, shelters, seats and benches, playgrounds, bushland areas, within 10 metres of memorials, memorial seats and playground equipment, within 50 metres of residential properties and all sporting activities.
At Kogarah, fitness groups cannot operate within 10 metres of public amenities buildings, including toilets and change rooms, within 30 metres of residential properties and within 20 metres of picnic or barbecue areas.
Rockdale Council excludes commercial fitness groups from operating in picnic shelters, stairways, footpaths and boardwalks. It also requires operators to keep 20 metres from children’s play areas and 50 metres from residential homes, kiosks or canteens.
So far this year there have been 15 complaints to Sutherland Shire Council concerning training groups and personal trainers. Complaints tend to be one-off reports about a particular trainer or group, a council spokeswoman said.
‘‘The majority of complaints refer to noise before 7am caused by personal trainers calling out to their customers,’’ she said.
FREE TO EXERCISE
Parks where fitness activities are permitted include:
Hurstville: Beverly Hills Park, Peter Lowe Reserve, Evatt Park, Gannons Park, Gifford’s Park, Kempt Field, Narwee Park, Oatley Park Oval, Olds Park, Peakhurst Park, Riverwood Park, Smith Park and Tallawalla Reserve.
Kogarah: Carss Bush Park, Claydon Reserve, Donnelly Park, Empress Reserve, Hogben Park, Kogarah Park, Moore Reserve, Ma An Shan Friendship Park, Oatley Memorial Gardens, Sans Souci Park, Todd Park.
Rockdale: Peter Depena Reserve, Scarborough Park, Bicentennial Park recreational area, Rockdale beaches.
Are fitness groups taking up too much space in public parks and beaches or have you registered a complaint with a council?
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