REPs Registrar Jean-Ann Marnoch joined the team of BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours on Friday January 20th to talk about the issue of fitness instructors and personal trainers being charged by councils to use parks and open spaces. An investigation by the BBC discovered that more than a third of local authorities in the UK charge for fitness classes in their public parks.
A survey by Radio 4’s You and Yours found more than 40% charged personal trainers a fee to run exercise sessions in their parks. In north-east England, 72% of councils charge, while only 14% in Wales charge. The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) says it is disappointed with the findings.
Jean-Ann commented: “This issue has prompted the biggest response we have ever seen from our members. While some appreciate the need for a nominal fee to pay for wear and tear on parks and open spaces many are finding themselves charged for multiple licenses for individual parks and by neighbouring borough councils.
“Often our members are having to find hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds to use parks – costs that they often don’t feel they can justify passing on to their clients. One of our members said they wouldn’t be able to justify the £350 cost for the few clients they train in the park. So what then? Do we tell clients to forget a healthy lifestyle and go back to sitting in a chair all day? That’s certainly not what we want.”
She added: “If there has to be a charge the Register would like to see councils working together on a cohesive and reciprocal approach that would mean each instructor pays a one-off fee allowing them to using any park in their borough and maybe parks in neighbouring boroughs too.”
Jean-Ann also expressed concern that charges would be passed on to clients and make exercise less affordable. She argues that classes in parks are often a cheaper way to achieve an active lifestyle.
Nine out of 10 councils responded to the survey, a total of 354 local authorities.
Of them, 150 confirmed that personal trainers had to pay a fee to run exercise sessions in their parks. To read more, or to listen to the broadcast click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16656288