Postitive park charge stories needed


REPs members are being asked to share their experiences of working with local authorities and councils on the parks charges issue. The Local Government Association (LGA) has contacted the Register of Exercise Professionals to help them assess the issue and find examples of best-practice. These positive case-studies will then be circulated via the LGA’s newsletter to its local government members to try to promote successful working arrangements.

Registrar Jean-Ann Marnoch said: “I know that as well as being a hotly debated topic amongst our members, some have come to mutually beneficial arrangements with their local councils and we’d like to work with the LGA in promoting similar schemes.” If you would like to take part please email sarah.owen@skillsactive.com

For more information on the LGA click here: http://www.local.gov.uk/

80 responses to “Postitive park charge stories needed

  1. there aren’t any positive stories i bet

  2. becky

    I fail to see why we as a profession should be promoting positive stories (not that I have any) for the parks to charge us to train in them. I applied for my licence over 5 weeks ago and still haven’t received it – I’ve chased 3 times by email – and been told there are administrative hold ups. The council are happy to cash my cheque, but can’t provide a licence and not once have I been asked to show it to anyone in the parks. It makes a complete mockery of the system and proves to me that it’s just a cash raising initiative. It actually could serve a purpose and be beneficial to everyone, but councils have rushed in to it, not thought it through properly, not collaborated with other boroughs and need to sit back and take some time to think it through.

  3. I had to read that back several times before I realised it didn’t say ‘negative stories’.

  4. paul smith

    I requested permission from my local council to occasionally take 4-6 people into the local parks to train, and was quoted an assessment fee of £150, plus an assessment period of at least 8 weeks. I would then (if successful) be required to pay an as yet undetermined per-visit fee. The forms I was required to fill out had reams of sections regarding the provision of catering and funfair (!) facilities. When I pointed out that I wasn’t trying to organise Glastonbury, I was informed that I still had to go through (and pay for) the full process. Good luck in finding any positive stories.

  5. Roger Smith

    Parks provided by local authorities are not businesses, nor are the local authorities themselves. The parks are provided for the use and enjoyment of the general public who, have already paid for the upkeep and provision of the resources in the park via their council tax and other general taxation; this of course includes instructors and personal trainers (assuming they are paying their taxes). Public parks have always been free to use and with open access for all during open hours, in some areas this includes drug dealing, drinking and inappropriate sexual activity presumably local authorities don’t issue licences for these activities, (pardon my cynicism).
    However in the interests of promoting the professional status of fitness instructors and personal trainers, particularly those who are REPS members. No doubt local authorities are concerned that they could become liable if an accident occured during a fitness session but, they also should be taking a responsibility to promote healthy lifestyles for everyone. If the licencing of appropriately qualified fitness professionals i.e. REPS Members, would help then I see no issue with this, provided, any licence fee is only sufficient to cover the administration of the scheme. REPS could of course offer to administrate the sceme on a nationwide basis, ensuring that there is no postcode lottery for participants and the sheme would then be promoted on a nationwide basis, possibly drawing some national funding for marketing. Outdoor equipment is provided in some parks that can be used for fitness sessions and a national approach would help to get a more universal provision and acceptance of this approach to fitness and lifestyle. Many people prefer to take their excercise outdoors and REPS involvement would add credibility.
    I think all members should get behind this in a positive way as it can only benefit us as a profession.

  6. Simon Saunders

    Are not all the positives actually being supplied by personal trainers / outdoor bootcamps using the parks? I arrive to the park early pick up rubbish from the areas I’ll be using, I ensure the area is clear on my departure. I may rough up the grass from time to time but I’ll not repeat a session on the same patch to avoid permanent damage. I speak to other park users and the parks staff. I have asked people to stop and reported acts of vandalism, smoking drugs and drinking alcohol – just the presence of a group of healthy law abiding citizens (and local tax payers) actually helps to promote public open spaces and parks for there original intended use.

  7. Janey Halliday who owns and runs Fit For A Princess which is one of the most successful outdoor business in the UK has always been charged for the use of the Parks for several years. This isn’t new. Janey has often told me that this can be an advantage as when she has had a problem with the parks, say dog pooh, because she is registered and licensed they clear it up for her. She gets put on the councils website and when another trainer comes into the park who is un-registered then they get asked to leave. You can see that all of these can be positive experiences in protecting your business. The issue isn’t you training in a park the issue is you are running a business on their land for which they have maintenance costs etc. Would you expect a club to let you train clients without charging you, absolutely not. The second important point is liability. If someone hurt themselves in the park the liability may also sit with the council as well as you the instructor so you should be professionally registered and declare it as a business. This presents challenges with some councils and I’m sure not all councils are fair and equitable about it however most are. At the end of the day its a much cheaper rent than you would pay at a club chain for gym floor space. I believe the positive approach is to treat it as a business meeting with the council, negotiate the pricing structure and negotiate the support package that you can offer each other and detail it in a service level agreement. Average fees in my experience are between £350 per annum up to around £1500 per annum that I am aware of from people we work with.

    • Will

      Are you for real? You obviously have cash to burn and are trying to further your social standing by being au fait with the council. Just because you don’t mind paying ( obviously in the minority) don’t try and defend an extra job tax. You have paid for the park in the Miriad of taxes we now pay for everything. Your comments have no basis. The council should clean up the parks if asked by any member of the public your reps membership does not get you any special treatment. The council have nothing to do with insurance . You are the instructor so any liability lies with you no matter where you are.no way the council will step in and let you claim on their insurance if someone had an accident while you were training them. If the park is unfit for use and someone has an accident then any any member of the public would be covered. Again your reps membership is of no use.
      Do not kid yourself that any council is fair. They overspent our cash for years and are now having to grab every ounce of cash from every quarter to balance the books and it’s people like you who will stand by and back slap them while they impose an unfair an immoral job tax on the rest of us. How dare you try and justify it. Your quote of £350 and £1500 says it all. That is your car tax and or your council tax. Why pay twice??
      The reason PTs don’t rent floor space is to make the low paid wages viable by taking it outside. It’s fresher, cleaner and free…. Unless you and the councils get your way. Kapo !

      • gill@drummondeducation.com

        Thanks Will for your reply. Everyone of course is entitled to express their opinion without judement. The point of this discussion was that REPs asked for “POSITIVE’ COMMENTS and examples.

      • Please join my Facebook campaign. I am angry about fees that prevent me from helping local residents and have contacted my MP who has promised to help. https://www.facebook.com/groups/179826472180727/
        Please join, we are stronger united
        Thanks
        Jacqui
        Personal trainer / yoga teacher

  8. The problem is the lack of any clear pricing structure and the lack of council administration staff who understand what we are doing in the parks.
    I tried to “do the right thing” and approached my local council about running outdoor bootcamps in my local park over Summer 2007, having spoken to Janey (see email above) about her costs I had an idea of what to expect…..but the council did not!
    The paper work as Paul Smith mentions above is for fairs/ fetes or as they call them “events” it took 4 months for them to finally concede I was not actually hosting an event (standard fee £500 per session) but they would charge me “only £50” per session with a review after 2 months.

    Discussion of an annual fee or even a quaterly fee was beyond their scope, as was the idea of the mutual benefits that could be gleened from me using and advertising their parks and the improving fitness of the local people!
    As the summer had finished I informed them that I was not going ahead with my plans!

    I agee the principle is sound, but there has to be a realistic set charge. Unfortunately most councils are looking for a quick and easy boost to their coifers and do not seem to be able to see beyond that!!

  9. I have a positive comment. Wandsworth council allow me to use Tooting Bec common for free. I can train 1-1 and group sessions as long as they are aware of my bookings and as long as I don’t exceed 10 people for my group training sessions. I believe it is a different story for Wandsworth common though where I believe you get charged a set fee.

  10. Michael Van-Dongen

    The next piece of legislation that comes out will be for anyone who walks into the park to acquire a license… only a matter of time before people get taxed for using the parks facilities i.e. swing, slides…. all I can say is what are our taxes paying for? I know were in a recession… but I’m sure we didn’t put ourselves in that little predicament… could rabble on all day, but it’s only falling upon death ears…

  11. seb morgan fitness

    I pay my council tax, i pay my income tax, i pay my national insurance, i pay my liability insurance, i pay my REPS membership, i pay my course and training fee’s, i pay for my own equipment, i pay for my own transport, i pay for my own publicity, i pay for everything for myself and what the gov/council tell me too…..so far.

    But I will NOT pay to improve the lives and health benefits of my clients. I don’t care what anyone else say, I will not pay the greedy council…..and that’s what it is, nothing less and nothing more, to use something that i already pay for in my taxes and in fact is not kept up to scratch….the amount of dog crap, cigaret butts, condoms, rubbish lying about is disgusting.

    I respect everyones opinion although i may not agree with it but incase you didn’t get what i was saying i’ll say it again.

    Never ever EVER shall i pay the greedy to use a public space to improve the lives of others…enough said

  12. Lesley Drinkwater

    Don’t we already pay enough ? What will it be next ? will we have to pay road tax to cycle or run ? Public places are for the public to use as they choose, as long as we aren’t damaging anything or breaking the law !!!

  13. Rob

    Has anyone actually checked if the councils have the legal right to do this? I checked the by-laws for parsk in my area, and there is nothing that suggests they can even do this. I do not actually carry out trade in my park, I am paid in advance and only actually attend the park to supervise and give advice to people who have every right to be there.

    There are two main issues here for me here as a personal trainer. I will then address the differences between group fitness training and 1-2-1 sessions which are significant.

    1. Why is it that personal trainers have been singled out? Do nannies who take their clients (ie babies) into parks get charged? What about dog-walkers? No they do not. So why should personal trainers who, as pointed out, are actually improving health of the nation – something which is in the manifesto for every council (ask to see their parks strategy). What about photographers who use parks for their business, or teachers who take school trips there? We (collectively) own these parks. Why should we pay twice for them?
    2. We have a transient client base. Yet they ask us to pay annually per park, or per council. I live in large connurbation and within my client area are 7 councils. I might train with one person for a while in one park, then never use that park again. The entire attraction of a mobile trainer for clients is that we come to them and train them in their local area without having to ask them to drive to a specific park. This will take that away.

    I agree that a single registration scheme would address this. We could do with a single register that ensures that its members are suitably qualified, properly insured and keep up with their CPD. It could be government-backed and in fact owned by the sector skills council. We could call it something like, I don’t know, the Register of Exercise Professionals and issue cards showing annually to quality assure them.

    OK now to the difference between 1-2-1 sessions and Bootcamp type sessions. As a PT, I do not require the use of a single area to the exclusion of others. My sessions are held mostly off the grass, and the likelihood of wear and tear is very low. Finally, I get about £30 an hour for my sessions – some of these bootcamp type sessions rake in a fortune. How can they even think to treat us the same.

    I am with Seb Morgan. There is no way they can legally restrict our activities at the moment and as long as this is the case, I will not submit to their bullying, greedy, shortsighted tactics.

  14. I run a small class for the over 50s, because of the demographic I am only charging £5 per person with no sign up. I get between 2-5 people per session as I have just started up and I average 3 people a session. My council have just emailed me and told me I have to pay them £10 PER SESSION to run my class, This really makes it completely unprofitable for me.
    I have no problem with them charging an admin fee to check my professional qualifications and insurance details, in fact that would be a positive. £10 a session is just making money out of me for which I get no return. I have emailed them to ask what they currently charge dog walkers and childminders, both commercial enterprises which use our local park area.

    “This isn’t new. Janey has often told me that this can be an advantage as when she has had a problem with the parks, say dog pooh, because she is registered and licensed they clear it up for her.”

    As a council tax payer I would expect them to do this if I rang up, irrespective of whether I am a personal trainer using the park or just someone going for a walk!

    • Tara (eezeefit)

      I have the same problem. My local park (opposite to where I live) wants to charge me £10/hour. I am hoping to start a bootcamp but I know it will take time to build numbers etc. As Whole Life Fitness above this would be non profitable for myself if I only get 4 clients or even less. I was only going to charge £4/person. So am I working my butt off (so to speak) to line the pockets of people that want to sit back and hold their hands out for my money whilst they do nothing to earn it. I asked myself the question “why didn’t you just go ahead and run the class and wait until somebody approached you – act dumb!!” The answer was “because I thought I’d do everything above board, do the right thing, blah blah blah” Do we charge people to enter the park and charge them per hour….No i don’t think we do.

      All I am trying to do is to promote health and well being to the community that I was born and brought up in. Encourage adults and children to get active. Reduce health related diseases and save the Government (NHS) some money.

      I have spent alot of money gaining qualifications and will have to do so to continue to build my experience and keep up to date and so that I can remain a member on REPS.

      I pay Council Tax, Income Tax and every other Tax going but still that isn’t enough.

      You ask for Positive Comments but did you honestly expect any?????

    • Rob

      You have raised a good point about asking the question- Who else pays to use parks? REPS should be representing us by asking this question under the freedom of information act, but unfortunately they are not. So I would encourage anyone who wants to fight this to do exactly that. Write to your local council and demand answers. Who has paid for the right to do their job in public places (not just parks) in the last 5 years.

      If we build an evidence base of the fact that there are people out there (eg dog walkers, nannies etc etc ) that are blatantly using the parks and not being charged then we have a case that we are being unfairly treated. Please take a few moments to ask this question to your local council, post the answers online and put a link to them on this thread. That way we actually start to build a legal case rather than just moaning.

      How very, very sad that REPS has not organised action like this rather than trying to gloss over this immoral and probably illegal action.

  15. Jane

    I agree with Whole Life Fitness. I run a bootcamp for my friends and I get between 2 and 8 participants and if I had to pay a large annual fee I could not afford to do it. Last week I took £30 despite losing two resistance tubes to broken glass from a car window on a basketball court where we train. I just accept this, as I do when a dog runs off with a cone/ball! And poo on my kit. I have no right to any particular area, I share with the other users, that is all fine. I mean how long does it take a council to come and clear up dog poo when you call them? Some time and then there will be more very soon.

    I agree to having a scheme for registering trainers where they prove they are qualified, insured, first aid trained and registered with reps.

    • Rob

      Why a separate scheme to show the above? REPS shows all of this. We would be paying twice for a single scheme.

      • Jane

        Reps doesn’t necessarily mean u have all the above. I hold insurance elsewhere and at no time have reps asked me with who. It merely asks on the online form that I confirm I hold insurance. That is no proof and just shows how inadequate reps can be.

      • Jane

        I do agree with your points totally btw

  16. Will

    I can’t believe some of you are actually agreeing with this rubbish.kapos.
    You pay your council tax so have already paid for the park.I have let my REPs registration lapse. I still have my insurance because I have the qualifications to obtain it.so I train my clients anyway. If I’m asked myself and my mates are training in the park.job done. There is no positives to being charged. You are being charged twice. What next ? Charging mums to walk with prams? Charging kids on bikes? It’s the thin end of the wedge. Instead of rolling over and submitting to this theft REPs should be fighting your case and getting this immoral and I dare say illegal job tax thrown in the bin. I’d like to see how many people at the top of the food chain in reps are using this to network and get there foot in the door to further their career. It’s a racket. Typical bloody British take it on the chin, grumble and o nothing about it. If you are serious just petition reps and let your membership expire. You don’t need them at all. You don’t need a badge to tell you you can do what you do. I suspect very few of you will do anything about it so when it goes up year on year( which it will once you accept it and it gets made legislation) then you only have yourself to blame. Grow a pair and and stand up for yourself or get screwed by self interested bureaucrats and reps managers.
    If you do nothing then stop complaining and let them steal your hard earned cash.
    You all have the control you just not realise it. Don’t register. Get your own insurance. Once their membership drops alarm bells will ring and action will be taken . Start a petition on Facebook or twitter and investigate the legalities.
    If not it serves you right you mugs.

  17. Rob

    Isn’t there a bigger issue here? Why is REPS colluding with the council, against the interests of its members to try and put a positive spin on this attempt to pilfer from our pockets. I first raised this issue in 2007 – see here http://menmedia.co.uk/southmanchesterreporter/news/s/524656_trainer_told_to_pay_up_for_workout_in_park and REPS were of no help to me then either. I asked them to help me to raise awareness and they did little about it. Perhaps this could have been nipped in the bud..

    Surely REPS should be looking after the interests of its members? At its widest, this membership includes individual members, employers and training providers. Which of these stands to gain from this bullying tactic? As Will says (above) we have control and freedom, but we are far better placed to do this when we act en masse rather than individually. Surely REPS should be balloting its membership to find out if there is a feeling that we should be paying for this -and it not they should be representing the membership rather than their own interests. If REPS is not prepared to stand up for its members then I want no part of it. I work for myself, and have no need for registration. I have an exemplary record as a PT and hold separate insurance anyway. I chose to join the register as I believed in their mission statement- which the website says is to: –
    “ensure that all exercise professionals are
    suitably knowledgeable and qualified to help
    safeguard and to promote the health and
    interests of the people who use their services”

    What has this got to do with that? Instead of bowing down to the slightest pressure, why is the Registrat not pointing out to the LGA that if the councils want to check that trainers are appropriately insured and qualified, all they have to do is check if they are registered? Is that not the whole point of my being on the register? According to the REPS website,membership means that I am:-

    Membership of REPs can provide more than just a badge to enhance your professional image. Being a member of REPs means that I:

    * met the nationally agreed occupational standards which describe the knowledge competence and skills of good practice
    * hold recognised and approved qualifications, are
    * competent in the work place, are
    * committed to ongoing professional development and you are legally
    * covered by appropriate insurance

    What else do the councils need to know? Surely the whole point of REPS was to avoid the need to go through a complicated process of quality control with every new person we work with. This is a thin veil for a stealth tax by councils and I am absolutely disgusted that the body that I pay for (REPS) is acting against my interests. I suspect I will not be renewing my membership. A shame as I was amongst the first Level 4 instructors in the country and have been a strong supporter in the face of growing criticism of the register.

    Yes – gym-based trainers have to pay rent. but they also do not have to travel for approximately one hour between sessions. We made out choice to be outdoor trainers for various reasons, but there is no justification for trying to charge us for it. What we gain in not paying rent we lose in travelling across the region – bringing fitness to busy people who need it when and where they are at that time. What will happen ultimately is that the cost will be passed to the public – who have already paid for the parks.

    • Couldn’t of put it better myself.
      Here here. All take note and all do something or don’t complain ;0)

      • stasia wright

        I agree with you Will all the way Why pay REps ? what an utter mess RIP OF BRITIAN. I have studied for ever and still they ask you to Pay and pay and pay. Why?

    • Rob

      Apologies for the typos – that is what trying to fight injustice on a Sunday night alongside running a business does to you…

  18. Tara (eezeefit)

    Here, here Rob – very well said and put.

  19. Gareth

    I agree entirely with Rob.

    There is no doubt that REPs will now be acutely aware of what the feeling of the membership is towards this. I hope they had the foresight to see this coming, and if they didn’t I hope they have the courage to now act on the sentiment and represent their membership.

    Many of the points have been stated and stated well already, but I feel the need to add a couple more.

    1) A trainer within a club environment often has his/her marketing included in the rent and almost always has a membership from which to work with; that is where the real value of a rent is and it is what is not there for self-employed trainers within parks.

    2) Although a much bigger issue than just training in parks; we in essence are supposed to be providing proactive/preventative health interventions and therefore lessening the burden on the NHS. Therefore the argument should be for subsidy and grants, not for extra charges/taxes that act as a disincentive or barrier to health promotion.

    3) Having worked in public sector, and now knowing how they work, it is probably someone’s well intentioned and ill advised idea to get positive stories to provide quotable soundbites for the new scheme. I personally am offended that REPs has willing participated and promoted such a blatant propaganda effort. I whole-heartedly agree that they should take a stronger stance in representing their PAYING membership and the wholly positive and ethical aims of the profession. It’s not as if we have a dubious cause with which we are lobbying government, it’s just that we’re not as good at it as the tobacco/pharmaceutical/banking/etc industries. That needs to change.

    If REPs fails to act in our interests, I for one will let my membership lapse and I too am Level 4 registered, a staunch supporter of the register, and more telling for REPs, an employer who has always insisted on membership from anyone who we work with.

  20. David Johnson

    REP’s should be pointing out to the councils that membership of REP’s is proof we are trained and insured, and therefore no further register should be required – check our name or REP’s number on the register, it’s that simple.

    Participants have paid their council tax for the up keep of the park facilities, so why should they be charged again through the higher charges they have to pay to the trainer to cover the fees the trainer is paying to the council.

    It’s nice to read that some trainers want to charge low fees to make these sessions affordable to different sectors of society, not everyone is middle class with bags of money to spare. It’s often the low income and the elderly who would gain the most benefit from joining group exercise, leading to healthier more independent people who are less of a burden to the public purse, presently and in the future as fit and independent elderly.

    The morons working in the public sector who thought they could make money from charging for the park to be used are a great example of why the councils need to slimmed down, they create nothing but over regulation and their own self importance. Rather than fostering free enterprise and allow access to quality instruction for all of society, they want to charge in a way that limits access to the wealthy and prevent those that could benefit to be disenfranchised. And being wealthy should not mean that you are guaranteed the rights to use a public space that all have paid for.

    The councils have scored an own goal of crass stupidity and non joined up thinking (I think that is council speak) they will have a less fit population making demands on its resources, therefore outweighing any monetary benefit they get for charging trainers to use public spaces
    .

    David

  21. Liberte Fitness, who run park & fitness sessions in East Anglia, have always had a fantastic relationships with the councils and have paid to use the parks and beaches from the outset. We’ve submitted risk assessments, lengthy contracts, given them copies of our public liability insurance documents & instructors qualifications. I believe the park land is only free to use socially not for a business use & all businesses who hire space that doesn’t belong to them, should pay, after all, it incurs a cost having to maintain the grounds. One of our parks is award winning which has just had a new clubhouse built with showers/toilets and a cafe and it is going to start charging for car parking. Just because it’s outdoors doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong to anyone. Everyone is having a tough time economically & the councils are struggling, if they are finding new ways of making the parks earn money, then surely this is a good thing as it’s getting people out of the gym and into parks who might otherwise not have visited them. I can see everyone’s point of view but personally, I do believe the hire of park premises is a similar business expense to hiring office space. You wouldn’t dream of turning up in a shopping centre, setting up a desk in the middle of a store and running your office from it, what’s the difference with a park? Too many PT’s think it’s an easy way to make money without paying the gym’s overheads but you have to get approval from anyone’s land you’re using to run a business on. We’ve had issues when I’ve needed the councils’ support in terms of flat batteries on cars, park gates being locked after us, lights being kept on whilst we’re training. When I’ve complained about dog mess, it’s been dealt with immediately as we’re paying clients. I wouldn’t even dream to run such a complicated business model without the backing of the Council & the park rangers. What worries me most is that surely customers would only want to train with reputable fitness companies who follow the guidelines, paid their rates, had a good working relationship with the council and had a professional ethos? We’ve recently joined the FIA (Fitness Industry Association) and have been asked to help contribute to the writing of the outdoor fitness code of conduct. There are too many operators thinking it’s an easier way to make money by running an outside business because they believe the overheads are minimal & it’s this which is damaging the reputation of the businesses who are doing it by the book & following the guidelines.

    • Rob

      I am going to try and avoid attacking you personally as you have done with us and simply answer the points you have raised which are incorrect. As Whole Life Fitness points out, the only posts in favour of charges are those of larger businesses employing multiple trainers and carrying out group training. There are a world of differences between them and individual trainers trying to make a living from one wage earner.

      “Too many PT’s think it’s an easy way to make money without paying the gym’s overheads”
      Really ? And how is it easy money hen we have to allocate up to two hours of our time to run a single session. This morning I carried out 3 personal training sessions across a 20 mile radius and I returned to my house 5 1/2 hours after I left it. How on earth is this easy money? I choose to do this because it is the work that I love – it is certainly not easy money. I would rather be outside than inside, and my clients value me arriving at their door (as well as the outdoor training.

      “if they are finding new ways of making the parks earn money, then surely this is a good thing as it’s getting people out of the gym and into parks who might otherwise not have visited them”
      No they are not. How are the council getting people into the parks? It is us that are getting them in there, and if there ends up being a charge that we have to pass on for it, we will be getting fewer not more people in.

      “You wouldn’t dream of turning up in a shopping centre, setting up a desk in the middle of a store and running your office from it, what’s the difference with a park?”
      No you would not set up a desk in the middle of a shopping centre. But you would be quite entitled to take a business call there. Or walk there whilst discussing business with a colleague. Again this highlights the difference between single session PT and classes like yours. We do not require exclusive use of any area. We work around and alongside other park users. That is totally different from setting up a desk in a shopping mall – requiring exclusivitiy of use. Even if you went to Starbucks to discuss business, you would pay no more than the cost of a coffee.

      “surely customers would only want to train with reputable fitness companies who follow the guidelines, paid their rates, had a good working relationship with the council and had a professional ethos” Really? Ask them then. Would you like me to put up my hourly rate by £10 to cover the additional cost for the park you have already paid for? How many do you think would say yes? And how dare you suggest that I am not reputable or do not pay my rates. This is a charge that has been introduced suddenly. How would the council like it if we turned up one day and told them that they had to take a 20% pay cut? That is the effect of this charge – to reduce our earnings.

      “Just because it’s outdoors doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong to anyone” Quite right. But public parks belong to ……. The Public. This is not a private landowner trying to fairly charge for use of his land. This is land that was donated to the Public in the past. These benefactors must be turning in their graves to think that their gift is being used as a tax on health.

      Finally, and the most important point that nobody has covered. How should a trainer like me operate when my area crosses numerous council boundaries? Is it really fair that I should have to pay each council individually when I am still only one person trying to earn a living. It is not like I can be in two places at once.

      • Eileen

        I think often people are missing the point of individual posts, people were invited to share positive posts. All non for profit organisations such as councils have to be income generating. Council tax is only one part of it and everyone pays council tax not just trainers using parks therefore should the councils use money other people pay for extra services when those extra services are making profit from the activity. The main differentiation should be made between a trainer jogging through a park with one client to a trainer training 40 people on an area that then would require extra maintenance. An individual trainer should not be charged the same as a trainer using a specific area of park for larger number classes. I maintain that if my business plann as a trainer includes this area of work (large classes) then the charge is expected but should be fair and equitable. I’m not a business trying to protect my area nor do I employ trainers I am as you all are a trainer with a business to run.

  22. I find it interesting that the 2 posts in favour of council charges are businesses employing more than one trainer. I am guessing they employ their personal trainers on a fixed wage. The problem with both posts is they come across as wanting to protect their business from competition.

    “We’ve submitted risk assessments, lengthy contracts, given them copies of our public liability insurance documents & instructors qualifications”

    I am quite willing to do that, what I am not willing to do is pay £10 per session to the council when other commercial businesses (such as dog walking) do not have to and pretty much wipes out any profit I make.

    • Rob

      Exactly – if we make £35 a session, but we have to drive their and back (say average 110 misn per session) then pay diesel, kit, CPD, insurance, accountant fees, uniform, etc etc then we make maybe £12-15/hour realistically.

      So why on earth do the council think they can charge such extortionate fees? And who else is paying it. Please, please start sending off some Freedom of Information requests http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ to find out who IS and who IS NOT paying your local council for use of parks. If we find that they are not charging any of the many non-PT groups that we know use them daily then we are being unfairly singled out.

      And don’t forget to ask anyone who tries to charge you under what authority they think they are able to do this. If I am asked to leave a park again I will simply tell them that they need to return with a police officer. If I am asked to leave by the police then I will and will ensure that I get a record of it, and ask their superiors under what law they are authorised to do this.

    • Eileen

      Hi. Firstly I don’t think that you are reading the positive blogs properly. Secondly you are making guesses and then assumptions. Try asking questions that would maybe generate professional answers before guessing.

      • rob

        Eileen,

        You’ve got a lot to say about other people’s posts but we know nothing of you or your views. Are you just the ‘balanced view’ without substance or experience? Has your local council asked you to suddenly pay an additional charge that effectively descreases your income without treating all park users equitably? Or are you just supporting the charge because it doesn’t really matter to you?

      • Eileen

        Actually Rob, if you read the posts I have posted my view and Whole Life fitness comment was relating to my view. Im happy to answer all of your question. Q1. I have 32 years of experience of working in this area, so no, my balanced view is based on that. I am happy to share any of this experience. Q2. I have always paid a charge to the council its not new. Q3. Im supporting the charge as it is a business not equivalent to other park users and as previously noted in my comment view running large classes in a specific area for large profit charges are acceptable for additional maintenance of the grounds. I hope this answers your questions satisfactorily.

      • Hi Eileen,
        The charge might not be new to you but it is new to some areas, plus there is no joined up thinking between the councils so each has a different policy (some councils charge nothing). In fact there is not even joined up thinking in the one council, for instance PTs who use my park are not charged any fee , nor are professional dog walkers or childminders or nurseries (which might bring 8-10 children not just 2-3)

        Also you as an independent might have responded but I see the companies have stayed strangely quiet on what they are made to pay and if it’s per session, per trainer or just a yearly fee (at which point economies of scale kick in largely in their favour). However I maybe doing them a disservice.

        To be fair I think we are in partial agreement, I do not mind paying a fee (or maybe a % of what I earn).I think the council asking to see my insurance and qualifications is a good idea. However at the moment I am being judged on what the classes who have 20-30 attendees do rather than my class on its own merits (which actually does not use one spot). I would also like to think the councils applied a fair policy to all businesses and not just the ones that are easy to target.

  23. I would also be interested to know if the companies pay a fixed fee for using the parks which covers all their trainers or they too have to pay a per session fee.

  24. I have to agree with the majority of comments raised to date. There is a big difference between running a large group exercise session and conducting one-to-one or small group training in a public area, and it’s the small operation that is getting hit the hardest in this instance (£10 per session…seriously!!).

    Sadly its my experience that most local authorities haven’t got a clue when it comes to dealing with the issue because it’s new, only covers a relatively small portion of the community (only a handful of instructors in most parks where I am) and they’re just not set up to handle the issue. Net result is that they lump it in under the “events” heading and thats when things get silly.

    My advice for the one-to-one PT operators is to just ignore the whole issue until someone makes a big deal about it. In many towns the local authorities just don’t want the hassle of dealing with the fee and are more than happy to see people using the park.

    If it does become an issue then here’s how I handled it……I made an appointment to see my local MP, explained how valuable our service is in terms of public service, health (all the usual stuff!) and specifically easing the pressure on the NHS. I pointed out that all I needed from him was a letter of support and some relevant contacts in the authority which he was more than happy to do because it was good PR and he didn’t have to do anything other than sign a letter his staff wrote up! (hey, let’s make it easy for them to say yes!!). From that point it was relatively straight forward, whenever I got significant resistance I merely pointed out the amount of negative press they would get from hindering my access (especially as I had written support from further up the food chain!!).

    In the end it took a bit of time (and cheek!) to get what I needed but it was a worthwhile endeavour. What really irritates me is why REPs aren’t doing this for us already? Time to pull their finger out before they become complete laughing stock to their members!!!

  25. For all of those defending the charge (and as I have stated i don’t mind an admin charge to check qualifications/insurance or a reasonable charge I object to £10 a session which is just daylight robbery), do you think dog walkers should be charged to use the local parks?

    Phil, thanks for that idea re: MP I am exploring several options but I am hoping I can resolve it in a friendly manner with the council first.

  26. Rob

    Sad to see no response from REPS on here considering how long it has been active. Do you read your own blog? Why are you not responding to clear concerns from your own members?

  27. PedalPlonker

    I’m going to come at this from a customer perspective. I like training outdoors when the weather’s not horrendous – really I do. When I go cycling with my trainer, neither him nor me pay a premium to the council for the use of the bike lanes they invested in. If we choose to run along a canal, there’s no charge to British Waterways for the privilege. Yet if we want to do a workout in the park… ah, well, then you’re in trouble. Even thought this is the very same park where my dog craps three times a day and the bin is emptied by the Council at no extra charge to me, the same park where joggers go round and round for free… hell, it’s the same park where the council has PROVIDED FREE OUTDOOR GYM EQUIPMENT BUT NO INSTRUCTIONS! I’d be better off financially using the free stuff, doing myself an injury then suing my council. My trainer would be better off because he wouldn’t be paying for me to use the park in the first place. Hurrah!

    This whole proposal seems ludicrous – except, I think, for the larger businesses running regular boot camp classes. This I understand – and I think if a business wants to bring several people (a minimum group size ought to apply just to ensure trainers aren’t being ripped off completely) into a public space, that business should actually be entitled to a designated area, clean of dog foul, litter and debris and maintained to a high standard by the council that owns it. You might as well get something for the money, right?

    I’m not a REPs member – but it seems wrong reading this thread that an organisation people are subscribing to and spending money meeting the standards of seems to be trying to buff up an issue that the vast majority object to…

    • Tara (EezeeFit)

      As a cleint PedalPlonker you have hit the nail on the head. Would you be willing to pay the extra for your PT sessions?? because that is what will happen. If PTs are forced to pay this so called ‘fee’ then the extra cost will undoubtedly have to be added to the fee charged to clients. PT’s will find their clientell will decrease as many people find it hard to find this money to spend on themselves even though they know it will benefit them.

      Looking ahead all I can see is the UK becoming a big old fat country where the Government will HAVE TOO spend money on opening obesity clinics, paying for staff to fun these, surgeons to perform operations to have gastric bands fitted as they try and cope with the ever increasing waistline of the the UK population. The Benefit system will not be able to cope with the amount of people claiming disability allowance as they will have so many health problems. Social Security will hit the highest number ever as more people will claim as they won’t be able to work due to health reasons. The list is endless……

      So open your eyes, those of you sat at the top earning more money than us mere PT’s could imagine. Don’t put up barriers…….

      Let us PT’s help, we are a damn site cheaper!!!!

      • PedalPlonker

        Hi Tara
        Yep, some would say that’s the Mad Max apocalyptic view but just watch “Big Body Squad” on Channel 5 for a frightening glimpse of the lengths society has to go to in order to accommodate the already burgeoning overweight population.

        Sure, I can afford just the one hour a week with my trainer (totally worth it by the way, I’ve achieved things I’d never have done otherwise) – but only just. I’d be most annoyed if I had to cover an extra fee just for working out in the park, because I know for a fact that the council wouldn’t put any extra effort into stopping me from slipping on dog poo, sitting on glass etc.

        I feel for Whole Life Fitness – but would suggest that as it appears there’s no LAW under which you’re obliged to pay them, you negotiate an entitlement to some kind of return on your investment in their services. I’d gladly pay £7 instead of £5 if I knew some actual effort was being made by the “landowner” to improve the experience.

  28. Denise

    This is very depressing. I received confirmation of my REPs membership only yesterday and my excitement has been somewhat turned to dismay. I had been aware of this issue and despite my personal feelings about it I had been prepared to find out more and to see both sides.

    Of course this blog contains the thoughts of a limited number of professionals only, however it does seem that, if representative of those in the industry, it is only a small minority who are running fitness companies that support charges to PT’s for park use. The majority of individual trainers, with experience and who understand the reality of running their own PT business, find the idea unsupportable. It has been interesting to read those posts from trainers who include their own fees/charges which clearly show how a per session charge could turn a small profitable business into a non-profitable one.

    I am at the very beginning of my PT career, and whilst I am not naive enough to think I could earn stacks of money operating as an individual, I did think I would have the support of my local authority who claim to put the health of the nation as a priority. More than that, I am very disappointed to find that REPs are not commenting on the issue and appear to be supporting the cause to charge trainers for park use whilst ignoring their members views completely I do hope I’m wrong – REPs, as a new member, are you able to point me towards your official statement on this issue? Can you assure me that there has been full consultation amongst your members, or is this- “Postitive park charge stories needed”- it?

  29. Robert

    You have got to be joking, how can we be positive about being charged to use public spaces. Get real REPS not all of your members are attached to gyms. People actually like training outdoors, and you know what its healthier than being stuck inside an air-conditioned sweat filled building…

  30. pachi

    Well, well , well this is kind of “funny”. They want, and some keep on insisting, to have “Positive Park Stories” in this blog but as it shows there are not that many. At least not from the “regular” PT’s who just want to help the population and if possible make a living out of it.
    Thank you anyway for starting this blog even if it is not going the way you expected. And hopefully the people who are insisting on getting personal with PT’s exposing here their concerns stop doing it. Sometimes is better to listen and as we can see the concern is big. I am a REP’s member because I believe in regulations. I have never found them useful or friendly and in my believe they are going too far now with this. Same old story….they are not there to help us but to abuse us.
    Rob I love all your comments you are soooooo right. It makes me think that some of the comments made here are from REPS representatives using “regular” emails. Otherwise I dont understand their comments. I think they are in disguised. Thank you and keep up the fight!!!

  31. Liz

    I guarantee you will not get a dime off me.

  32. My story is getting worse, apparently the council don’t charge PTs for one-to-one sessions, only group sessions. So it won’t stop the people who can afford £30-50 (depending on area) an hour having one-to-one only the people who can afford the (approx) £5 group fee….madness.

    • EezeFit

      I offer 1/2 hour sessions for those clients that struggle with costs. For me it’s not all about money but I obviously have bills to pay etc etc but my aims and objectives are to genuinely lead people to a healthier lifestyle. The majority of my clients are very overweight and see them succeed is the best thing ever. What I would like to know what defines a ‘group’. Do the councils mean more than 1 person???

      Whilst this issue is being debated PT’s still need to continue to work so I think we should just go ahead and do that. If you use parks then continue…what legal right do the councils have to stop this. Will they ban us from using open space!!!!!! Go about your day as you normally do and don’t worry about it. Just act dumb. That is what I am doing and until I am marched off the park I will continue to use it.

      So go forth my fellow PT’s and go about your work in making our population a healthier one 🙂

      • Eileen

        A good option. I agree that on a one to one there should be no charge. As a business we operate the following for all of our programmes in terms of numbers.

        Personal Training is one to one and has long term individual periodised programming with facilitation by the trainer of all lifestyle factors in between.
        Small group Personal Training has the same long term individual periodised programming and depending on your coaching experience as a PT its between 2-4 clients at once. (Obviously the more advanced PT can do 4 and less experienced may only be comfortable with 2)
        Small Group has no long term individualised programme but suggests more one to one attention and detail and we go up to 10-12 for this again depending on coaching experience of the trainer
        Group for me would be above 12.

        My agreement with the council is for 12 and above group only. They wouldn’t even notice us doing one to one and I’m sure aren’t worried. They charge us for group

        I hope that helps.

  33. Interestingly enough I would be happier to pay a sum if I was conducting an hour or 30 min PT session.
    My PT session is a fixed cost, i.e I know that is how much I will earn if I turn up whilst my group session where I charge £5 (with a maximum of 10 attendees I allow) I can earn anything between £10 and £30 (never got 10, still working on it!) for the hour. I do group sessions for people who can’t afford my 30mins/60mins sessions and also because I genuinely love what I do, want more people to engage in fitness (whatever their financial situation) and as EezeFit says lead people to a healthier lifestyle (during my class i am happy to discuss nutrition, exercise during the rest of the week etc). This is mainly why I am fighting the charge rather than just rolling over and cancelling my class.
    Eileen thank you for that information that your council charges for 12 people or more. I might make that suggestion to our council.

    • Eileen

      I agree with that and I think in lots of ways we are all singing off the same sheet as none of us think a one to one should be charged but large group is acceptable which you can see from my response I would consider over 12. I only think this is acceptable as I monopolise an area of land for the time frame, also the tearing up of that piece of land is high and does require maintenance. Anyone who has taught large classes on grass I’m sure would understand this.

      If someone was hurt by say a branch falling on them and they went to a solicitor the solicitor would always sue the council and the instructor, its not an issue of the instructor claiming off the council (someone mis understood this point) its that a solicitor would recommend claiming against both. There are lots of other reasons as well. The council need to be aware your there and be happy with it.

      The main point everyone agrees on is one on one there should be no charge. Small group as well. Where my large group comments come in there doesn’t appear to be agreement. Most of the negative (for want of a better word) blog I have read comes from trainers who are not running large group out in parks and not making money. This is where we may all benefit from Rob’s previous suggestions of a national approach to a fee structure which REPs could help develop and this should be fair. I’m under no illusion that there are council’s with unfair charges and approaches however mine is fair and they help me and of course REPs wanted positive stories. Whether people agree with me or not mine is factual as that is what I currently teach as a freelance.

      • The Minority of the comments are from blinkered PTs with an “I’m alright jack” attitude. The rest of you here here , grow a pair and stand your ground. The other biffs support your fellow PTs and stop brown nosing the councils and REPs. You’ll get nothing for it except an ever increasing charge but then again … You’re alright !

  34. Rob

    So. Come on then REPS. Have you nothing to say to the members who have asked for your official position? Remember who pays for REPS

  35. Rob

    Well it has been 6 weeks since your members began to tell you what they think.And at least two of us have asked you outright for your opinion. So where are you REPS?

  36. anneiarchy

    I don’t see any reason to pay for park usage. Everyone is entitled to use the park, and other people use the park for their businesses as well, such as dogwalkers for instance.
    Do they also need to pay a special fee to use the park ?
    We are helping people to stay fit and healthy, which should mean less pressure on GPs, the NHS, local hospitals, etc if we are doing a good job.
    Being part of REPs I would expect it to be part of a benefit from being a REPs member.
    Having a REPs card should cover that cost if it has to be covered.
    And what if you do work in different parks and boroughs ? That just doubles/trebles the cost.
    This is totally ridiculous!

  37. anneiarchy

    I just wrote a whole comment and it disappeared. Aaaargh. So here I go again.

    I don’t see any reason why we should pay a special fee to use local parks. Other users don’t pay an extra charge to use the parks.
    We, and our clients pay council tax which covers local parks already.
    What about dogwalkers who use parks for their businesses ?
    And if it’s an issue of making sure we are properly insured, a REPs card should be enough if anyone bothers checking us out.

  38. I was interviewed recently on Radio 4’s You and Yours show about park charges. Whilst I don’t disagree with having to pay some sort of licence fee to use council parks for a business (any business that is, not just personal training or bootcamps), I do object to the fact that a PT with a small class pays the same rate as a PT with a large group. It should be a pro rata payment. In my area, it is the same charge.

    I also think that if you want to train a client in their local park which you probably wont use again, this shouldn’t be penalised by paying a charge to the council. I do think that if you organise a bootcamp at the same time on the same day every week, then you should at least make a contribution to the council as in fairness, they then won’t allow other bootcamps at that time, giving you free reign to use the park’s facilities.

    There are also the issues of value for money and health and safety. I’ve been teaching in the local park and there has been litter, broken glass and dog dirt. The council haven’t cleared it before my session, which once led to a woman cutting her hand on the glass. In the winter months, most of the parks aren’t adequately lit so they are just about no-go areas for training. The council do try to make improvements to facilities but are now under serious cutbacks so are limited to what they can do.

    There’s no doubt that there should be some sort of standard across the board as some councils do not charge for the use of their parks. There are pros and cons to paying charges but this really should be a subject that the Government needs to put on its health agenda as paying high fees could deter PTs in training people and therefore not fully addressing the ever-increasing obesity epidemic. We should be encouraged to help people get fit and healthy not penalised heavily but unfortunately, there are no current regulations so we are left in limbo.

  39. jenkcole

    I haven’t read through every single comment on here, but I think one major NEGATIVE point to this completely ridiculous, exploitative charge is the impact on the health of the nation. As some of the other trainers have stated in these comments, people will not be able to afford to hold outdoor training sessions, thus reducing the opportunity to exercise. This risk to the nation’s health comes second to the potential of charging self-employed trainers further, who ironically, are trying to IMPROVE the nations health whilst generating an income (in order to afford their council tax I might add).

    Promoting a healthy lifestyle? No….
    Encouraging bigger sacrifices in order to exercise? 100% YES!!!

    P.S. The unhealthier the nation, the bigger the costs to the NHS…

  40. jenkcole

    Good luck finding positive stories!

  41. I am a freelance personal trainer, having worked in many local authority parks as well as Richmond and Bushy (Royal) Parks over the last 12 years. Like the majority of trainers on here, this is my livelihood and I resent being asked to pay a penny to exercise with my clients in park facilities already being maintained by contributions from my Council tax. I have been approached on many occasions by parks rangers etc and have seen the situation worsen over the last couple of years.
    I would like to say how refreshing it is to see so many brilliant and articulate comments on here against this stealth tax. Like many of you, I believe there is a case for large group exercise classes to pay a fee…. But certainly not the personal trainer with his or her client taking a one to one session. We do not impact the environment in any way…in fact the opposite is true. We do not take up large areas of space, nor create mess or inhibit other parks users enjoyment. AS for all the indirect and direct benefits we provide to the NHS, this has already been well covered on here.
    I also agree with the earlier points…what about child minding groups, photographers, dog walking groups, horse riding groups etc…all of whom obtain an income from using local park facilities. Is this a level playing field….NO! Are we being unfairly targeted…YES!
    My main point is this. WE can go on and on extending this Blog with more and more of the same points of view. It is clear REPS have already decided on the stance they are going to take on this issue and it appears it conflicts directly with the views of the majority of its Members, who, by the way pay Membership fees to sustain its very existence….their’s irony for you!
    What is needed is positive action, and it is needed now. I believe personal trainers who agree with all of the above, need to form themselves into a recognised Group or Body with a name and an action plan. Someone may need to stand up from the ranks and offer to lead this. WE need one voice and to get organised…..otherwise an agreed licence fee across all local authorities will be in place before you know it.
    Has anyone actually questioned a lawyer on the legalities of all of this? For me this would be a first step. I am sure we must all know of at least one lawyer between us who could offer some assistance?
    Every single one of my clients is supportive of the views we have all expressed and think what is happening is a disgrace.
    WE need to get a petition organised to local MP’s and also to central Government. This all takes time and effort, but a group of individuals from amongst us is needed now to lead this…..before it is too late.
    David

  42. The Register of Exercise Professionals has never supported councils and local authorities charging fitness instructors to use their parks and open spaces. I have been on several radio stations stating just that and even quoting directly from our members. The piece on the blog asks for examples of good practice, which may or may not include payment for park use; it is clear from the responses we have had since this issue first came about that some of you do have good examples of payment that you are happy with.

    Turning to our role, the Register was not set up to protect or work on behalf of the registrants, it was set up to ‘Protect the Public’ and professionalise the industry. That means that we are regulatory and actually remove people from the Register who breach the REPs Code of Practice and we also turn away approximately 500 instructors and trainers who do not meet the standards, but are still practicing, every year. However, the Register took advantage of an opportunity and has opened channels of communication with councils and LAs, on behalf of its members. (I was a PT and used parks and know exactly what this means to a PT). They have agreed to publish any examples we have of good practice and this may include trying to ensure that if charges are to be made they are made fairly. In particular, if charging to use parks is inevitable, REPs would like to see a reciprocal deal between boroughs that do decide to charge, which would allow instructors to use a single licence in all parks and open spaces.

    As such when REPs was approached by the LGA to gather positive stories about working relationships between PTs and parks and examples of best practice, we were pleased to publish the story asking our members to share their experiences.

    Instructors being charged to use parks is clearly an issue that affects many members and REPs would like to see some kind of resolution to it and will work, in any way it can, on behalf of its members. However, as a public register set-up to protect members of the public, as opposed to being a trade body its sway and influence is limited.

    • Rob

      Sarah – we have no idea who you are. I clicked on your name to view your profile and found that it led nowhere. But a quick look at Linkedin tells me that you are a freelance communications manager. It does not mention you being a personal trainer. It is clear from your comment that this is supposed to be a formal statement from REPS. Thank you for finally replying to this post on your very own forum. Why did it take so long?

      I think claiming to be “regulatory” is a little bit of an aggrandisement for a voluntary register. For a self-employed trainer like myself, membership has been nothing but a complication and has added nothing to my business. I am considering whether to rejoin next year. The fact that you did not even bother to reply to this for so long speaks volumes about how you see yourselves – as a law above us. Remember – we choose whether or not to join.

      You claim that you do not support a charge for the use of parks, but go on to say that you think it may be inevitable. Well perhaps it is when the nearest thing we have to a representative body seems so keen to promote the idea.

      What about the issues raised in this Blog? What about the vast number of other “trades” that use parks and gardens for commercial gain (dog-walkers, nannies)? Are you going to sit back and allow us to be picked on unfairly?

      What about the claims that the councils only want to do it to ensure that we are qualified and insured? Are you not going to stand up and tell THEM that you are a regulatory body – and that carrying a Level 4 REPS card is a pretty good proof that I am a “proper” trainer?

      As a “regulatory body” perhaps you have a legal team that could look into the legality of this attempt to levy a tax on exercising. Council land is not owned by some sort of body -it is public land that is cared for by the council on behalf of all the people that pay their council tax .
      . I don’t even think they have the right to charge for “normal” and unexclusive use of it.

      • Hi Rob, I posted this reply on behalf of Jean-Ann Marnoch, REPs’ Registrar, who has worked as an exercise professional for the best part of 27 years. I’m sorry you feel so aggrieved, and I apologise that it took so long to reply as well. I’ll certainly pass the rest of your comments to Jean-Ann.

      • Hi Sarah
        Thank you for your reply and it is good to get clarification as to your role in this debate. Like Rob, I clicked on your link and was confused why you did not state your role at the outset?
        I have to say I completely agree with Robs points in all of this. I have also made my own views very clear…see my earlier post on here April 12th 2012.
        I have over 30 years experience in the leisure industry, including the last 12 years as a freelance personal trainer.
        I would be grateful if you could also ask Jean-Ann Marnoch to respond directly to the following questions.
        1) Will you continue to represent the views of REPS on this debate or will Jean-Ann be responding directly to the concerns of Members in future?

        2) I have re-read your introduction to this online blog. You state you are looking for positive case studies which will ‘’be circulated via the LGA’s newsletter to its local government members to try to promote successful working arrangements’’

        Please explain why you are not circulating negative case studies to the LGA Newsletter, which make up over 90% of the contributions on this blog?

        3) As a freelance Communications Officer for Skills Active, would you not say the approach you are adopting is unrepresentative and misleading?

        4) Having read your entry on the blog, Sarah, I picked up mixed messages. You stated; ”The Register of Exercise Professionals has never supported councils and local authorities charging fitness instructors to use their parks and open spaces”.
        This is great news….so why on Earth are you entering into a dialogue and supplying contributions to LGA Newsletters, an organisation actively seeking to implement charges and tax personal trainers like myself, across the country?

        5) You also stated; ‘’ it is clear from the responses we have had since this issue first came about that some of you do have good examples of payment that you are happy with’’.
        Please check again Sarah. Of the 71 comments on the blog, the overwhelming majority are negative comments. Are you seriously going to ignore them?

        6) You state; ‘’the Register took advantage of an opportunity and has opened channels of communication with councils and LAs, on behalf of its members. (I was a PT and used parks and know exactly what this means to a PT)”
        Why did you not take this opportunity to vehemently oppose the charges being implemented, rather than engage in positive dialogue with the LGA?

        7) The action you are taking in supplying a minority of unrepresentative ‘’positive park charge stories’’ to Local Authority Newsletters, can only be seen, in the eyes of everyone, as condoning this very practice, and condemning thousands of trainers, like myself, to the burdon of another tax….unfair and unjust in the extreme…and quite possibly illegal.

        8) May I suggest, your time would be better spent liaising with the numerous Health bodies, NHS Trusts, medical agencies and health charities and to supply them with the many negative park charge stories to be found on this blog?

        They will be extremely grateful and supportive of the great work we are doing in improving the health and well being of the nation. They would, I am sure, be shocked and concerned of the charging practices going on and would most likely lend their voice to support us.

        Surely this is where the focus should lie, rather than liaising with the LGA, and is more representative of the thoughts and wishes of your members.
        I look forwards to your reply

        Regards

        David Boost

      • 1) Will you continue to represent the views of REPS on this debate or will Jean-Ann be responding directly to the concerns of Members in future?

        As Communications Officer Sarah responds on behalf of REPs and or posts comments I have written myself.

        2) I have re-read your introduction to this online blog. You state you are looking for positive case studies which will ‘’be circulated via the LGA’s newsletter to its local government members to try to promote successful working arrangements’’
        Please explain why you are not circulating negative case studies to the LGA Newsletter, which make up over 90% of the contributions on this blog?

        The LGA is already aware of the negative feelings around the parks issue but wanted to ascertain, via REPs’ members, if there were any positive stories that could be used as examples to encourage better ways of working. We will be passing all comments to them both positive and negative.

        3) As a freelance Communications Officer for Skills Active, would you not say the approach you are adopting is unrepresentative and misleading?

        SkillsActive and REPs are the same company and Sarah freelances for both (and has done for many years).

        4) Having read your entry on the blog, Sarah, I picked up mixed messages. You stated;”The Register of Exercise Professionals has never supported councils and local authorities charging fitness instructors to use their parks and open spaces”.
        This is great news….so why on Earth are you entering into a dialogue and supplying contributions to LGA Newsletters, an organization actively seeking to implement charges and tax personal trainers like myself, across the country?

        When we first learnt about the parks issue the Register contacted various councils involved and put the arguments against charging (as raised by our members) to them. We also went on several radio stations to put that point across. This is not something that the Register is set up to do, but where we can help we will. To add to the difficulty of this issue is the fact that the organisations running parks are very disparate and range from National Trusts to Local Authorities. I was at a completely different meeting where someone from the LGA was present and seized the opportunity to discuss the problem. As there is no one organisation regulating the parks he thought there was little they could do but did offer to use their newsletter to circulate any examples we could find of good practice. This is simply an attempt to contribute to working towards a solution, nothing more. It is because of this on-going involvement and open dialogue between REPs and Local Authorities that the LGA asked us to see if there were any positive stories out there.

        5) You also stated; ‘’ it is clear from the responses we have had since this issue first came about that some of you do have good examples of payment that you are happy with’’.
        Please check again Sarah. Of the 71 comments on the blog, the overwhelming majority are negative comments. Are you seriously going to ignore them?

        As I said before we’ll be passing all comments to the LGA – including the negative ones.

        6) You state; “the Register took advantage of an opportunity and has opened channels of communication with councils and LAs, on behalf of its members. (I was a PT and used parks and know exactly what this means to a PT)”
        Why did you not take this opportunity to vehemently oppose the charges being implemented, rather than engage in positive dialogue with the LGA?

        The Register is not in a position to oppose the charges but will do all it can to make sure the views of its members are heard. We believe keeping an open and frank dialogue going between us and LAs is the best way to achieve this.

        7) The action you are taking in supplying a minority of unrepresentative ‘’positive park charge stories’’ to Local Authority Newsletters, can only be seen, in the eyes of everyone, as condoning this very practice, and condemning thousands of trainers, like myself, to the burden of another tax….unfair and unjust in the extreme…and quite possibly illegal.

        We are happy to pass on thoughts about park issues both negative and positive to the LGA.

        8) May I suggest, your time would be better spent liaising with the numerous Health bodies, NHS Trusts, medical agencies and health charities and to supply them with the many negative park charge stories to be found on this blog?

        We are working hard with the medical colleges to promote Registered instructors as part of the solution to the obesity crisis in this country. Where we see an opportunity to raise this issue we will, however as we stated before this is not what the Register is there to do, it exists to ensure that Registrants have the knowledge, competence and skills to carry out specific roles. Its main aim is to protect the public and professionalise the industry.

        Jean-Ann Marnoch, Registrar, Register of Exercise Professionals

  43. Hi David, I’ve passed your comments on to Jean-Ann. She is away at the moment but I’m sure she will reply as soon as she can. Thanks for taking the trouble to reply. Sarah

  44. Adam83

    In my opinion REPs is nothing but a joke. My clients couldn’t give a toss if I’m REPs registered or not. In fact 90% of them didn’t even know the register exists. On the odd occasion I’ve had to contact REPs the information I’ve been given has been patchy at best. God forbid you challenge anything they say either. All you’ll get is the attitude of a stroppy teenager (even if you can prove they’re wrong.) So I’m not surprised they’re, in a roundabout way, supporting this pay-to-train on public ground.

    As for local councils, well, it’s another reason to take money from us. I run a Bootcamp as a part time job (I actually serve in the forces so I can seriously call it that) in my local park 3 times a week. It’s run at a time that doesn’t interfere with other park users. There’s no shouting or screaming and if a group of runners, walkers or dog walkers want to come through then I just move my guys to the side to allow others plenty of room and smile whilst saying hello to them.

    The park has installed some park-fit style equipment (you know the sort of stuff; pull up bars, dip bars, etc) which I sometimes incorporate into my session but if there are others using the equipment then I just change my plans so as not to interfere with what they are doing.

    Today I was challenged by a local park attendant. He was super nice but explained that the new parks manager had seen my Bootcamps and deemed that if I’m running a business then I’m to pay a nominal fee and produce my the relevant insurance documents. I’ve no problems with the insurance proof but I fail to see why I should be paying to use a public ‘owned’ space ‘maintained’ by the council. I do not earn a fortune from these sessions as I rarely have more than 6 guys turn up. I said I would contact this manager out of courtesy but if I’m paying then any other PT’s who use the park (of which there are 2 I know of) are to do the same. “Of course, so if you send me their details we’ll contact them too” was the park attendants reply. WTF? Why am I doing their leg work? In reality I believe that he saw me standing there and chanced his arm as I’ve been there the same time every week for the last 2 months and if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d bumped into a mate and was talking to him I’d have shut up shop and gone home 30 minutes previously.

    The way I see it is if we are to pay to use this space then surely that space becomes ours for the duration of our session and I can tell others who are using the area to do one? I can quite imagine how that would go down…..

    For those who bring up the argument of paying for floor space in a gym. Well, that’s a non starter. When you pay for floor space you are guaranteeing exclusive use of that area for a period of time. If you went into the gym and the studio you had paid for was in use you would have full rights to ask whoever was using it to move on. You don’t have that right in public space. You’re also paying for the right to advertise under an established and permanent fixture, the gym building itself isn’t going anywhere whereas you’re not allowed to erect advertising in my local park.

    For those of you arguing that you’re “promoting health and fitness in the local area.” Please, spare me. You’re making money (albeit not a lot in most cases) providing a service for those who want to get fit. If you was seriously promoting healthy living for the good of the local community you’d be doing it for free.

    Also, if it where up to me I’d ban anyone with no previous service in the armed forces from using the term ‘Bootcamp’. The amount of these sessions taking place under this banner fronted by some 50 something man or woman whose sole contact with the military was watching an episode of Soldier Soldier 15 years ago. Leave the proper Bootcamps to those who’ve been there please. No military service? Then you’re running a fitness club in the park. (OK, I admit the last part has nothing to do with pay-to-train but it really bugs me.)

  45. It seems the issue still hasn’t been resolved and probably never will. It’s over a year now since this issue was raised and we are still debating it. What a shame the authorities can’t come up with a solution to satisfy all of the trainers trying to run a valid business and trying to make a living.

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