In Denver, group exercise is a public nuisance

City governments often struggle to keep public parks void of vandals and vagrants. In Denver, public enemy No. 1 is cloaked in Lycra and running shoes.

City governments often struggle to keep public parks void of vandals and vagrants. In Denver, one of its public enemies is cloaked in Lycra and running shoes.

The city--its identity largely tied to health, fitness and outdoor adventure--has been waging a battle against group exercise classes held in public parks since last year, reported the New York Times.

The city of Denver doesn't allow commercial activity without a permit. In the past, the rule applied to festivals, races and food vendors; not to yoga classes. That has since changed, largely due to the growing prevalence of outdoor group fitness classes.

The upshot? Folks who want to charge a fee for a boot camp at Civic Center Park--the same public park where tens of thousands of people attended the annual 420 marijuana smoke out celebration in April--will need a permit.

Popular neighborhood parks like "Wash" Park or Central Park have become hotbeds of fitness activity, particularly in the warmer months. CrossFit, boot camps and other organized group classes--held by personal trainers and instructors who are either self-employed or connected to a local gym or business--are a common sight at public parks and neighborhood open spaces.

The throngs of sweaty people participating in running and jumping drills, sit-up and push-ups is apparently so offensive that city government took action. City and private officials say the groups can be a nuisance and monopolize the public facilities. They also argue that personal trainers and fitness centers are taking advantage of taxpayer-funded public spaces.

The Denver Parks & Recreation advisory board adopted the permit policy in May. The fee structure was tabled to allow for more discussion. Last month, the board voted to send its fee recommendation to a city council committee for approval.

Under the recommendation, a summer season permit for 90 minutes in an exclusive-use zone in a tier one park will be $24.50 to $32.50, depending on time of day. For instructors and businesses who hold outdoor exercise classes every day, sometimes several times a day, these permit fees would take a significant bite out of their profits. Lower fees have been recommended for summer permits for tier two, or lesser-used parks as well as winter season permits.

The recommendation will go to the Denver City Council Land Use Transportation and Infrastructure committee July 16 for approval.

Photo: Port of San Diego

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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