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Payment in the Park


Posted by Cags R on 27 January 2012 at 12:00 PM

A recent article has drawn attention to the fact that many personal trainers and fitness instructors who operate their businesses in parks are asked to pay charges to the council.

Parks and common land have always been designed to encourage outdoor pursuits and activites but should we be paying for the privilege? If park lands are free to use for the public then should professionals be charged to run their businesses out of them?

There’s a great debate going on in the Training in the Park Tribe about whether we should pay to exercise on common community land. Andrew thinks it’s a ‘disgrace’ but Nick B has a more sympathetic ear to the new measures. Charges are already in place in many councils around the UK but what does this mean for people working in the personal fitness industry and for those who use their services?

Will paying for the use of land push the accessibility of exercise further out of reach for those who desperately need help to get motivated for fitness? Personal trainers aren’t for everyone but their services help to promote activeness in a society which is possibly a little too fond of the sofa!

Join in the debate and have your say!

  • Encourage

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    absolutely think it should be free, at worst you should have to book in advance so that the place isnt overrun by PTs and their clients on the day. If you make it expensive the costs will get passed down onto the customer and exercise becomes more expensive yet again.

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    I am thinking that you'll have some of those people who will keep exercising, even they can't afford a daily entrance to their favourite park ... And then, you'll find them in the streets, making it even more uncomfortable and unsafe for everybody (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, runners, ... ) Can you imagine this same number of runners, in the middle of the streets of London? In London, you have a fatal accident at least every month implicating a runner or a cyclist on the road... More of them on those roads, will mean more victims. Keep it free, keep it simple !


    As I said in the original thread it is not free, we already pay for the parks with our council tax.

    Nick B and Joanna R encouraged this.


    So long as the park facilities are still available for other members of the public I think PTs should be able to use it for free. In the original bbc article ( it also seems as though the people paying for it aren't receiving better quality facilities. If it were a matter of having new equipment available I think cover charges would be justifiable.

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    Seems hard to draw the line between a group of people turning up for an organised fitness session and the other people who run in groups without instruction. If there's no clear leader of the session, who pays then? I'd be gutted if I had to pay any more than I already do in council tax to use my local park.


    There is no plan (as far as I am aware) to make individuals pay anything extra to use a park or public space. As Haemish rightly points out each individual has already 'paid' for the privilege via their council tax. If you feel strongly enough about the issue and have absolutely no problem with someone running a business for free on land that indirectly partly belongs to you, you should lobby your local council. Each council is in power purely to represents the needs of the people in the community. They will only react to the loudest voice so lobby your community and do something about it. But also consider the possible benefit that the revenue can generate. I have played and organised softball, baseball and football in public parks and have always paid the local authority for the privilege to do so. Is a personal fitness trainer paying the local authority to run his business in the same public space any different?

    Joanna R and Adrian K encouraged this.


    good points Nick, it depends how heavily they decide to charge the PTs

    Nick B and Joanna R encouraged this.


    Did you receive anything other than the use of the land for your money Nick? The government is putting money into sport with one hand whilst taking with another. Personal trainers will be paying Income Tax and Council Tax like all professionals, is that not enough? The costs charged by authorities will not come out of their income, it will be put onto the clients!

    Joanna R encouraged this.


    The council cut the grass and marked out the pitch. So yes there was an added benefit. So presumably charges to fitness trainers will be proportional to the benefit they receive. I also pay council tax and income tax. But I don’t run my business on public land. The transfer of cost is the hard reality of business and it would be up to the individual clients to decide whether they get value from the instructor to make it worthwhile. I will regularly climb at Harrisons Rocks near Tunbridge Wells, it is National Trust land and therefore belongs to the nation but I will make a monetary contribution to the upkeep of the place upon leaving. I do not expect to use the facilities for free. Is there any evidence or statistics indicating that the payment schemes already introduced by local authorities has had an effect on the amount of fitness trainers operating on public land or had a detrimental effect on the client base. And do you know what level of charge is being levied? I was under the impression it was in the region of £7 a week. So assuming on average a class of 10 are attending a session and the instructors holds 1 class a day that would equate to each person paying an additional 10p per class if the instructor wished to pass on the cost.

    encouraged this.

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