Fitness Crackdown: Santa Monica Gets Tough On Trainers

Keeping up New Year's resolutions to get in shape might get tougher thanks to Santa Monica City Council's proposition to ramp up regulations on outdoor fitness classes this spring.

The council is considering banning all classes with more than two participants in the city's most popular workout spot, Palisades Park.

"Palisades park is a public park and doing commercial enterprise in a public park or a public facility really should have regulations around it," says Santa Monica's Director of Community and Cultural Services Karen Ginsberg. "The recommendation is to limit private trainers for compensation."

Additionally, the council could impose a 15 percent fee on all trainers' profits over and above the already required business license, permit, insurance, and city tax.

ReasonTV's Kennedy tried out one of the outdoor classes, Sonki Fitness' Bootcamp, to see what all the fuss was about.

"It's a park, it's not a museum," says Kennedy, "this is what people should be doing with their outdoor spaces."

Founder Sonki Hong has been training his students in Palisades Park for over a decade.

"They should try to really work with small businesses like me instead of making it harder for me to survive," says Sonki.  

Written, produced and shot by Tracy Oppenheimer. Additional camera by Paul Detrick.

About 4 minutes.

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  • RPR2||

    get out of the fitness training business and get into the friend business.

  • Drake||

    Silly trainers, the parks are for bums.

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||


  • OldMexican||

    "Fitness Crackdown: Santa Monica Gets Tough On Trainers"

    We can't have unlicensed trainers just running around, doing business unsupervised! Why, that would be chaos! People need protection! After all, people are too stupid... uh, too busy to ponder these things, they thus need government!

  • Hyperion||

    So you want a big nanny state, liberals? then sit down and STFU! Or should I say bend over. You get what you ask for, dummies.

  • Delroy||

    This is similar to a situation I saw in Venice, Florida. My girlfriend and I have gone down there in Winter to visit with her parents who have a condo down there. A yoga instructor offers free yoga on the beach most mornings. We like going - it's a nice way to start the day - stretching on the beach in the morning sunshine.

    The instructor has a backpack that is left open for any participants to make a donation. Most people leave a dollar. There is no pressure to make a contribution, but it's so enjoyable, most do (we always did). Some mornings she has over 50 and close to 100 participants. At about a buck apiece, she could be raking in some good money. More power to her!

    The county/city decided that she was using a public place for profit or some such issue. I tend to believe that some yoga studio made a complaint. The thing is, the beach is empty at the time she does the yoga - nobody is inconvenienced. The little coffee shop (in a government-owned building) near the beach is getting business that it otherwise wouldn't be. The people who attend the beach yoga are not going to go to a regular yoga studio. The beach yoga is mostly stretching and caters to the senior crowd (snowbirds) that tends to live in Venice.

    When we last visited, we found out that she was hit with a yearly "rental" fee (in the thousands of dollars), so now she actively requests contributions to offset the fee.

    It's just stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    People in government feel that preventing economic activity stimulates the economy.

  • Loki||

    I'm sure it "stimulates" them, know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge? Say no more!

  • Delroy||

    Link to editorial about the free beach yoga:

    Free yoga at Venice Beach became so popular that someone had to fix it.
    In effect, the county has created a problem where one did not exist.
    And, no one wants her to leave. She's exactly the type of activity the [county] parks department encourages, Brown says.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Right. The government isn't tryannical. Right.

  • OldMexican||

    The councilvermin... I mean, councilwoman at the beginning makes it sound as if these regulations are reasonable and not onerous. Once the camera switches to a regular person, the regulations sound much less reasonable and much more like blue code laws, or revenue(*)-collecting schemes.

    (*) Loot. I'm just using the lefty euphemism du jour.

  • OldMexican||

    Yes! Encouragement!!

  • albo||

    I agree with Kennedy to a point, but remember that public means for everybody.

    If someone is bogarting a place in the park every day so that others can't use it, then that's a bit anti-social and should be regulated like every park regulates the use of pavillions, campsites, etc. so that everybody gets a chance to use it.

    Like bums, businesses can't just set up shop and claim a public place for their own use all or much of the time.

  • Adam330||

    If that were the case, then you could justify some regulation of when they can be there, how much space they can use, and it would apply to anyone doing similar activities, regardless of whether it was commercial or not. That's not what the city is proposing here.

    Also, the city councilwoman didn't claim that others are being prevented from using the park. Her explicit objection was that people were making money by using the park.

  • Sevo||

    albo| 1.23.13 @ 1:06PM |#
    "I agree with Kennedy to a point, but remember that public means for everybody."

    So you'll regulate who can use it when?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And the trainers and their customers aren't part of everybody? I see no evidence anyone's use or enjoyment of the park is in any way diminished by this sort of activity. Heck the presence of the groups probably makes the parks safer.

  • OldMexican||

    What do you get when you become a socialist?
    You're burdened with fees and regulations,
    Your business is banned from public parks,
    That's why
    You should never be a socialist again!
    Ah! Never be a socialist again!

  • Loki||

    "Palisades park is a public park and doing commercial enterprise in a public park or a public facility really should have regulations around it," says Santa Monica's Director of Community and Cultural Services Karen Ginsberg. "The recommendation is to limit private trainers for compensation."

    Translation: "We don't want anyone engaging in any kind of icky, dirty capitalism or making money in any way on public property."

    God, what a shitstack.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ewwwww! Profits!

  • Paul.||

    "Palisades park is a public park...[which means you don't own it]"

  • Libertarius||

    "Public property" is the ultimate anti-concept. Who the hell owns it? Who the hell is responsible for it? Who knows? But the bureaucrats get to arbitrarily tell you what you can and cannot do on it, and to skim off the top and grant favors to their cronies and on and on and on...

  • sarcasmic||

    The public means everyone but you.

    You're not allowed to use it because it's supposed to be available to everyone else.

  • An0nB0t||

    Who the hell owns it?

    The State. Political elites allow plebes to use that "public" property when and as they please, which is generally the same criteria that Bill Clinton employs when he allows teenage girls into the backyard pool.

  • Libertarius||

    No shit you guys. I'm saying that the nebulous nature of public property destroys the concept of responsibility; with state property, it's everybody pointing their fingers at each other when shit goes wrong, and no one is ultimately accountable because no one actually owns it.

  • An0nB0t||

    What I'm saying is that someone does actually own it: the political elite. And, like every other action they participate in, their ownership and supervision of this property is totally without consequence. The lesser scam is that they convince JQP that this magical "public property" somehow belongs to him because he gets to legally trespass on it a few hours a week if he so chooses or, in the case of public roads, must.

  • Paul.||

    Oh, and nitpick, the council isn't trying to "shut them down", they're trying to tax them, regulate them, and set them free.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Yet, when I was in Santa Monica on Saturday, there was a Farmer's Market happening at Virginia Avenue Park. Of course, maybe those vendors pay rent for the space.

    Why don't the bums have to pay rent for their sleeping accommodations, or toilet facilities?

  • Pollywog||

    Will they also be licensing the daycares, the schools, the retirement homes and the hospitals that bring their 'clients' to the park for a little R&R?

  • Ryan60657||

    He ought to stop charging fees, and just ask for a "suggested donation" in the same amount.

  • AAnderson||

    Ryan above has a good point--beautiful little loophole that would leave the city next to powerless.

    Also: Kennedy, marry me.

  • Libertarius||

    Kennedy still has it going on, the way she minxes around in those spanx is an objective value.

  • ||

    Santa Monica's Director of Community and Cultural Services--

    In what rational world would such a creature even exist?

  • An0nB0t||

    Whither Tracy?


    The LA Times did a story about this and the issue is the sheer number of trainers who use conduct classes at the park (75+ classes a week). I live about a mile away from this park and, to be honest, charging fees seems like the free market solution to what is essentially a congestion issue. The irony, of course, is all of the homeless people who literally live at so many of the other parks in Santa Monica making them undesirable places to visit.

  • Personal Trainer||

    It seems a bit absurd that the city says the park is not meant for group lessons, unless they themselves also make money from it. I'm a personal trainer myself and my clients love to work out outdoors. It would be silly to have to pay to go into nature.

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