For fitness entrepreneurs who want to avoid the overhead and headaches that come with a brick-and-mortar fitness studio, outdoor training is an appealing option. Public parks offer open spaces with groomed lawns, playground equipment, and sometimes even a public exercise par course. Taking your clients outdoors offers physical and mental health benefits that supersede those of indoor exercise. A 2011 review published in “Environmental Science and Technology” found that subjects who exercised outdoors experienced increased energy and decreased tension, confusion, anger, and depression. Especially significant for adherence was the finding that outdoor exercisers experienced greater enjoyment and satisfaction, and were more likely to repeat the experience.
Before you venture outdoors with your clients, take into consideration that public spaces have their limitations. Your rights to occupy and use the space do not take precedence over the rights of others. In fact, the opposite may be true. Public parks belong to the public, and are paid for with tax dollars. Your training sessions should not infringe on the activities of others. If children are playing on the playground, invading that space with a group of adults is inappropriate. Likewise, occupying open green space that others use for sunbathing, picnicking and relaxing can be an infringement and an annoyance. Always have an alternative plan to avoid becoming a public nuisance.
Pay to Play
Some municipalities that enjoy temperate weather year-round have experienced vast usage of public spaces for private fitness businesses. In response to public complaints, the cities have begun to monitor and regulate business activities, and to charge fees and taxes to independent fitness trainers. Some parks may charge as much as a gym for usage by personal trainers, according to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association. Before venturing into the public domain, research your city’s policies for licensing, permits and taxes. You may be able to negotiate fitness services in exchange for usage, such as health fairs, seminars or fitness classes.
Your city will no doubt require you to provide full insurance coverage for your clients, in case of injury. Keep your insurance up to date and keep a hard or electronic copy of your policy readily available. When using public spaces, thoroughly examine exercise surfaces and equipment. Grassy surfaces are often uneven and may be littered with rodent holes. Playground and par course equipment may experience environmental damage and may not safely support an adult’s body weight. Weather is also an important safety factor. Extreme heat and humidity, lightening during a thunderstorm, or cold wet weather can all create scenarios that result in environmental injury or illness.
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Environmental Science and Technology: Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review
IDEA Health and Fitness: Outdoor Fitness: The Permits You Need
Outdoor Fitness: The Permits You Need
Los Angeles Magazine: This is My Land
Science Daily: Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Confirmed
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1 thought on “Out of the Box: Fitness Training in Public Spaces”
Thank you, Michelle! That cleared up some questions I had. I also liked the statistics about client adherence and training outside as well!