Beach Cities Limit Fitness Classes on Public Beaches and Parks

by on October 18, 2013 · 12 comments

in California, Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach

Sweaty Beach Boot Camp And Beach Yoga At W South Beach Hotel & ResidencesHave you ever been at the beach or one of the green grass parks near a beach and been inundated with a large group doing exercise or yoga and being led by a trainer?

Throughout Southern California, from LA to OB, parks and beaches have been experiencing an influx of organized joggers or people exercising. Personal trainers are taking their classes out doors to public beaches and parks, to take advantage of the great weather.  Every public beach has seen its swarm of organized  fitness groups using the public space – at times – for a private profit.

There is a pushback happening. Local residents at different beach cities have taken issue with the group fitness classes.  And they’re complaining about the human traffic jams in parks and on beaches enjoyed and appreciated for their beauty, solitude, nature-setting, etc.

Up in Santa Monica, the city is dealing with what it calls “fitness fanatics” in its Palisades Park, right on the ocean.  The park has become a giant outdoor gym on most days with stunning ocean views.  This  has become a problem for local residents, whose complaints have been heard in City Hall. The city is talking about cracking down  on the fitness craze, and officials are putting together guidelines to regulate trainers who use public parks and beaches for their classes, which could result in higher fees.

The LA Times reports that:

Even some personal trainers admit that the scene at Palisades Park has gotten out of control. Although some trainers and boot camp operators have city permits and insurance, there are unlicensed instructors there as well.

The city estimated that in a single week in October, 73 group fitness classes and 74 private classes were held in Palisades Park. Trainers estimate that hundreds of people are served by a few dozen instructors.

Santa Monica is definitely not the only Southern California city dealing with this new type of problem:

Redondo Beach allows only city-sponsored classes in public parks and beaches. Beverly Hills prohibits groups larger than two from its parks, and the city of Los Angeles charges boot camp operators $60 per hour.

Go here for more from LA Times article re Santa Monica.


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

obecean October 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

Good while it lasted I suppose. These are commercial enterprises that don’t belong in the commons, unless they are willing to substantial usage fees. Just too many of these commercial gatherings in public parks to not do something about it.


livein0b October 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I agree, they act like they own the public beach/park! Now, can someone help me with this problem?
there is a man who parks his trailor and leaves it parked at the end of Cape May to store the volleyball equipment that he then sets up on a good portion of sand, he may move this trailor to one side of the street or the other, for street sweeping per the City of SD parking regulation signs, sometimes! One day my neighbors were setting up to play horseshoes and were told by this man, that he pays the city for exclusive use of that part of the beach and they aren’t allowed to be there! Seriously ?! can you buy permits for sand now? I appreciate any feedback!
thanks and BTW, when you see the yoga/exercising people, stand as close as you can to the group and join in! They really hate that
keep up the good work OB Rag


Tyler October 19, 2013 at 6:08 am

Yeah. That’s the Vavi guy. I would call the company and see if they actually have something worked out with the city. Agreed on the annoyance.


Geez October 19, 2013 at 10:58 am

Yeah, that’s the VAVI group. I’ve had more than one not-so-pleasant interaction with them when I was setting up my own volleyball games and was told that I could not use “their reserved space”. They claim they have a permit that allows them to use that space.

What they DID have was a permit that allows them to use the beach for an organized event…needed when they exceed XX number of people or charge money. What they DID NOT have was anything that said that they were allowed exclusive use of that specific space. It said that they were allowed to set up on the beach in OB “at the discretion of the Life Guards”. They interpret this as saying that they have priority rights to that location because the Life Guards (presumably) said it was OK to be there. I believe the statement “at the discretion of the Life Guards” is there to ensure that they do not interfere with the access roads the Guards cone off, nothing more.

I believe they know they don’t have exclusive rights to that area, but like to act as though they do. If they truly had priority rights to that space, they wouldn’t get there at 7:00am and lay out all their nets for a 10:00 league!


Cape Maynard October 21, 2013 at 7:55 am

I live in that area and one of my neighbors told me Vavi pays the city 40k a year for that spot.


Frank Gormlie October 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Doing yoga is not the issue; the issue is private enterprises making money off their “free” use of public beaches and parks, without the public having some kind of recourse.


nostalgic October 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm

But there is nothing to prevent the public from joining in, is there? Except the surly response from the instructor, of course.


nostalgic October 19, 2013 at 7:45 am

The city already has a mechanism for permitting events in designated locations for a fee. Done through Park & Rec.

So, it is easy to call and find out if a permit was issued.


want2surf October 20, 2013 at 8:14 am

You just can’t claim to set up a business on public property. Even food trucks have to pay fees (it’s a public road) and use designated areas.
If OB decides a specific area of beach is open for use (for a fee) by all of these businesses, they could work out who uses it and when. But I hope not.


Kelsey Lynore October 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

There’s also an impact on living quality for nearby residents. I’m right across the street from the new condo project on Saratoga. I do yoga in the park regularly after my runs. I love it! It’s why I moved here! But the last thing I want to hear is loud fitness instructors screaming at their clients — which I do hear on occasion from *inside* my apartment! They quite literally take over, and because there’s money involved, they’re terribly brash and entitled, like some herd of alien beasts! It’s not a party, not a jam session, not volleyball, not a personal conversation, not people merely living — it’s a stressed out fitness class! Uh-uh. I don’t want to live in a gym class. I want to live by a public park. Big difference.


John O. October 23, 2013 at 10:13 am

It really hasn’t had much of an impact on me. But for some reason I’m slightly annoyed with it as well. I guess I’m a tad jealous that I don’t get to work outside on the beach while getting exercise at the same time.
To be fair, there should be a usage fee and the proceeds should strictly be used for maintenance and enhancement of the public places.
I think some of the classes are “donation” based as in… “hey, we’re just a group of people doing yoga/dance/whatever”… and afterwards, the students can choose to offer the teacher a donation. Some clear and fair policies should be created to address the issue.


Lexes O'Hara January 19, 2016 at 2:10 pm

I wish there was a way to better negotiate. The outdoors is FREE and BEAUTIFUL, which is why trainers and fitness instructors take advantage of the opportunity to get out there. It shouldn’t cost trainers to workout or take their classes to the beach or parks. People should be able to train where they want to train, whether in a class or individually. That’s my thought on it. Parks and beaches are free as it is, if people are complaining about it being overcrowded, well then there’s several other beaches and parks to visit. I do agree there should be sign-ups and regulations, but I think raising the prices will discourage people from training outdoors, which is a shame


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