Kiama's fitness group policy to be reviewed

THE use of public reserves by commercial fitness trainers in Kiama will be addressed as part of a new policy, with one trainer suggesting such a policy would have its ‘‘pros and cons’’. 

Gerringong fitness trainer Joel Roberts. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

Gerringong fitness trainer Joel Roberts. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

At the August meeting, Kiama councillors resolved to begin consultation with the fitness industry and stakeholders to form a new policy.

According to council’s report, over time there has been an increase in the number of outdoor fitness training operators,  these activities most commonly taking place on public land.

‘‘Commercial fitness training groups have increased in number over the last few years. 

‘‘Kiama offers very attractive outdoor locations for commercial fitness groups to use with vast areas of the coastline being held in public ownership for recreation purposes.’’

Issues expected to be addressed in the new policy include where fitness training groups can operate (sporting fields, public reserves, crown land); when fitness training should be conducted; how many groups and what size group is appropriate in designated locations; use of fixed exercise equipment and use of other public assets by groups and fees. 

Gerringong personal trainer/group trainer Joel Roberts regularly uses public reserves to conduct sessions.

He said such a policy would ‘‘have its pros and cons’’, and he would want to be consulted.

‘‘A flat rate, a flat fee wouldn’t work,’’ he said.

‘‘You would need variety; it could be one person, or a group exercising.

‘‘Working with a flat rate for all would be a bit difficult... Then personal trainers fees would go up, and people complain enough as it is about the rates.

‘‘But if people are using reserves as a group and using the same reserve a few times a day, a policy might need to happen.’’

Oxygen Health & Fitness, Kiama director Dave Lambert said he had been through a similar experience during his time working in Wollongong.  

Wollongong City Council’s policy on commercial trainers, introduced in 2009, has spawned debate regarding the use of certain locations and fees.

‘‘Wollongong was at times a difficult process,’’ he said.

‘‘Wollongong based their policy off what they’d seen other council areas do... There were some ridiculous clauses there.

‘‘For example, we couldn’t use witches hats to mark out where we were training. 

‘‘They did listen on some things, but were hard to budge on others.’’

Now based in Kiama, Mr Lambert said since he started doing so nearly five years ago, outdoor fitness training occurred more frequently within the area. 

‘‘Now it’s become very popular,’’ he said. 

‘‘Kiama is a great spot for it.

‘‘There probably needs to be a policy in place; hopefully it’s not too restrictive... With things like time and number of participants.’’ 

Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler told Fairfax Media some fitness groups in Kiama were now significant in size.

He said the issue was that they were using public reserves, and that some people felt they were impinging on their use of them. 

A draft policy is expected to be placed on public exhibition.

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