More than 40 fitness trainers and aficionados appealed to the Santa Monica City Council to not enforce proposed restrictions on their outdoor classes particularly at Palisades Park.
At issue is a proposed change to the Municipal Code and the enforcement of new rules which would include a use charge of 15 percent of revenue, a permit fee of $100, proof of insurance as well as other licenses, limiting the use of exercise equipment over 25 pounds and limiting class sizes for both private and group classes.
The majority of local residents spoke against the proposals with many voicing their opposition to the weight restrictions and stressing their respect for Palisades Park, including fitness trainer Jeff Jordan.
"We're professionals, and the last thing we want to do is ruin the area where we live and work," Jordan said.
Some fitness students and other trainers said that reducing the sizes of group classes would be detrimental to many who are unable to afford private or semi-private fitness instruction.
Others spoke of the merits of the exercise classes not only for their physical well-being but also for the sense of community they have gained with one person imploring, "Please don't kick us out of the park."
There were also complaints that the new fees would be difficult for many of the trainers to pay since they are small business owners.
Phil Brock, Chair of the Recreation and Parks Commission for the City of Santa Monica, said the commission spent 18 months studying the issue and is concerned about the impact of group training on Palisades Park in particular.
"Our commission wants to emphasize we're not opposed to people training in our parks, but it's a narrow strip of land," Brock said. "It's a special park in our city."
A minority of local residents spoke in favor of the new restrictions with some citing concerns about early morning noise in the neighborhood which was echoed by some on the City Council.
"I think nothing happening before sunrise or after sunset," City Councilman Robert Holbrook said. "Waking people up, that's not appropriate."
Mayor Pro Tempore Gleam Davis suggested a charge of 10 percent of revenue instead of 15 percent.
The council voted unanimously to ask the staff to return with an ordinance with options that would look at whether to allow fitness activity in Palisades Park, time and noise restrictions as well as including a charge of 10 percent of revenue, looking at "size parameters" for group activities, heavier equipment allowed in other area parks, no fitness allowed in Goose Egg Park or Ashland Park, information about a code of conduct for trainers.
Karen Ginsberg, Community and Cultural Services Director, said the staff would bring the new ordinance back to City Council this summer.