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City Wants to Protect Its Turf From Boot Camps

The fitness camps that use public parks as their outdoor gyms are tearing up the grass, Santa Monica's Community and Cultural Services Department says.

They hustle to squat, to kick in rapid succession and to jog around small cones on the dewy grass on Ocean Avenue.

Every morning, sweaty men and women use the city's parks, particularly along the ocean-facing knolls between San Vicente Boulevard and California Avenue, as their outdoor gyms.

But when the classes led by professional fitness gurus use heavy-equipment, like dumbbells and kettlebells, they tear up the turf, said .

Stinzhfield said she wasn't sure of the extent of that damage, but it's been enough to raise concern.

In the New Year, city staffers will propose regulating the boot camps and group activities that use heavy equipment, ripping up the grass and other amenities, at all of the city's parks, she said.

Adam Brewer, the owner of Westside Adventure Boot Camp in Santa Monica, estimates that since he began his outdoor classes on Ocean Avenue five years ago, the number of boot camp-type groups have blossomed from a handful to about a dozen. He surmises that their popularity is fueled by the fact that the city has so far been friendly to them, allowing the groups to operate without interference.

"The outdoor activities and the usage of the parks in Santa Monica are really popular and probably more so than in most places," Brewer said.

It was unclear what the changes could entail. To regulate activity, whether for special events on public spaces or nightlife at local businesses, it's typical for the city to require that organizers obtain special permits. Currently, event permits for parks are only required of activities or events where 150 or more people participate.  

Stinzhfield said the city has tried unsuccessfully to get the fitness class leaders to participate in classes to teach them about using city facilities. Their participation would also help staffers keep track of the number of fitness groups using public parks.

Brewer said the only equipment his classes use are yoga mats and aren't part of the problem. Even so, "in my experience, the behaviors and activities of most of the groups wouldn’t lend themselves to tearing up the grass that much," he said.

The regulations, which are still being drafted, will first be presented to the city's Parks and Recreation Commission. The commission is an advisory body to the City Council, which has the ultimate say on any changes.

Carol Landsberg December 28, 2011 at 03:45 AM
There is another concern- the potential law suits. When people get injured on public property, they believe they can sue. There are 100s of people exercising in the city parks every day- an accident waiting to happen. They start before 6 am - waking up the people who live around the parks, and they will not respect homeowners' requests to be quiet.
Amy Spiegel December 28, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Isn't it great that hundreds of people are exercising? That would mean that we have a healthier population.
Steven December 28, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Carol Landsberg, People can sue anyone or any institution for just about anything. Whether they are successful or not is another matter. Making another ordnance for small groups of people using a public park does not seem wise. Regarding, (what seems to be your real concern), noise, there are already noise ordnances on the books in Santa Monica. All you have to do is call the Santa Monica police and they will deal with the issue. I agree with Amy that it seems a good sign that Santa Monica residents want to exercise more which can aid in bringing about a more healthy society. EnjOy! Steven
Tim barker March 16, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I've lived in the Santa Monica Canyon for 20 years now and everyday I see the stair circus growing larger. Why has this area become the next Disneyland of outdoor gyms? Too many posers... Too little space... The time to formulate a plan is now. Don't mention the legions of dogs that must be led to the beach for the daily crap. The quality of life is steadily going downhill to the ocean. T.

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