Saturday, 13 September 2008

Enjoying the sun

I couldn't resist this last shot from my lunchtime walk in the Domain, featured over the last two days. That's St Mary's Cathedral in the background, Sydney's Roman Catholic cathedral.

After all the activity from the past two days, I was interested to read this letter in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

Do people train in public parks where you are? Is there debate about it?

In an obesity crisis, parks are exercising their greed
September 13, 2008

I would like to call attention to the policy of local councils and parkland governing bodies charging personal trainers a licensing fee for the use of public parks. On the surface this may not seem a serious problem, but outdoor personal trainers are being driven out of business.

The Botanic Gardens Trust has cracked down on the annual $1144 licence for using the Domain, with threats of $355 fines for being unlicensed.

The official reason for this permit is to regulate the uninsured and unregistered trainers from using the Domain. In fact it's a transparent money grab. The authorities believe we are making a living out of the park, so they are putting their hand out for their cut.

I know of no trainer who can make a living from one park. I train clients at eight or nine different parks a week, paying about $10,000 a year in separate fees.

I understand the need to stop large fitness corporations dominating parks, as well as the problem of early morning noise from trainers in residential areas. But for a self-employed individual who trains a group of three people twice a week in the Domain, $1144 a year is a little steep.

We have our own insurance for our clients, which takes the burden off the councils; we are professionals who train our clients safely, compared with joggers and groups of mates who play football in the park at lunchtime for nothing.

With a serious obesity rate in Australia, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics says costs $21 billion annually in associated illnesses, councils should be encouraging people to train with professional personal trainers to improve their health and fitness, not forcing us to abandon clients due to the economic burden of training them in outdoor areas.

Shannon Bell Balmain


  1. Goodness! I'm flabbergasted that the parks charge anything at all for this sort of use. Here if the trainer has a class through the parks and recreation department there might be a fee, but ANYONE can use park space for exercise. We have freedom of assembly, and unless its a very large group who might monopolize the park space, no permit or license would be required. If someone wanted to use the sports fields regularly they would have to book the space in advance with the parks department and there might be a use fee involved, but not for trainers who show up with a few clients and exercise for an hour. Lovely shot, Sally,
    Seattle Daily Photo

  2. Sally
    Haven't you special"Parcours sportifs"? We have many of those,around the town and very near the town.Much interesting and
    no trouble

  3. I guess the reasons they introduced charges go like this:

    + people are earning an income from use of what is free public space
    + council has to pay for maintenance of those spaces
    + it was becoming so prevalent that some parks were just being taken over to the annoyance of passive recreational users (and local residents in some places who had early morning "boot-camps" thudding around under the windows before dawn)
    + much of the activities were run by large corporate fitness entities who were thereby receiving subsidy at the expense of ratepayers.

  4. Love the shot. This has been a lovely short series. Just catching up after the second Ozzie invasion this year!

  5. I enjoyed this series of shots. Beautiful.

  6. Yes, the series introduces us to another aspect of Sydney. Thanks! Our city's system is the same as Kim's in Seattle. Must be cultural. I don't see people working out in parks; instead they go to gyms or community center buildings to work out.