Frustration over new fitness fees

Gerringong fitness trainer Joel Roberts at South Werri Reserve. Picture: BRENDAN CRABBA GERRINGONG fitness trainer believes they are being ‘‘punished’’ for promoting fitness and healthy lifestyle by proposed new fees.

Community views are being sought to help develop a policy for the use of Kiama’s public reserves for commercial fitness activities and personal training.

In August, Kiama council considered a report regarding commercial/personal fitness trainers using public reserves.

At the March meeting, councillors agreed to seek the public’s feedback on the draft policy for the use of public reserves for commercial fitness activities and personal training.

Gerringong personal trainer Joel Roberts often uses South Werri Reserve four days a week for an afternoon class.

He expressed his frustration with the proposed policy.

‘‘They are looking at charging up to $2400 per annum to use a designated public reserve.

‘‘This is not including the $200 initial permit fee they want to charge.

‘‘As a local personal trainer, I for one, think this is ridiculous.’’

According to the proposal, ‘‘in order to balance the needs of the general public in their passive and recreational pursuits with opportunities to allow commercial fitness trainers/groups, this policy nominates an individual maximum class size (participants) of 30’’.

The proposed fee structure suggests annual usage fees for class sizes of one-two participants $250; three-10 $1200; 11-20 $1600; and 21-30 $2400.

Mr Roberts said his groups ranged between 20-30 people a session.

‘‘Two-and-a-half grand a year is a lot of money; I didn’t expect it to be that much,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s frustrating, because all my (personal trainer) mates in other (local government) areas are paying so much less… And we’re only a small community.

‘‘I don’t mind paying a fee; we’re making money off public reserves.

‘‘It’s the cost, putting a limit on how many people we can have, they’ve also got time-frames when we can and cannot train.

‘‘We’ve also got Fitness Australia registration, our own insurance, we’ve got to update our equipment every year, we’ve got to continue to learn and do courses every two years.’’

According to the council’s report, ‘‘public reserve areas have been used for some time by commercial fitness training groups and personal trainers for commercial gain and council needs to ensure that there is a mechanism (by way of a policy) to permit such activities and impose reasonable requirements for the use of public reserves for such purpose’’.

‘‘The main issues to arise from the consultation included the need for a diversity/number of possible sites for trainers to conduct activities and also to carefully consider the fee structure particularly for the smaller/one-on-one groups where unreasonable fee structures are suggested to be commercially unsustainable.

‘‘The objective of the proposed policy is to provide for the effective management of commercial fitness trainers/groups occupying designated public land in the Kiama municipality to ensure open space areas can continue to be enjoyed and accessed by the community for general use and without adverse impact to surrounding residents, public risk and public infrastructure.’’

Submissions will be accepted until April 29.

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