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Santa Monica Officials Consider Fining Fitness Instructors For Using Parks

SANTA MONICA ( — In a city where fitness is held at a premium, Santa Monica officials are considering a big fine on aerobics instructors who use public parks to teach.

City officials have discussed charging trainers a $100 annual fee and taking 15 percent of their gross revenue. They may also ban certain parks from being used for workout lessons.

Trainer Ruben Lawrence, of Hype Performance, said the fees would be a major blow to his livelihood. The Santa Monica native said he holds group training at several city parks.

"It would have us looking into moving to a different location. We would like to stay in Santa Monica, because that's the city where we're from and the community we would like to support," Lawrence said.

City leaders said they've spent more than a year discussing the issue of using public space for commercial gain.

They've also received complaints from resident about the noise and that all the training equipment is damaging the grounds.

The issue is most apparent at Palisades Park, a spot popular with fitness buffs for the ocean views.

"The idea of shutting down group training in this park is appalling," said Angela Parker, a trainer who runs Body Inspired Fitness.

Parker said she supports city regulation, even if it takes 10 percent of her revenue, but feels 15 percent and banning certain parks is a one-two punch to her business.

"We're small, independently-owned businesses and, unfortunately, we would have to pass that percentage down to our clients," Parker said.

That idea doesn't sit well with Santa Monica resident Corinne Bennett. She said being outside and not locked to a gym membership motivates her to keep up with her workouts.

The City Council is expected to hear suggestions from a committee next month and then discuss the issue in March.

"We understand the city has to make changes to get involved, we would just like it to be fair to us, our clients and the people of Santa Monica," Parker said.

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