SCOTTISH fitness instructors face a crackdown by local councils who are set to charge trainers for workout sessions in parks.
East Lothian, East Renfrewshire and North Lanarkshire are asking commercial fitness groups to apply and pay for permits to hold classes
in local parks.
Other Scottish councils are understood to be considering similar policies.
The move has been welcomed by some professional trainers who believe it will prevent “cowboy” trainers from setting up boot camps.
However, some have questioned the scheme, as they fear the charges could be too high for small businesses who have been set up to help people get fit in a local and group environment.
Recently local councils have seen a rise in the number of classes and boot camps being held in their local parks.
Councils say that the permits will allow them to control the number of groups using the parks and ensure instructors have the necessary training.
Donald MacGregor, who runs Scottish Military Fitness sessions in Kelvingrove, Bellahouston and Queens parks in Glasgow, thinks that the scheme is a positive move and will “get rid of cowboys.”
He said: “We have always campaigned for a license because then you would be able to get rid of cowboys who are not operating properly.
“I’m willing to pay anything they want to charge me but they have to find out who is operating in the park and how they are going to police it. We need everybody to be batting from the same wicket.
“The stipulation they have is if an organisation is making a profit from using the parks. But what about dog walkers? What about nurseries and schools?”
Mr MacGregor recently met with Glasgow City Council to discuss the possibility of paying £50 per park, per month.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council confirmed that discussions were at a “very early stage.”
But, Andrew McAllister, who runs Park Circuits in Glasgow, said:”I’m not into anybody training in parks if they are going to take away value, running over benches and damaging wildlife. But it has got to be fair.
“It is a bit disappointing if councils are looking at it just to get extra cash and without fully thinking it through.”
East Renfrewshire and North Lanarkshire council say it will depend on the number of participants how much instructors are charged.
One group has been told they will need to pay £500 a year, to hold three classes a week in East Renfrewshire.
East Lothian charges £6.70 an hour, £25.60 for up to four hours and £50 for a full day.
A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “The fee covers the cost of facilities and booking allows us to ensure that their chosen area is available, that groups have appropriate skills for the activities being undertaken, and that they have proper insurance, including public liability, in place.”
Kenneth Wilson, head of land services at North Lanarkshire Council, said: “If they simply run around the park, there is no charge.
“If however, they book and area of the park, this is for their exclusive use for that time and there would be a charge. This allows the council to control the number of people using our parks for a business purpose.”
A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council, said: “Park rangers would bring to the parks supervisors attention any activities where groups are using the park without permission.”