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D.C. To Crack Down On Outdoor Fitness Classes In Public Parks

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Unlike the Lululemon Athletica program on the National Mall, most paid fitness activities and classes that take place in city parks outdoors in D.C. are against the law.
David Fulmer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveynin/4491797300/
Unlike the Lululemon Athletica program on the National Mall, most paid fitness activities and classes that take place in city parks outdoors in D.C. are against the law.

Outdoor fitness classes are growing in popularity in the District, especially at D.C.'s public parks. And while lawmakers applaud the goal to get healthier, they are looking at ways to regulate and make money off of private fitness classes.

Outdoor yoga, sports lessons and and so-called outdoor boot-camps are becoming routine sights at parks around city, but a lot of these classes are actually against the law, as D.C. prohibits private companies from conducting commercial activity on park property. District lawmakers admit, though, they're helping residents live healthier lives.

"There's two ways to look at this: one way is you're providing a service. It's great you are offering something otherwise not being offered for people to get fit and healthy," says D.C. Council member Tommy Wells. "The other way to look at it is you are making money, and shouldn't you share some of that revenue with the government?"

Wells, who chairs D.C.'s parks and recreation committee, last month held a hearing on a proposal to loosen the regulations for trainers who hold classes on park property, and to figure out a way for the city to get a cut of the revenue. Under the proposal, trainers would likely have to apply for a permit and either pay a flat fee or a percentage of their revenue.

"As we regulate the use of our fields for these commercial vendors, it allows us to force them to go to other parts of the city they may not traditionally go to," says Jesus Aguiller, who heads D.C.'s Department Parks and Recreation. "So if we want a citywide program on X activity, we could then address the equity issue by requiring there is certain level of service that's provided in certain areas of the city."

The revenue raised by D.C., meanwhile, could help with the maintenance of the parks.

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