Outdoor fitness classes are a continually growing trend. Every week, outdoor fitness class provider British Military Fitness runs over 500 boot camp classes in 140 venues nationwide, for 13,000 of its members.
The demand for these classes is hardly surprising, given the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor fitness training.
It provides greater Vitamin D exposure, burns more calories than indoor exercise and improves your self-esteem – which is particularly significant given that nearly a fifth of the UK population is affected by depression or anxiety.
However, for all their distinct advantages, outdoor fitness classes in public spaces can be difficult to organise, especially due to the rules set by landowners.
To explain how you can overcome this problem, and why outdoor fitness classes are so popular, we’ve put together an ultimate guide featuring unique insights from fitness industry professionals.
The rise of outdoor fitness classes
Outdoor fitness classes are gaining popularity all the time, which has prompted some councils to charge for using public spaces – but aside from its obvious benefits, what has led to this surge in outdoor fitness?
Tom Wheelhouse, a personal trainer and nutritional advisor for Mightify in Kingston-upon-Thames and Richmond, is a passionate advocate of outdoor fitness.
He said: “I think social media has definitely had an impact on training outdoors. With social networks like Instagram, there is increased focus on being ‘out and about’ and this can be infectious.
“Gyms in London can also be pricey and extremely busy, but there’s a certain sense of tranquillity when training outdoors too. For example, training on Wandsworth Park by the Thames as the sun is rising takes some beating. I’d choose that over a crowded, noisy gym any day of the week.”
Why use public spaces for outdoor fitness classes?
All year round, come rain or shine, fitness instructors are using public outdoor spaces to train their clients – mainly because they provide greater variety and more tangible health benefits than being in a gym.
Wheelhouse said: “We all spend a lot of time indoors and sitting down, so I really believe in the benefits of being outdoors in fresh air and sunlight.
“It also provides much-needed vitamin-D. This is important given the huge number of people in the UK that are vitamin-D deficient.”
Of course, the appeal of outdoor fitness classes is down to more than just the physical and mental results they provide.
Mathew Lewis-Carter, a personal trainer for mobile personal training company Kudos Fitness in South West London, said: “There are two main reasons for using outdoor space rather than a gym facility.
“Firstly, rental costs for PTs in central London can be anything upwards of £1,000 a month just to use the gym. You have to put in a certain amount of hours before you break even.
“Secondly, with HIIT (high intensity interval training) growing in popularity, exercise can be done away from the gym.”
However, while most councils in the UK don’t charge fitness instructors, to use their parks and free spaces, there are some that do.
What you need to know when organising outdoor fitness classes
Every council, parish and landowner has different rules when it comes to organising a class. What you think is a public space may actually be private land.
Before you start holding sessions or classes in public spaces, find out who owns the space and whether you need a licence.
Wheelhouse says: “You might think that no one will check you’ve got the right permit, but trust me, they will!”
What’s more, outdoor fitness instructors who charge for their service and use parks and greenspaces must agree to a code of conduct and register their details with their local council.
To quote Edinburgh City Council, agreeing to this code of conduct means that outdoor fitness trainers can ‘reduce their impact on the parks and other parks users, set a good example to other trainers and deliver a safe, quality service for their customers’.
Once you have registered as an outdoor fitness instructor with your local council, they will send you the code of conduct and a permission card. This card should be carried whenever you use a council-owned space to train clients.
Edinburgh City Council also advises outdoor fitness instructors that they:
- Consider other park users by keeping to the quiet corners of parks and leaving room, especially on paths
- Keep noise levels to a minimum, particularly early in the morning
- Avoid using children’s play equipment
Why you need insurance when running outdoor fitness classes
If you train outside in a public space, you need specialist fitness instructor insurance.
Without the right cover, you could be severely out of pocket if something goes wrong and may have to postpone your fitness classes for a long period of time.
The main reason you need insurance is that, if someone sustains an injury during one of your classes and holds you responsible, or if you accidentally damage council property while training, you may be on the receiving end of a costly compensation claim.
This is why Insure4Sport provides Public Liability insurance, which protects your legal liability if a claim is made against you for injury to another person or property damage.
With Insure4Sport, you can get up to £10 million of Public Liability insurance, which includes up to £1 million of Professional Indemnity cover, protecting you from any claims arising from advice you’ve given.
You can also get Equipment cover to ensure that you will be compensated for repairs or replacements if your equipment is lost, damaged or stolen.
Get an instant online quote with us today and leave nothing to chance.