Kiama reviews fitness group policy

File picture.

File picture.

The use of public reserves by commercial fitness trainers has been a source of controversy at neighbouring councils in recent years and now it is the turn of Kiama Council to tackle the issue.

Last week Kiama councillors resolved to begin consultation with the fitness industry and stakeholders to form a new policy.

Kiama council staff said the number of commercial fitness training groups using public reserves and sportsgrounds had increased in recent years as Kiama offered "very attractive outdoor locations" for commercial fitness groups to use "with vast areas of Kiama's coastline in public ownership for recreation purposes".

Wollongong City Council's policy on commercial trainers, introduced in 2009, has generated strong debate about the use of certain locations and the fees charged.

After a review of its 2011 policy, Shellharbour Council banned fitness groups from using the council's outdoor exercise gear to prevent them monopolising it.

Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said some of the fitness groups in Kiama were now "quite significant in size".

"The issue is they are using public reserves and some people feel they are impinging on their use of reserves.

"Anecdotally, we are hearing about tyres being dragged across reserves which creates maintenance issues," Cr Petschler said.

"The policy will look at identifying appropriate locations that don't intrude too much on the public domain."

Kiama general manager Michael Forsyth said the policy would need to consider the promotion of community health, however, public liability insurance was also a primary concern.

Mr Forsyth said a draft policy would be placed on public exhibition for comment.

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