Parks and open spaces play an integral role in encouraging healthy lifestyles, but in Denver the growing number of outdoor fitness classes has prompted city officials to require that such groups obtain commercial use permits if they want to continue to hold sessions in public parks.
Jack Healy writes in the New York Times:
A skirmish over exercise in the public square seems fitting in a place where people spend more on road bikes than on their cars, and Lycra attire is the unofficial uniform of the weekend.
Officials and neighbors say they are not trying to discourage fitness, but they say the sweaty throngs can be a nuisance, monopolizing sidewalks and fields. They say personal trainers and fitness centers are taking unfair advantage of taxpayer-financed public spaces, rather than paying for gym space.
Trainers and the fitness mavens who assemble in Denver’s parks roll their eyes at those arguments. It’s summertime, they say. And in a country battling obesity and high rates of heart disease and diabetes, they say, governments should be doing everything possible to get people up and moving.