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L.A. Now Live: Should Santa Monica crack down on beach fitness craze?

January 10, 2013 |  8:05 am

It's the stereotypical Southern California scene: beach yoga and toned bodies marching in unison to a muscular personal trainer. But in Santa Monica city officials are weighing whether one of its most popular beachfront parks should be be an oversized -- and free -- outdoor gym.

Times reporter Matt Stevens will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the options the city is weighing.

Residents of the upscale condos and apartments that line Ocean Avenue have been complaining mightily about the human traffic jams. Now Santa Monica, a city that prides itself on encouraging wellness and a healthful lifestyle, is seriously, though gingerly, talking about cracking down on the fitness craze at Palisades Park. City officials are drawing up guidelines that would regulate trainers who use public parks and beaches for their classes and possibly add higher fees.

"We're very committed to having people be active and healthy and having really wonderful public spaces that encourage people to do that," said Julie Rusk, Santa Monica's assistant director of community and cultural services. "We are really trying to strike the right middle ground."

Santa Monica isn't alone in dealing with fitness fanatics. Personal trainers used to be the domain strictly of fitness clubs, but they are increasingly taking clients to parks to take advantage of California's sunny weather. Boot camps — in which an instructor leads a fitness class with a large group of students — have also grown in popularity at local parks.

Faced with fitness crowds, Redondo Beach allows only city-sponsored classes in public parks and beaches. Beverly Hills prohibits groups larger than two from its parks, and the city of Los Angeles charges boot camp operators $60 per hour.

Even some personal trainers admit that the scene at Palisades Park has gotten out of control.