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Posted on: August 21, 2020

SF Rec and Park to Offer Low-Cost Outdoor Space for Fitness Providers

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA  Gyms, exercise studios and other fitness providers hit hard by health-mandated closures could inexpensively hold classes outdoors in city parks under a proposed program that would slash licensing costs by more than 90 percent, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today.

The program takes inspiration from the City’s Shared Spaces program, in which restaurants and other businesses can alleviate some of the economic impact of health closures by operating outdoors in public spaces, as permitted by the current health order. Rec and Park’s proposal was sent to fitness providers this week in order to gather feedback. If approved, the program would launch Sept 13.

“Like parks themselves, fitness classes promote physical health and mental wellbeing—something we could all use right now. This program would allow fitness providers with closed storefronts an inexpensive way to hold classes again while allocating space in a fair and transparent way,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg.

The program would have two options, depending on the size of classes held.

Small fitness operators such as personal trainers who don’t require a designated space and train up to three clients at a time would pay only for an annual permit, the price of which would be reduced from $250 to $25 for as long as gyms remain closed. Fitness instructors who used outdoor space prior to the health emergency and are not affected by gym closures would not be eligible for discounted rates.

For those leading group classes of four to 11 people, or any instructor requiring a designated space in the park, the proposal would guarantee a spot to hold classes for 10 weeks at a consistent day and time and the cost would drop from $15 an hour to $1.25 an hour. Two-hour blocks would be allocated through a fair and transparent lottery. Spaces would be located throughout the park system and include basketball courts, lawns and plazas.

The program would require all commercial operators to be permitted and registered so Rec and Park can manage the overall schedule to avoid crowding and to ensure the classes do not interfere with public enjoyment of the park as well as existing programs such as emergency child and youth care.

The proposal finetunes a pilot program launched in June by further lowering costs and providing options for small group fitness providers.

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