Exercise guru labels outdoor fitness groups 'embarrassing'
Outdoor personal training is a ''middle class'' indulgence that can embarrass onlookers and deter others from exercising, one of Australia's leading fitness experts says.
Garry Egger, who has advised the federal government on exercise and weight control, said councils should crack down on trainers who monopolise areas such as beaches.
''There are obviously people who do it because it does send a statement and make them look good,'' he said. ''We need better programs to appeal to the majority of the population who are inactive, rather than visible high-cost programs to a small minority who can afford it.''
Training day: Bottoms Up! fitness groups exercise on Bondi Beach. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Dr Egger's comments came as Waverley Council met on Tuesday night to discuss a crackdown on exercise groups that flout rules. Several councils have established policies limiting group sizes and imposing exclusion zones.
He said councils needed to stringently enforce their rules ''where trainers are interfering with other people's right to common recreational services''.
Egger wrote Australia's physical activity guidelines in 1999 and developed the Gutbusters weight-loss program. He now says personal training is an "elite approach" to fitness, describing it as "a very middle class, indulgent thing to do".
Outdoor fitness groups could be "embarrassing" for people to watch and could turn others off exercise, he said.
Waverley councillor Paula Masselos said exercise groups were training on children's play equipment, used benches for step routines, hung ropes from trees or allowed class sizes to blow out.
Libby Babet, who own Bottoms Up! Fitness, a women-only group with a permit to train on Bondi Beach, said most trainers complied with council regulations. She said group training was affordable - less than $10 a session for regular clients - and while personal training was more expensive, it helped people reach specific goals, such as getting in shape for a wedding.
Trainer Scott Gooding, who operates legal ''boot camp'' training at Bondi Park, said his clients did not come to show off but to lose weight and get fit.
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