Licensed to train
Muddy Plimsolls welcomes the introduction of Royal Parks’ fitness licenses.
My client was in the middle of a set of burpees, one Saturday morning in Avenue Gardens, when I heard a polite cough at my shoulder. A police constable stood beside me. Looking stern, he asked whether I had a fitness license to practice personal training in Regent’s Park.
License? I thought. What license? This was news to me. I was aware that fitness licenses had been introduced elsewhere, across the green spaces of London. But as far as I knew, The Royal Parks still allowed one-to-one personal training to be conducted freely. Evidently, I was out of the loop.
‘You should be wearing a yellow armband,’ the constable continued, ‘if you’re officially licensed to operate as a trainer.’
“You should be wearing a yellow armband,” the constable continued, “if you’re officially licensed to operate as a fitness trainer.”
I explained that I wasn’t aware of the apparent change to the park’s guidelines and by-laws, to which Muddy Plimsolls consistently adheres, but that I’d check-in with the park’s management team later that day. I held my breath. I had visions of being escorted by the ear, admonished and red-faced in front of my client, out of Regent’s Park by the nearest exit.
“Even if you had a fitness license, no personal training is allowed in Regent’s Park’s formal gardens,” the constable added, suggesting we go elsewhere.
Obediently, I relocated away from the flower-beds and out onto the wide open fields of Regent’s Park, to complete my client’s interrupted session. I kept my focus on her training, although reeling from my brush with the law and its repercussions for our outdoor personal training business. Avenue Gardens, a staple training space for our clients, had become a no-go zone. Royal Parks’ management had introduced a fitness license, required for our business to practice. And we at Muddy Plimsolls hadn’t gotten the memo.
When Muddy Plimsolls was invited to purchase an official fitness operator’s license for Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, we did a happy dance in the office.
By the close of the following week, hastily making phonecalls and collating paperwork, we’d jumped through all the hoops required by the licensing process. We’d shown evidence of our extensive fitness qualifications and public liability insurance. We’d provided a detailed risk assessment for our outdoor training style. We’d produced a written policy of our first aid and health and safety procedures. We’d read and agreed to the Royal Parks ‘code of conduct’ for outdoor fitness training. And after a nerve-racking wait, we received word that our application had been accepted. Muddy Plimsolls was invited to purchase an official fitness operator’s license for Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. We did a happy dance in the office.
We’ve been wondering for several years when licensing would hit Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. It had to happen.
The popularity of outdoor fitness has been steadily increasing, since we established our business in 2008, and has sky rocketed over the last year. And more recently, I’ve noticed an influx of nondescript personal trainers frequenting the park, training clients outdoors on an ad-hoc basis, seemingly unaware (or perhaps flagrantly disregarding) the Royal Parks’ suggested ‘code of conduct’. Laying out cones to zone off public areas for private client sessions. Performing step-ups on park benches. Attaching suspension training systems to tree branches. Swinging kettle-bells across pedestrian pathways.
The Royal Parks fitness license is comparable, I think, to the difference between licensed Black Cabs and unlicensed mini-cabs.
Muddy Plimsolls welcomes the introduction of Royal Parks’ fitness licenses. For Londoners, it’s comparable, I think, to the difference between licensed Black Cabs and unlicensed mini-cabs. The Royal Parks fitness license is an assurance – an identifier of personal training firms that abide by a set safety standards and run a professional service. Potential new clients interested in outdoor personal training, may feel confident in buying from licensed fitness operators. Muddy Plimsolls considers our fitness license an added dimension to our five-star personal training service, that benefits both our clients and our business.
Having collected my Royal Parks bright yellow armband, visible from a mile off, I’ve been wearing it ever since. It helps me get noticed by potential new clients – and avoids me getting my collar felt by the constabulary.