Fitness group fighting to use parks for classes

by Gazette Reporter
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A Dublin North fitness group has begun a petition to Fingal County Council to challenge a law preventing classes being held outdoors during summer months.
The group has been working on the petition in recent months in an effort to campaign against council by-laws regarding the use of the public parks across Fingal.
Fingal Kettlebells is a local fitness group that holds weekly kettlebell and running classes in Swords, Rush, Malahide and Donabate.
On Saturday mornings, the group holds boot-camp classes which are free for the fitness group’s clients.
In recent months however, they have been informed by Fingal County Council that they are not permitted to offer the service to clients in a public park.
“Up until two years ago there was no problem, I’d been using [the public parks] for a couple of years,” explained owner of Fingal Kettlebells Dinny Collins.
“Last summer council workers came up to me and said I would need to apply for a licence. I had no problem with that but then the council said there was no such thing as a licence, that you’re just not allowed use any council land for any exercise classes.”
Dinny has been working on the petition over the last number of months and has written to the council to express his “deep exasperation” relating to the laws in place.
“The bootcamp class has been dropped and people are asking for it. I see exercise classes all the time on council land but in the eyes of the council, they’re illegal. So everyone who is doing it is essentially breaking the law. Which is ridiculous,” he said.
Of the 5,000 acres of open space in Fingal, Dinny said he was informed by a council employee that only two designated sites exist where fitness classes are permitted, one in Malahide Castle and one in Ardgillan Castle.
“I went up to have a look at the site at Malahide Castle and it was useless. It was right in the middle of the castle, it was hidden, totally out of the public eye, it was inaccessible. It was a tiny little green patch, it was a useless spot basically,” he said.
“It doesn’t just affect people in my class, it affects anyone who wants to do an exercise class outside.
“Anyone who is a tax payer has to pay for the health of the nation so the more health and fitness is promoted, the more money there is to spend on better things rather than unhealthy people,” Dinny added.
One member of the local fitness group has described the prohibition of outdoor classes as “outrageous”.
Speaking to The Gazette, she said: “I’m sure you’ll agree that fitness classes should be in the public eye promoting health and fitness for the wider community and class participants should be allowed to enjoy the public green spaces for their workouts.”
A spokesperson for Fingal County Council said the council maintains many public spaces and amenities for the public throughout the Fingal area.
She said these areas are governed by their Regional Parks and Open Spaces Bye-Laws (1999).
“Any private enterprise who wishes to conduct a commercial activity in any of our public spaces is required to engage with us and to meet a set list of criteria.
“Bye-laws are a reserved function of our elected representatives, and are not subject to review at this time,” she added.

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