By NATALIA HAWK
Do you participate in an outdoor fitness group?
Beach pilates? Group kayaking? Bootcamp in the park? A running team? All of the above?
If your answer is ‘yes’ – prepare yourself. You may soon be saying goodbye to your beloved outdoor fitness group, because they’ve just been SLAMMED by one of Australia’s leading authorities on fitness and health.
Professor Garry Egger, who has previously advised the federal government on exercise and weight control, has said that outdoor fitness groups are a “middle-class”, “indulgent” and “high-cost” activity that might be “embarrassing to onlookers”.
He reckons that councils need to crack down on trainers who are taking advantage of parks, beaches and other “common recreational services” by holding group fitness sessions in these locations.
According to Fairfax, Egger 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.”
I know that outdoor fitness groups can be hugely polarising.
Some people swear by them. Other people agree with Garry.
But after all the slurs that have been thrown their way, I kind of feel like it’s my duty to defend them.
So let’s unpack Garry’s points, one by one:
1. Outdoor fitness groups are middle-class
I’ve always hated people referring to the class system when trying to put things down. Once, I went on a date with a nice boy. At some point in the evening, he called me ‘bourgeois’. As in… used it as an insult.
Needless to say, there was no second date.
Yes, outdoor fitness classes are probably largely populated by middle-class citizens. So are many other things. There are plenty of reasons behind this, and it does not necessarily make them a bad thing.
2. Outdoor fitness groups are indulgent
I’m not sure what Garry even means by this point. I don’t think there’s anything particularly indulgent about sweating out half your body weight running up and down sand dunes while a personal trainer yells at you. There’s especially nothing indulgent about the fact that you are paying them to yell at you. Why would you indulge in that when there’s Ben & Jerry’s to enjoy?