health

Outdoor fitness groups are "indulgent, high cost, middle class" activities.

Outdoor fitness groups. Good or bad?

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.”

Well.

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:

This is Garry. Garry doesn’t believe in outdoor fitness groups.

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?

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Maybe Garry means that it’s a bit twatty to exercise in places where other people can see you? Well, ladies and gents – it’s time to put your boxing gloves and running shoes away until they can be safely enjoyed in the privacy of your own home or gym. How dare you do exercise in a PARK. That’s not what they’re there for! Oh wait…

3. Outdoor fitness groups are high-cost

Sure, maybe they used to be high-cost. But now that every trainer and his whistle are running an outdoor fitness group, prices have dropped to become pretty competitive. I get almost-daily emails from those group-buying sites offering me deals like “18 bootcamp sessions for $29!”, so I’m pretty sure you can take part for less cash than it costs to buy your morning coffee.

4.Outdoor fitness groups are embarrassing to onlookers, therefore deterring other people from exercising

Seriously – if seeing other people exercise was embarrassing, nobody would ever join a gym again. I’m not embarrassed if I see a bunch of people doing star-jumps on the beach at 8am. I AM embarrassed if I happen to be walking past them while stuffing my face with a chocolate croissant. My brain sees the lovely fit people and goes, “Oh shit. Haven’t exercised for at least… can’t even remember how many…. days… Better go home and do that later.” Not, “Look how silly they all are with their red faces and boxing gloves! Looking after their health – HA! Dickheads.”

Embarrassing? I think not.

In conclusion…

Garry, exercise is good for people.

I know this. You know this.

Nobody’s life is ever going to be ruined by a group of people exercising in the great outdoors. Perhaps slightly inconvenienced – if ANYTHING. So why are you getting all hot and bothered about it?

Maybe let’s work on getting “better programs” for those who don’t like/can’t access outdoor fitness groups – but surely we don’t need to get rid of them altogether.

We can just stick to encouraging people to exercise in whatever way they feel is appropriate. Indoor. Outdoor. Underwater. Whatever.

Over to you – what do you think of outdoor fitness groups? Like them? Hate them?

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