San Diego, CA—August 31, 2020

WHAT: American Council on Exercise, on behalf of its 90,000+ certified exercise professionals and health coaches, urges government officials to advance public policies that open parks and other publicly owned and managed spaces to allow for structured physical activity experiences facilitated by qualified professionals. The national nonprofit specifically calls for policies to support local fitness businesses and exercise professionals.

American Council on Exercise urges government officials to consider the following course of action that could be piloted during the pandemic and extended after:

  • Require professionals teaching in parks to have a credible certification from an organization accredited by the NCCA and proof of adequate liability insurance
  • Establish a licensing requirement with a reasonable permit fee to allow use of the parks
  • Set a limit on the number of permits issued to ensure access to all users
  • Require that appropriate waivers be signed by participants and program providers
  • Work with the fitness community to establish a shared-use code of conduct, similar to trail use etiquette, that ensures that the fitness community is a good neighbor and has access to community open space resources for the long haul
  • If a revenue share/royalty is needed, set it at a level that is not punitive to the exercise professional and their participants

WHY: The closure of gyms and fitness centers throughout the nation because of public health orders negatively impact the health of the economy but also put communities at risk for preventable diseases. Communities with space for residents to engage in active, healthy lifestyles are considered a cornerstone of public health policy and a key to curbing the obesity epidemic, something that is even more important with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

EXAMPLES: The opening of publicly managed parks and spaces is a great option for residents as public health professionals determine if and when it is safe to allow individuals to exercise at indoor facilities.

  • July 21: Saratoga Springs City Council approved the opening of Congress Park, High Rock Park, Geyser Road Veterans Memorial Park and Waterfront Park for local gyms, yoga studios and fitness trainers to host fitness sessions.
  • August 12: San Jose City Council approved the opening of city parks, downtown plazas, surface parking lots, street business areas and all city-owned facilities to fitness studios, hair salons and restaurants.
  • August 18: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed an executive order allowing gyms and places of worship to hold services and fitness classes at county parks.
  • August 21: San Francisco Recreation and Park Department proposed a program allowing local gyms to host outdoor fitness classes in city-designated outdoor spaces. In addition, the program would also reduce licensing costs by more than 90% for qualified businesses.

“It is imperative that government officials act quickly to address the issue and provide solutions to promote healthy lifestyles and support the thousands of struggling fitness sector professionals who have been forced to close brick-and-mortar locations," said Graham Melstrand, ACE’s Executive Vice President, Engagement. “Through sharing these publicly owned and managed spaces, local governments can support small businesses in their community and ensure that residents have the option to engage in a safe physical activity experience that may ultimately lead to increased physical, emotional and mental health.”


About American Council on Exercise

The American Council on Exercise is a nonprofit organization with global reach that works to improve physical-activity levels by certifying exercise professionals and health coaches, publishing original research, convening experts on physical activity health, working directly with community groups, and advocating for policies to get people from all walks of life moving. The 90,000 exercise professionals and health coaches certified by ACE are among the most respected in the world of fitness, helping people embrace physical activity and adopt healthier lifestyles. For more information, call 800-825-3636 or visit AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.