Personal training in parks has shown to be beneficial for both clients and trainers alike, offering a unique experience for all those looking to expand outside the confines of the gym.
In order to learn everything you need to know about being a personal trainer in a park, this article will cover:
- Why You Should Be Using Parks For Your Personal Training Sessions
- Two Things To Consider Before You Start Personal Training in Parks
- Tips For Delivering The Perfect Park Training Session
As well as expanding where you train clients, one way to progress your PT career is to take a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course to attract more clients with specific nutriton goals.
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Why You Should Be Using Parks For Your Personal Training Sessions
Many fitness professionals often confine themselves to solely working in gyms and fitness centers, but there are also a plethora of untapped benefits to using parks for personal training sessions.
This section is dedicated to the reasons why you should be using the park for personal training sessions:
#1 - Using Parks for Personal Training is Significantly Cheaper Than Renting Gym Spaces
When working as a freelance personal trainer you may have to pay rent in order to access a gym space and its equipment.
Rent prices can vary depending on where you are located in the country, with businesses such as WorkOut Liverpool requiring monthly payments of £300-£360 - resulting in an annual total of £3,600 - £4,320.
Gyms located in central London will typically charge significantly higher prices, with establishments such as The Kensington Studio requiring monthly rental payments of £1250, making the annual fee £15,000.
Paying these rental fees could significantly eat into your overall salary, requiring you to put in more working hours just to break even.
So, can personal trainers use parks as a cheaper alternative?
A park permit for personal trainers will grant the holder the legal right to carry out their business within a publicly accessible setting. But in order to obtain this legal document, you will first need to pay a flat annual fee related to the frequency of your visits and the number of clients in attendance.
Prices for a personal trainer park licence also vary depending on your location and will be determined by your local council, but these will be far less costly than the rentals listed above.
For example, annual fees to train clients in Surrey green spaces can be seen below:
Whereas those looking to offer personal training in parks in London can expect to pay the following annual fees:
From both these examples we can conclude that regardless of where you’re located in the country, the annual cost of using parks for personal training will be a fraction of a gym’s monthly rental cost.
Let’s use The Kensington Studio as an example - for less than one months worth of rent (£1,250) you could buy both licences’ above, allowing you to run over 14 sessions a month in London parks for a full year.
By paying less money on a personal trainer park licence and saving what you would have spent on rent to a gym, you’ll be able to increase your profit margins and generate excess revenue that can then be spent on other personal or professional costs, like expanding your business!
#2 - Personal Training in Parks Will Attract Different Clients
Whilst gyms can be a great place for some clients to train and improve their overall fitness, for others they can be viewed as an intimidating environment that triggers feelings of discomfort.
These feelings may be so intense that they prevent clients from wanting to engage with training all together, making them otherwise inaccessible to PTs who specifically work within these sectors.
When it comes to offering personal training in public parks these individuals should feel comfortable enough to attend due to the fact that the environment associated with these negative emotions has been removed.
An example of this type of client can be seen in the testimonial below, which was written about an Australian fitness company that specialises in offering personal training in public parks (MAX NRG):
This personal training testimonial highlights how Zuwairi felt uncomfortable in a gym environment, and how using parks for personal training helped him to overcome this shyness in order to achieve his fitness goals.
Clients such as Zuwairi would go otherwise untapped by trainers who confine their practice to gym-based locations.
Therefore, if you’re looking to access this untapped market we’d advise taking a similar approach to MAX NRG, by displaying testimonials throughout your site.
This will act as a form of social proof for clients who share similar fears, reassuring them that your approach to training outdoors can be beneficial in putting these fears to rest.
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#3 - Using a Park for Personal Training Can Improve Client’s Overall Moods and Lead To Referrals
Outdoor training can help to improve the mood of a client by reducing the negative effects of feelings such as stress and anxiety.
Academic research into this area found sunshine helps to increase the body’s natural production of serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel happier, whilst also helping to promote feelings of calmness and concentration.
When clients are more focused they are more likely to achieve their fitness-related goals. In-turn, this will prompt a further feeling of fulfillment by knowing that they have successfully accomplished what they set out to do.
On top of this, the study also found that exercising, in general, helped the production of endorphins, another hormone which helps to boost mood and reduce bodily pain.
When using a park for personal training you can expect your clients to gain a boost of multiple feel-good hormones that improve their overall mood.
But how exactly can personal trainers use parks to gain referrals?
When your clients are in a positive mood they are more likely to view your service in a favourable light, associating these feelings with your training.
In a recent study, business analysis experts at BirdEye noted that 83% of satisfied clients are willing to refer others to a service. This can benefit your business in a number of ways, as noted in OriGym’s Guide to Personal Trainer Referrals which found that:
- Earnings could increase 10-20% following a referral programme
- Companies with referral programs experience 86% worth of growth
Therefore, we can conclude this point by stating that the improved moods of clients could eventually lead to growth within business, resulting in a greater amount of income.
#4 - Personal Training in a Park Has Multiple Health Benefits
When discussing why you should be using parks for personal training sessions it’s worth noting that outdoor exercise can offer multiple health benefits.
Most notably when you’re exercising outside you will be exposed to more sunlight, leading to an increase in your Vitamin D intake. The primary function of this vitamin is to support the growth and development of bones and teeth.
However, it can also play an important role in supporting our bodies' immune system, by regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. When your Vitamin D levels are of an adequate level, it can help fight diseases such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - A 2018 study found that individuals who were low in Vitamin D were more likely to develop MS.
- Heart Disease - Low Vitamin D levels have routinely been linked to an increased risk of heart diseases such as hypertension, heart failure, and strokes.
- Immune Disorders - Individuals who do not have adequate Vitamin D levels will be at increased risk of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and type-1 diabetes.
As you can see, offering personal training in public parks can not only benefit your clients, but it can also have a positive impact on your own health too.
By exercising outdoors you will both be exposed to the same levels of sunlight and vitamin D, meaning that you can experience the same health benefits listed above.
Two Crucial Things To Consider Before You Start Personal Training In Parks
When deciding to offer personal training in public parks there are two vital things to consider before launching your class:
- Getting The Right Personal Training Park Permit/Outdoor Business Permit
- Securing Insurance for Personal Training in the Park
If either of these steps are skipped in a rush to launch your business you could face legal repercussions. Therefore, we’ll cover each topic in-depth to ensure you’re fully equipped to begin your training sessions in public parks.
#1 - Getting The Right Personal Training Park Permit
As discussed earlier in the article, when using parks for personal training you will be required to file for an outdoor business permit.
These permits are typically a way for the local council to certify that you’re conducting business safely. Before giving the personal trainer a park licence the council will seek to determine if the trainer is:
- Insured for public liability
- Regularly completing risk assessments for each session
- Adhering to any existing government regulations
However, be aware that whilst these regulations are typically followed there isn’t one blanket permit across the UK.
Instead, every council, parish, and landowner will have a specific set of rules in place for the park in question.
For example, the Royal Parks in London also consider how the trainer is treating the land itself, stating:
We licence operators to ensure that the parks are protected; [that] access to and use of public open space is preserved for all visitors; [that] park visitors can benefit from, enjoy and engage in fitness training in a variety of outdoor environments
An example of what one of these application process will look like can be found below, provided from Surrey Health Council:
Applications will typically require you to divulge:
- Proof you have completed the appropriate training - E.g. a Level 3 Personal Training certificate
- The type of training you offer - e.g. one to one, group sessions, bootcamps
- How many clients will be in attendance
- What dates you will be training
- Location - If more than one park falls under the same council a specific area may be more expensive than the other
- Evidence guaranteeing that a risk assessment has been carried out
- Photographic ID
All of the answers you provide will help to determine the overall price of your specific park permit. Therefore, you must ensure that this information is as accurate as possible, as it will guarantee you’re paying the correct fee.
How Can I Apply For The Correct Personal Trainer Park Licence?
To reiterate, the requirements to obtain a park permit for personal trainers will differ from location to location, therefore we can’t provide a direct answer to the question posed above.
Instead, in order to ensure that you have the correct personal trainer park licence you must contact the local council, parish, or private owner in charge of the specific park in which you intend to train.
Those who are responsible for tending to the public land are the only party that is allowed to allocate these licences to personal trainers.
Therefore, you will need to conduct your own research in order to determine who should be contacted regarding this personal trainer park licence.
Whilst this may seem like a lengthy process it’s absolutely a necessity for anyone looking to use parks for personal training sessions.
Failure to comply with your local authority’s jurisdiction over said park could result in fines and even prosecution.
#2 - Securing Insurance for Personal Training In The Park
In order to obtain personal trainer insurance you need to ensure that you’re fully qualified through the completion of a Level 3 Personal Trainer course. Without evidence to prove that you have obtained this qualification you won’t be able to receive insurance coverage.
Once fully qualified you should look for public liability insurance coverage which specifically protects you when training clients in outdoor venues.
Typically, insurance companies will cover PTs to train clients in numerous venues under one package, but this is not always the case. Therefore, you should always read the relevant site pages in order to determine what locations you’ll receive legal protection for.
For example, industry leader Insure4Sport states:
Insurance extending to outdoor training has been a recurring feature in standard in packages following the COVID-19 pandemic, with other providers including:
Public liability insurance will protect you when conducting personal training in the park in the instance that:
- A client causes damage to your property
- A client injures themselves following your teachings
- Your equipment is stolen by a third party
- You are personally injured and unable to work
Hiscox notes that when training in parks their policy can extend to other members of the public that are not your clients:
Therefore, when purchasing personal trainer insurance we advise you to provide as much detail as possible regarding your specific circumstances. This will ensure that you’re completely protected in the eyes of the law.
As previously discussed without providing proof that you’re fully insured you won’t be able to receive your personal trainer park permit. Failure to legally protect yourself could result in severe repercussions, including fines and jail time.
Personal trainer insurance packages range in price, with quotes varying depending on how much cover you wish to receive.
For example, Insure4Sport offers personal trainers the following options for level of coverage for the following prices:
However, keep in mind that this is just one provider’s options, others may generate differing quotes depending on your specific circumstances. Therefore, be sure to conduct some market research in order to determine whether you’re getting a good deal.
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Tips For Delivering The Perfect Park Training Session
Now that you know how to obtain a personal training park permit you can finally begin to work with clients in these public spaces.
However, before you begin, check out some of our top tips to ensure that each training session runs smoothly.
#1 - When Conducting Personal Training In The Park Respect The Rules and Regulations
As these parks are public spaces it’s to be expected that members of the public will be in attendance during your training sessions.
In order to ensure that every visitor has an enjoyable experience, the property owners may have set a list of rules and regulations to follow during the duration of your sessions.
For example, the Royal Parks of London have what they dub ‘The Code’ which states all trainers must:
- Only use handheld equipment such as Kettlebells, Resistance Bands, Skipping Ropes
- Give right of way to members of the public
- Not use the property of the park for exercising purposes - e.g. benches, trees, and tables
- Leave no forms of advertisement for your business
- Ensure to clean after every session
- Guarantee that no section of the park is overused to the point where visible damage is caused
Furthermore, they also include a section of that lists a series of ‘No Go’ circumstances that all trainers must adhere to:
Not every landowner in the country will be as strict when it comes to setting rules for personal training in parks.
This is merely an example to demonstrate the importance of respecting the regulations of the property owners. By following these guidelines you can ensure that the session runs smoothly for you and your clients.
#2 - Find The Right Space for Your Park Personal Trainer Sessions
Typically, when working at a gym planning personal training sessions is a fairly straightforward process. As a fitness expert you will know what equipment a client can use and for what duration in order to obtain their desired results.
However, when using a park for personal training this luxury will not be available to you, and you will need to plan according to the outdoor space itself.
Here are some aspects that you should consider when scouting locations for your personal training park sessions.
The Timings of the Workout: If a local sports team uses a specific area of a park then this vicinity may be inaccessible or too distracting during this period. Consult with the landowner regarding the schedule of other activities happening in the park and manage your schedule accordingly.
Search for Lighting: If you’re training clients during the winter months, chances are that you’ll be running some sessions in darkness. You should always look for a well-lit area to ensure any potential obstructions or hazards can be seen.
Be Close to the Park’s Facilities: Clients will need a place to leave their vehicles, along with restrooms and water fountains for personal comfort. If your park does not have this then you will need to inform the client so they can plan accordingly.
Shaded Areas: Whilst you want to ensure that you and your client have plenty of space to workout, another factor many fail to consider is that they’ll be exercising in direct sunlight. Exposure to this for prolonged periods can be incredibly harmful, so for your own comfort and that of your clients, we advise finding a shaded area.
The Visibility of Your Location: Some clients may not feel comfortable working out in front of others. If they have expressed this to you, be sure to look for an environment in which you will not be directly visible to the general public.
How Crowded The Area Is: If the client is specifically requesting a peaceful workout, you’ll want to find a location away from areas where large groups of people gather, e.g. close to the children’s playground.
With all this in mind, we advise you to walk through the park prior to the session taking place.
This will provide you with time to scout a prime location for you and your client to workout safely.
#3 - Carry Proof of Your Personal Trainer Park Licence
When training your clients in these public settings be sure to carry evidence that you hold a park permit for personal trainers. This could be photographic evidence of the licence in question, or it could be a laminated copy of the original document.
If you have been granted this document you legally have every right to train your clients in said park, but be aware that some individuals may still challenge you and ask you to provide proof.
This evidence should be proof enough, but just to be safe, be sure to keep a note of the land owners number so you can call for further confirmation.
This proof can also be beneficial if you only have permission to train on a specific section of the park. If another member of the public is using this space, calmly and politely approach them to explain the situation, using the documents for support.
#4 - Incorporate The Park’s Environment Into Your Personal Training Sessions When Possible
Using a park for personal training can actually encourage you to get creative in your approach to creating a bespoke workout plan.
Whilst some parks may have outside gym equipment available in the vicinity this isn’t always guaranteed, which may require you to incorporate aspects of the park’s environment into your clients workout.
This could be as straightforward as using the play area’s monkey bars as a substitute for a pull-up bar, or using a bench for support when engaging with single-leg lunges.
Alternatively, you could also use the trees in the surrounding area as pieces of equipment too, for workouts such as static sit-squats and supported push-ups.
Please keep in mind that some parks such as the Royal Parks of London have rules in place that prohibit you from using any of the park’s facilities for exercise purposes.
However, not all locations across the country will be this strict, and some will allow you to use the park’s environment in this manner, as long as you don’t damage the property.
Therefore, we’d like to again stress the importance of checking the park’s rules and regulations prior to the beginning of your session.
#5 - Be Sure to Check The Weather Prior to Using the Park for Personal Training
For immediate clarification, exercise is only deemed ‘unsafe’ in extreme weather conditions.
In any other circumstance, your client will still be able to participate with their regularly scheduled training sessions. However, there are some factors that you should take into consideration for specific types of weather.
When Conducting Park Personal Training Sessions in the Snow or Cold:
When exercising outdoors in the snow or cold weather you must be aware of the increased risk of hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature).
This condition typically occurs when your body temperature drops below 35°C, a process which sets in when you are exposed to cold weather below 10°C for prolonged periods of time.
This is not only a risk factor for you as the trainer, but for your client too. Some symptoms to be on the look out for include:
- Intense shivering
- Extreme fatigue
- Slurred Speech
- Loss of Coordination
There are ways to prevent hypothermia from occurring, so be sure to pass these methods on to clients prior to the beginning of the park personal training session:
- Cover - If the weather is cold be sure to stress the importance of wearing a hat and other protective layers to prevent body heat from escaping. Also, be sure to cover your hands with mittens instead of gloves.
- Layers - Loose-fitting layers of lightweight clothing are the ideal wardrobe. Outer layers should be comprised of tightly-woven waterproof jackets, whereas inner layers should be wool, silk or polypropylene to reduce the risk of body heat loss.
- Stay Dry: Staying dry as possible will reduce the risk of body heat loss. In particular focus on keeping hands and feet dry, as these will be the areas which heat is most likely to escape from.
As a PT it’s your responsibility to check the weather prior to your arranged session at the park, and relay any necessary information to the client. If it’s going to snow or be cold in any way, you should stress the importance of retaining body heat to your clients.
Personal Training in Public Parks During the Rain:
Exercising in the rain can also increase the risk of developing hypothermia, in which instance you should follow the same rules discussed above.
However, there are also a number of specific risks that can be attributed to rain specifically, such as slippery terrain. For this reason, we’d ensure to stress to your clients the importance of wearing shoes with good traction.
These shoes will have different points of contact with the ground, allowing the wearer to gain a better grip when exercising, reducing the risk of slipping on wet surfaces.
You should also be aware of the area's terrain during the rain, if the park becomes too muddy and/or slippery, then the training session may have to be called off for health and safety purposes.
Personal Training in Parks During Intense Heat and Sun
When it comes to personal training in parks, exercising in the heat may seem like the ideal situation, but there are still risks that you must take into consideration.
Under normal weather conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration levels will adjust to the heat. However, when temperatures and humidity reach extreme heights you could suffer from heat related illnesses including:
- Heat Cramps
- Heat Exhaustion
- Heat Stroke
Whilst these conditions alone aren’t major, if left untreated you or your client could potentially need to seek medical treatment. Early symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Visual problems
When using parks for personal training if you can implement the following prevention methods to ensure that neither you or your client suffers from these heat-related conditions:
- Drink Plenty of Fluids- Dehydration is a key cause of heat-related illnesses, be sure to consume plenty of water, or sports drinks in order to replenish bodily fluid that is lost through sweating.
- Acclimate - If your client is new to using parks for personal training then be sure to acclimate them to the heat. Don’t force a workout that is too intense, as this will only result in the onset of heat illnesses.
- Dress Appropriately - Both you and your client should wear loose fitting clothing that helps sweat evaporate. Avoid dark colours, as these will only absorb heat and increase body temperature.
- Wear Sunscreen - Sunburn can cause immense pain and increase the risk of skin cancer. But suncream will protect the skin and ensure that these risks are significantly reduced.
- Avoid Midday Heat - The sun is often at its most intense during midday, so be sure to avoid scheduling training sessions during this period.
Remember, as a personal trainer it's important to ensure that each of your clients are appropriately prepared for the session ahead.
Once you have assessed the weather conditions, communicate the potential risks to your clients and how they can avoid them.
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Before You Go!
Now that you have a better understanding of personal training in parks, you can put this advice into practice and begin to host your own sessions!
To boost your income further, get qualified to give expert nutriton advice to your clients by taking a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutriton qualification with OriGym.
Enquire now, or find out more by downloading our free course prospectus.
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