Denver, The Opposite Of Boston

Denver kicked out group fitness classes from its public parks and open spaces.

Yoga on the Esplanade photo via The Esplanade Association Facebook

Yoga on the Esplanade photo via The Esplanade Association Facebook

Denver has always been known as a healthy, outdoorsy-type of city. It’s a place where more people ride bikes than drive cars, and where a weekend hike is not a workout, it’s second nature. The state of Colorado ranks in the top 10 for the country’s healthiest states. So it was shocking to read that the city of Denver is kicking fitness groups out of its parks.

That’s right. You can smoke a joint, but you can’t work out.

The New York Times published an article Wednesday detailing how fitness groups in Denver have been kicked out of using public parks and open spaces. They report:

The city rules are clear: No commercial activity without a permit. Historically, those rules mostly applied to concerts, festivals, races and food vendors. But in the past few years, the growing popularity of group training programs like CrossFit has filled the parks with clumps of people doing yoga, running suicide sprints and crab-walking up and down hills until their lungs ache.

Officials and neighbors say they are not trying to discourage fitness, but they say the sweaty throngs can be a nuisance, monopolizing sidewalks and fields. They say personal trainers and fitness centers are taking unfair advantage of taxpayer-financed public spaces, rather than paying for gym space.

Trainers and the fitness mavens who assemble in Denver’s parks roll their eyes at those arguments. It’s summertime, they say. And in a country battling obesity and high rates of heart disease and diabetes, they say, governments should be doing everything possible to get people up and moving.

So basically, the city of Denver is the opposite of Boston. Here, we have group fitness classes in pretty much every single park in the city, and most are free. Are some regulated and permitted? Perhaps. But many are not, like the November Project, whose free group fitness tribe has been using places like Harvard Stadium, Castle Island, and public parks for almost two years and we haven’t heard of the city giving them any problems.

Denver is working its issues out with a new system of permits and fees. How will they regulate it? Will they cap the number of people you can workout with? What if you just want to grab some of your friends and go workout in the park? Will you get a ticket if you have more than five friends? The whole thing seems odd. I understand gyms and personal trainers thinking that their businesses are affected, but in reality, it is public space and people should be able to workout however they want. In the age of obesity and rising health care costs, the city should be promoting fitness, not making it harder to workout. Let the people enjoy their summer!

Just another reason why we love Boston.