NEWBURYPORT — Local fitness studios are cleaning up the city’s parks following a social media campaign and challenge by the Parks Commission to fill as many leaf bags with weeds as possible before Sept. 4.
After studio spaces across the state were forced to close this past spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parks Commission voted to waive the permit fee and allow all fitness studios, as well as some other small businesses, to host classes in the city’s parks, according to Commission chair Kim Turner.
Since then, a number of studios, which typically rely on their spaces for business, have been able to host a variety of socially distant gatherings outdoors.
“It has been wonderful to see so many yoga classes, fitness classes, karate classes, ballroom dancing, etc. utilize our public parks, knowing we are helping them to keep the lights on while their indoor studios continue to be closed,” Turner wrote in an email.
Additionally, she said that the city’s parks “are being used now more than ever by residents needing to get outside.”
With a tight city budget due to COVID-19 though, the department had to reduce its staffing this summer and instead, moved to rely on “our amazing group of volunteers,” Turner said.
In hoping to get others to help weed the parks, too, Turner issued the challenge to all fitness studios to see which business could fill the most leaf bags.
The challenge, which began Aug. 10, continues through Friday.
As of last week, the Parks Commission had collected an estimated 45-55 leaf bags.
Fuel Training Studio, Motivate and the YWCA, as well as Aurora Ballroom and The Dojo in Salisbury are among the studios participating.
“It’s been a wonderful community building exercise,” Turner said.