The man behind the popular “Beach Yoga With Brad” classes in Santa Monica, sessions that won our 2012 “Best of L.A.” pick, had to come up with several thousand dollars to clear some new red tape and continue his seaside pursuit in 2014.
See also: Beach Yoga With Brad.
The yoga classes are the victim of new Santa Monica rules that require personal trainers and other fitness instructors who use the city's open spaces to pay up or shut up.
Many in Santa Monica praised the new ordinance, which went into effect Jan. 1. High-end personal trainers were accused of using public areas, particularly Palisades Park, to conduct their business while crowding out others who wanted to enjoy the green space.
Some of the instructors were charging good money and making good money, too – – so the city decided to treat their pursuits as businesses being conducted on the people's property.
Now fees for the fitness gurus can amount to as much as $2,025 per quarter, depending on the location and size of their classes. And that affects even the guys who aren't in it for the money – like the eponymous Brad.
Brad Keimach, who also teaches yoga privately, says that on top of the quarterly fees, he had to pay for an annual business license, an annual permit fee and a premium for “some pretty steep insurance” to keep the poses going at the foot of Marine Street.
He told us he almost canceled the endeavor. It took a Kickstarter campaign to cover the more than $4,000 in costs, including his own $1,350-per-quarter use fees, to keep Beach Yoga With Brad going through the first half of 2014.
He asks students for $10 a head, but payment is based on the honor system. His classes at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays on the south end of the beach in Santa Monica draw as few as 10 people in the winter, he says.
Still, it has become an institution. The Boston Globe travel section and British Airways' in-flight magazine have both written about Beach Yoga With Brad.
“There's so much space on the beach,” he says:
We don't ask anyone else to move. There are hardly ever people there. If one wanted to hang their hat on being reasonable, it's hard to figure out why it's such an expensive nut to teach on the beach.
Last month he went before the Santa Monica City Council with a dozen or so students to ask for an exception to the fitness trainer rules, but his request didn't make the agenda. He's since given up on that.
But he is dedicated to doing something uniquely Southern Californian.
“It's a great class,” says longtime student Lauren Linett. “It's all ages, all levels. It gets people stuck in an office all day outside. It's sad they're trying to take it away.”
We reached out to Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown for his response. Here's what he said:
What started out as an effort to preserve historic Palisades Park from some pretty serious commercial group training abuse ended up as a broader program affecting parks and beaches citywide. The rates were suggested by one of the trainers, who assured us they were appropriate. The current ordinance is for a limited-time pilot program, and I hope when we revisit this we can get it right.
Ironically, Keimach says he moved to Santa Monica shortly after starting his classes on the beach in Venice almost six years ago because the City of Los Angeles required insurance and a percentage of his take.
“There was even more red tape than Santa Monica has now,” Keimach said. “So I moved over a couple hundred yards.”