Who’s Heath is it Anyway?

Heathen writes:

I wonder if you or your readers have any information about the company that seems to be taking over part of the Heath alongside St German’s Place. Most evenings now, a little van turns up, someone gets out and sets up an advertisng hoarding and stakes out an ever-increasing piece of the Heath and very shortly afterwards loads of people turn up and start doing star jumps all over the place.

As the Heath is common land, how is this company allowed to do this? Can we all go out and stake out a bit of Heath for our own commercial purposes?

I reckon it’s British Military Fitness, but I could be wrong. I simply cannot imagine anyone ever paying to be shouted at by a sergeant major.


Filed under blackheath

16 responses to “Who’s Heath is it Anyway?

  1. I am sure it’s the military fitness gang… not sure I want to tell them to stop though… they’re all big fellas!!

  2. Gill

    Yes, they turn up on Sunday mornings too. It’s BMF.

    I think I’ve seen them into Greenwich Park too for their runs on occasion.


    Do companies have to pay to use the heath?

    • Simon

      That is not actually where BMF meet. They meet just outside the gate to the entrance of Greenwich Park. They don’t usually put a board out either. They normally arrive in a blue van.

      They are actually really good value. You pay to get trained by ex army trainers and it is loads of fun.

      I do the sessions and they’ve worked wonders for my fitness and I’m not really sporty.

      I’ve asked them before and the answer is yes, they do pay, plus they have to have all the insurance and other red tape paperwork all done before they are allowed to train there.

  3. Tom

    I run with BMF and I can tell you it’s not them. They do all their stuff based from a van at Duke Humphrey Road, right where the donkeys are at the entrance of Greenwich Park.

    We run on the heath during the winter and in G Park in the summer. I know BMF pay the Park for its use not sure about the heath. I suspect so – or at least have a paid-for licence. They are good guys that run it and pretty respectful of ‘civvies’.

    The lot you are talking about are a rival firm to BMF. I forget its name I’m afraid.

  4. Hi Gill, Tudor and Heathen et al,

    Barney Larkin, marketing manager for BMF. It probably is us! Our instructors wear combat trousers and a blue t-shirt. Our clients wear numbered bibs (blue, red and green) Yes, we pay handsomely to use the heath and all our venues. Our classes are great fun, effective – we get people losing weight and improve their fitness. They are also very social. Why not try one out?! First class is free…and the guys never shout at you!



  5. Ed

    I can’t believe you are complaining about people running on the heath. It’s great that it’s being used for local people to get fit (and so what if a little money is made by some people showing initiative).

    • Gill

      Hi Ed,
      I wasn’t complaining about the heath being used, I was just curious if companies had to pay to make us of the space.

      I ‘run’ round the heath regularly myself, so any company from fellow sufferers is gratefully received. It’s good to have something else to look at apart from queues of traffic.


  6. Sue

    I agree with Ed – its great seeing people using the Heath for exercise and fun. Even though I worry sometimes about the danger to others, I am even happy to accept the men practising their golf swings or flying their huge kites while skateboarding at ninety miles an hour, who all tend to gather on “my bit” of the Heath.

  7. Sam

    I park my car by the residents bit of the church on the heath. It’s been funny some evenings walking to the car in the dark and dodging the gauntlet of the BMF doing laps around the church..! Good on them, it’s public open space, make the most of it.

  8. Tom

    I think the company that Heathen is asking about is actually this company: http://www.burnitfitness.co.uk/

    I have seen them by St German’s Place a couple of times and by the pond area.

    Haven’t seen them running but have seen them doing star jumps etc as Heathen says!

    • Heathen

      That’s them. I certainly wasn’t complaining about people using the Heath, I’m always happy to see Blackheath being used by all sorts of people, the more the merrier. I’ve seen BMF in the Park but yes, it’s a different group at St German’s Place.

      My point, perhaps not clearly-enough made, was that they’re not just running around or across the Heath, but staking out a section of it for their own, presumably commercial, purposes. I just wondered how it was possible for a comapny to do that on what I believed to be common land.

      • Donnie

        Hi Heathen,

        They do take up a section of the heath like alot of other fitness companies on blackheath common, however they have to pay a huge potrion to use the area and ensure they comply with regulations. They always clean up after themselves and are mindful of others on the common and residents. Maybe the people who use the heath on hot days leaving a heap of their rubbish behind for someone else to cleanup should be written about by the POW or the church!!!

  9. Who owns Blackheath? Is it the Corporation of the City of London? Do the Bye-laws, if any, allow the described activities on common land (if that part is common land)? No problem if they are limited to recreational walking and certain “allowed” activities…?

    But is that part of the “heath” a village green or town green? Does the Commons Act 2006 apply. If so, the activities need to be lawful sports and pastimes and parttaken by those living in the neighbourhood or locality. My Common Lands Handbook looks such “heritage lands”.

  10. jackthecat

    I do BMF and it’s not us until the park closes in the evening during the winter.

    As Barney says the company pays the Royal Parks and the relevant Authorities for using the open spaces and they in turn specify where we can train.

    Where BMF operates crime and vandalism is often reduced and it’s great fun and a very sociable way of keeping fit.

    Most members at Blackheath are from the local community and use the various establishments adjacent to the park and heath contributing to the businesses there.

    Give it a go! We’re a very friendly bunch and you’ll be made very welcome.

    • Wilson

      It’s 8pm on a cold Wednesdsy night and we’re trying to get our 5 month baby to sleep. The trouble is, we live in Duke Humphrey Road and a BMF instructor is outside our building barking orders at 25 Christmas guilt filled civilians.

      BMF, you have the entire Heath to work your fitness magic. Please consider the residents and take your army elsewhere and out of earshot to the rest of us. The reason we moved here was for peace and quiet. Instructions on how to sprint and which side of the road to run on destroy that dream and wake our baby.

      Thanks and I’ve also written to your head office.

  11. Rex Munday

    Geez, where do people like you get off? You’re like a 19th century Methodist busybody who lies awake at night just seething at the thought that someone, somewhere just might be having fun. I don’t know this BMF lot from
    Adam but I’m pretty sure that 10, 20, 50 or whatever people doing star jumps somewhere on the expanse that is the Blackheath doesn’t represent a mortal threat to peace and tranquility of the Village

    Your type is the reason I didn’t miss Blackheath when I upped stumps and moved a few miles away some years back. Between the Blackheath Society, the obnoxious & thick publicans, and the trumped up Pelicans that run the rugby club there’s not a jot of tolerance for ‘others’ whose mere presence represents a threat, mostly imagined and always overblown, to your tiny existence. Do you own the Blackheath? Nope. Thought not. Are there avenues through which you can approach the issue of the unclean peasantry blighting *your* Heath? Yes. It’s called your mouth and a personality that gets exercised not hiding behind a keyboard (and before you raise the subject, yes I’m prepared to say this in person, just email me and we can arrange to discuss.).

    As for the lad who was having trouble getting your child to sleep; as much as I do empathise, you too might try also to exercise your jaws. Just be polite and people respond. It works. It really does.

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