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By Chuck Leve, AFS Business Consultant & Manager.

By the time you read this, it’s very likely that the District of Columbia will have enacted what’s been called a “gym tax” in an effort to balance their 2015 budget. This new, 5.75% tax on memberships and fees affects gyms, yoga studios and other health club services in an effort to revise D.C.’s tax structure and reduce the overall burden on D.C. residents.

We sympathize with D.C. and all state and local governments. Finding money and staying solvent is a challenge of enormous proportions. There are no boundaries to this burden.

But what about the burden of the cost of the obesity crisis and its accompanying illnesses? Federal governmental studies have shown this cost to be an astronomical $117 billion and climbing. A tax on fitness means we, the healthy, must continue to subsidize the unhealthy.

That’s more than unhealthy. It’s unfair.

Further, such laws are a detriment to attracting people who need our services the most. The tax will simply be added on to the price of membership or sessions. The price of living a healthy lifestyles continues to rise. The barrier to entry becomes more formidable.

This is a threat to our industry that will always be there, lurking in the small print of whichever governmental agency needs money. We’re an easy mark and with studios, we’re still not organized enough to influence governmental decisions.

But we’ll get there. In the meantime, we support the efforts of SFIA, IHRSA, PHIT America, ACE and all other fitness organizations fighting the good fight.

Chuck is a 40-year veteran of the fitness industry and proven successful developer of fitness industry
 associations. He’s been involved in the creation and development of some of the most successful trade 
associations in the history of the fitness industry including IHRSA.