Post by Pamela Hernandez
- 30.5% of Missourians are obese.
- Missouri is the 12th most obese state in the country.
- 26.7% of Missourians report participating in zero physical activity during an average month.
- The health care cost of obesity in Missouri is projected to be over $11 billion by 2018.
These facts and figures should be a call to action for the State of Missouri. They should be finding ways to encourage people to take their health and fitness seriously. Instead, they find the health of Missourians amusing.
Late last year a ruling by the Missouri Department of Revenue came to my attention which classifies gym memberships and fees for personal training and fitness classes under “amusement”. After conferring with two accountants, I found this ruling to not be a misunderstanding of the services I provide. I am require to charge sales tax to my clients and remit payment to the state for all services going forward as well as pay the taxes that weren’t collected previously.
Thankfully, this won’t effect my day to day operations. I am a cautious businessperson. I am prepared for emergencies and unanticipated expenses. It does mean the open house in my new location in the spring might not be as big as I had hoped. It means I can’t buy the new punching bag I had my eye this month. It does NOTHING to my passion for fitness or my desire to give my best to my clients.
I understand the need in these tight financial times to collect revenue. Yet I find this method insulting to me and to you. While I strive to create an environment that makes the workouts enjoyable I also know that the primary goal of my client’s sessions is self-betterment and improvement to their health, not amusement.
Here is what I propose instead.
The tax needs to be repealed. Missouri HB 149 has been filed as follows:
This bill removes from state and local sales and use taxes the cost
of admission to and the fees paid to places of recreation.
This is the wrong way to solve the problem. Going to the movies is for amusement. Personal training and health coaching is not. The classification of fitness as amusement still stands. The State of Missouri needs to take a stand and declare health a priority. A bill needs to be filed that moves fitness out of the recreation classification and treat it like a health care service. It’s time for Missouri to lead on this issue instead of falling to the bottom of the list on another important issue.
The fitness industry needs to step up and agree to a state licensing requirement. If the State of Missouri needs a way to collect revenue than they should license personal trainers. I would welcome regulations that standardized expectations for personal trainers. This would be a cost of business to me and NOT my clients. I want to encourage them to get moving, not penalize them. No businessperson likes more expenses. But if it means being accepted as part of the wellness team and giving citizens a better quality of fitness professional then I am all for it.
In the meantime I must do what the state of Missouri says I must do. My clients are awesome and taking the change in stride. I will still get up every morning with the same resolve to find simple solutions to the real fitness problems we face each day. Everyday I will keep working to make this world a better and healthier place. If you wish to help please contact your state representative. Let them know that your gym membership, yoga class or personal training session is about your health, something that is not a laughing matter.
Posted on January 24th, 2013