New premises licencing fee structure for gym operators on the cards

A new licencing category specifically for gymnasium operators is being mulled following a meeting between the Youth and Sports, and the Local Government Development Ministries in Putrajaya this morning.

The meeting was attended by Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh, the ministry’s secretary-general Dr K. Nagulendran, and Local Government Minister, Nga Kor Ming. Yeoh, had yesterday, told Twentytwo13 about the meeting.

Gymnasium Entrepreneurs Association Malaysia president K. Krishnakumar, who also attended the meeting, said he looked forward to a “positive outcome”.

Also discussed was the creation of several ‘tiers’ to ensure that gym operators who offered additional services beyond basic gymnasium facilities, did not fall into the same licencing fee structure.

Those who attended the meeting were also given a breakdown of the different fee structures imposed by the various local councils nationwide.

“We’ve been speaking about this for some time. I’m glad that finally, we have a minister (Yeoh) who is willing to listen, and I must put it on record, that she has been extremely supportive and helpful since this matter was raised during a townhall with her earlier this year,” said Krishnakumar, who owns Enrich Fitness.

“In fact, Yeoh has been contacting me personally regarding this since the townhall. That’s half the battle won. She is even willing to bring this up with the Cabinet and speak to the prime minister (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim).”

Krishnakumar said that he was able to explain the plight of gymnasium operators, especially those based in Kuala Lumpur and Subang, who have to pay high premises licencing fees compared to other states and businesses.

Operators in Kuala Lumpur are crying foul as they have to pay Kuala Lumpur City Hall RM50 per square meter. In comparison, an eatery selling fast food is only charged RM3 per square meter.

“In Subang, if your gymnasium takes up four shoplots, you have to pay about RM11,000 annually. On top of that, you have to pay a one-year deposit, so that’s RM22,000 up front, before you even start operating,” Krishnakumar said.

Krishnakumar told the meeting that the regulations by the local councils were rather archaic. He added that gymnasiums were lumped in the same category as health centres and spas.

“In the forms, it’s written that there shouldn’t be partitions, and mattresses … it’s like we’re applying for a licence to run a spa instead of a gymnasium.

“Some gymnasiums charge their patrons RM80 per month, while an hour’s massage is more than RM80. That’s a huge difference, but yet we are charged the same premises licencing fees.”

Krishnakumar hoped that the outcome of the meeting will eventually see local councils revising their regulations and fees.

“The government will not lose out. This is because gymnasiums are no longer just for bodybuilders, as in the past. It’s a lifestyle. We are in the business of encouraging people to exercise.

“If the fees are reduced, the consumers will not be burdened. Also, a ‘friendlier’ rate will encourage unlicensed gymnasium operators to apply for, and pay the premises licencing fees.”

Krishnakumar added it was important for gyms to be licenced, as it would allow the operators to secure bank loans, apply for government grants, perform banking transactions, and insure their premises and equipment.

Mindful that local councils come under the jurisdiction of the state governments, Krishnakumar said the states, especially Selangor, should be more sensitive in the pursuit of creating a healthy population.

“Community gymnasium operators enjoy a close relationship with the locals and take part in local activities. Let’s not forget that gymnasiums aren’t just about the big boys in the industry,” he added.

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