Gym owners and users in Jordan are now obliged to pay an additional tax of 16 percent, set by the government recently.
Gym owner Ahmad Ismail said that many people will not register if the prices of registration and training programmes increase.
“As gym owners and shareholders, we have to make profit, buy new machines, stay up-to-date, and now we have to pay taxes? It’s not logical,” he told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.
Ismail argued that the new tax is “too high” and “unreasonable”, noting that obesity and cholesterol levels are on the rise and people need to exercise and lead healthier lifestyles.
“Enforcing taxes will create more problems; it will discourage gym owners from offering new and improved services and people will lose track of their progress,” he added.
Marlene Abdallat, an employee at a gym in Amman, said that the gym is where most people can spend leisure time and get rid of stress.
“It’s one of the activities that can reduce stress and anxiety; people come here for a couple of hours on average to cool off and to get closer to their goals,” she added.
Another gym owner said that gyms and training centres are among the limited activities available to Jordanians.
“We find people of all ages exercising together at gyms. I think this decision will limit the number of gym users and increase health risks,” she told The Jordan Times.
According to the National Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Genetics, obesity rates among Jordanian women are around 82 percent and 80 percent for Jordanian men, with some 10 percent of Jordanians dying each year due to obesity.
Around JD650 million is spent annually by Jordanians to treat obesity, with more than half of Jordanian women suffering from chronic diseases such as arterial tension, diabetes and high triglycerides levels.
Around 46 percent of Jordanians aged 25 or older have diabetes, according to a report from the centre last year, but, according to one customer, the additional taxes will discourage people from using gyms and some to stop exercising entirely.
“People who go to the gym say that there are no proper spaces for training or running in public, which is why many Jordanians go to gyms and training centres. It [the new tax] will limit the indoor activities of Ammanis and Jordanians,” gym member Amal Haddad said.
By Suzanna Goussous
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