Fitness group, Virgin Active South Africa has opposed the setting up of a Fitness Industry Regulatory Authority for the industry saying any oversight would ultimately affect the consumer. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
Fitness group, Virgin Active South Africa has opposed the setting up of a Fitness Industry Regulatory Authority for the industry saying any oversight would ultimately affect the consumer. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Virgin Active opposes a fitness industry regulatory authority

By Banele Ginindza Time of article published Feb 28, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG – Fitness group, Virgin Active South Africa has opposed the setting up of a Fitness Industry Regulatory Authority for the industry saying any oversight would ultimately affect the consumer.

In submission made to the Minister of Sport, Art and Culture Nathi Mthethwa regarding the proposed amendments to the Sports and Recreation Act, the group, which operates 136 health clubs nationwide and serves more than 800 000 members said it is critical that the government considers the full impact of the amendments on the industry as a whole, including smaller operators, individual fitness professionals, the consumer and the taxpayer, who could end up carrying the cost of further unneeded government regulation.

“The fitness industry in South Africa already operates within a comprehensive regulatory framework - further oversight adds no value to the industry or the consumer. Regulation will place an administrative burden on the industry, particularly for smaller operators and individual fitness professionals.

“We foresee increased costs to operators, the individuals that operate within the industry, and ultimately the consumer, who stands to see little benefit from this,” said Mark Field, managing director Virgin Active South Africa.

It said the fitness industry has an important role to play in improving the health of society and reducing the burden on the health care system, pointing out that the rising prevalence of lifestyle linked diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension can be effectively managed through exercise, thereby reducing stress on the healthcare system.

“The government should therefore be encouraging investment and growth in the industry, and discourage anything that adds more cost, drives job losses, and creates additional barriers to entry,” it said.

The fitness chain is partly owned by SA-listed Brait which in 2015 acquired 80 percent in the international health club operator Active Topco (Virgin Active) for about R12 billion.

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