A DC tax on working out is getting gyms and their members worked up.
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- "I want a tax break for coming to the gym," said Jonathon Tourtellot, a gym member at City Fitness gym in the District's Cleveland Park neighborhood.
For some like Tourtellot, going to the gym is hard enough, without being taxed for it.
"I detest it but I have to go otherwise I get fatter than I already am and I end up costing the public more money," said Tourtellot.
The gym is doctor's orders for Tourtellot. However, now that DC will begin taxing gyms as a part of a tax package aimed at decreasing the overall tax burden on residents, Tourtellot's wallet will also be getting a workout.
Other businesses included in the tax hike will be yoga studios, water delivery and carpet cleaning services, car washes and bowling and billiards businesses.
Councilmember David Catania is against the gym tax.
"You use tax policy generally to discourage the things you want to discourage and encourage the things you want to encourage," he said.
Based on that, it would seem the district is discouraging people from going to the gym and getting healthy.
"I call it the incentive to stay out of shape tax. It seems like a strange way to encourage better public health," said Tourtellot.
Tax revenue gained in the short run will cost the District in the long run, added Catania.
"We will pick up additional costs in the long run in the way of increased health care costs," said Catania.
For now, it's businesses and their customers that will pick up costs.
For the independently operated City Fitness gym, raising dues has always been a struggle.
"Every time we raise our dues we risk and inevitably find members dropping out because the price has gone up a little bit more," said Dega Schembri, the Co-Owner of City Fitness.
The five percent tax hike, which takes effect January 1, 2015, has been strongly defended by council chair Phil Mendelson as a broader tax relief effort.
Catania countered that the $5 million in revenue the gym tax would generate is not needed.
"The treasury is flush, we don't need this," he said.
He added that there were other taxable alternatives that would not have deterred people from healthier lifestyles, including taxing anything from cosmetology, barber and beauty salons to construction services.
Still, the majority of the DC city council voted in favor of the gym tax.
"I think what you had was an old fashion horse trading. Chairman Mendelson was so keen on winning that he went member to member and essentially bought them off. There's no nicer way of saying it. Things that members wanted all of a sudden appeared on a revised budget. All their pet projects," said Catania.
"It seems to me they're putting this in the luxury category where getting your nails done or your car washed is a bit of a luxury but for many people going to the gym is the difference between life and death," said Schembri.
This gym tax could be death, added Schembri, for the gyms themselves.
"I'm concerned that it will be the nail in our coffin," she said.