On 11 December 2019 the Minister of Sport and Recreation published the Draft National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill intending to regulate the unregulated fitness industry.

It appears that the Fitness Industry Regulatory Bill, 2017, published in terms of section 14 of the Act will be converted into regulations to be published under the draft bill.

Draft Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill, 2020

The draft Bill is a response to difficulties in the fitness industry that includes, amongst others:

  • unqualified fitness professionals appointed by the fitness establishments;
  • non-compliance to basic safety/health standards by certain fitness establishments;
  • no regulatory authority responsible for the enforcement of measures to safeguard the interests of role players and participants in the fitness industry; and
  • no punitive measures in place to create offences in order to deter possible offenders.

Fitness Industry Regulatory Authority

The draft Bill inserts a new section 11D specifically dealing with the fitness industry. In terms of the new insertion, the Minister may establish a Fitness Industry Regulatory Authority ("FIRA") to oversee, administer and govern a safe environment for the fitness industry. FIRA will consist of five members appointed by the Minister. FIRA will, among others, deal with:

  • the registration of fitness controlling bodies and fitness professionals and accreditation and requirements of fitness establishments;
  • the constitutions and powers of fitness controlling bodies; the inspection of fitness establishments by FIRA inspectors; the issuing of sanctions against fitness establishments; and
  • the provision of offences, penalties and dispute resolution mechanisms.

FIRA will also be responsible to award licences to fitness professionals and accredit fitness establishments. FIRA will be empowered to inspect fitness establishments for their compliance with applicable law. FIRA may close a fitness establishment or suspend the accreditation of a fitness establishment; withdraw or suspend the registration of a person as a fitness professional, if a fitness establishment or fitness professional is found to be guilty of non-compliance of the Act or its regulations.

FIRA may determine the subscription fee payable by fitness establishments and fitness professionals on an annual basis in accordance with an appropriate grading system and issue grading certificates in accordance to the size and capacity of a fitness establishment. FIRA must ensure that all safety measures are in place at a fitness establishment before issuing a grading certificate.

Fitness Industry of South Africa Regulations, 2009

The Minister for Sport and Recreation published the Fitness Industry of South Africa Regulations, 2009 in terms of section 14 of the Act. The regulations seek to specifically regulate the fitness professionals and fitness establishments. However, the regulations have not come into effect.

A fitness professional should be registered with a statutory body established specifically for the regulation of the fitness industry. No person may practice as a fitness professional unless he or she has applied to and registered as a fitness professional by the Fitness Board. To be eligible for registration as a fitness professional, an applicant must have obtained the qualifications as set by the Fitness Board. The Fitness Board may not register a person or remove a person on the register if in the opinion of the Fitness Board such person by reason of a conviction in South Africa or elsewhere, is not fit to practise as a fitness professional.

The Fitness Board will keep separate registers in respect of various rolls of fitness professionals. A registered fitness professional must always conduct himself or herself in accordance with the provisions of the code of conduct determined by the Fitness Board. A registered fitness professional will only practice for the period approved by the Fitness Board.

No person may employ a person to perform the work of a fitness professional unless such a person is a registered fitness professional. This prohibition will not apply to a student fitness professional registered with an accredited education and training provider if the fitness training is performed for purposes of his or her training and is supervised by a registered fitness professional.

The Fitness Board will also accredit and grade a fitness establishment. The Board may not approve a fitness establishment that does not comply with the criteria for accreditation. The grading system will have two grading systems for fitness establishments, namely for multi-purpose establishments and single purpose establishments. A multi-purpose establishment will have 5 grades of establishment, namely Blue, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. A single purpose establishment will have 4 grades of establishment, namely Blue, Bronze, Silver and Gold. A fitness establishment must not conduct business as a fitness establishment unless such an establishment has been approved and accredited as a fitness establishment. An accredited fitness establishment must comply with the accreditation conditions and operate for the period determined by the Fitness Board. As a general rule, all establishments, regardless of their grading, must ensure full compliance with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

The Fitness Board will keep separate registers for all registered fitness professionals and accredited fitness establishments.1

The Fitness Board may, on own initiative or submission from a complainant, convene a disciplinary panel to consider the conduct of a registered fitness professional or accredited fitness establishment. If the Fitness Board is of the opinion that a registered fitness professional or accredited fitness establishment has contravened the code of conduct of the fitness industry, the Fitness Board may impose an appropriate sanction. The Fitness Board may also of its own initiative convene an extraordinary audit of an accredited fitness establishment.


1 With respect to a registered fitness professional, an appropriate sanction may include a written warning; a fine not exceeding R10 000; suspension of the registered fitness professional for a period of time as specified by the Fitness Board; removal of the registered fitness professional from the fitness professional register.

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