Except in very limited circumstances, gym fees and other fitness expenses (such as skipping ropes, weights and other fitness equipment) are private expenses. You can't claim a deduction for these expenses.
This is the case even if you're required to pass medical examinations and fitness tests to maintain your employment.
Members of the regular Australian Defence Force, police officers and firefighters can't claim their fitness expenses.
However, there are very limited circumstances where you can claim a deduction if your employment requires an extremely high level of fitness. This means strenuous physical activity is an essential and regular element of your work.
Regardless of your circumstances, you can't claim a deduction for conventional clothing you use in the course of keeping fit. This includes such things as tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, T-shirts and shorts.
Example: private fitness expense
Mahendra is an intelligence officer for the Royal Australian Navy. He prepares intelligence briefings and generally carries out intelligence analysis tasks. Most of this work is done at his desk.
Mahendra has a membership at a private gym and goes there 3 times a week to maintain the fitness levels required for his employment in the Navy.
Mahendra can't claim the costs of his gym membership as it is a private expense. While Mahendra needs to keep a certain level of fitness for his employment, his duties don't require strenuous physical activity.End of example
Example: deductible fitness expense
Nola is a trapeze artist and tumbler with a circus. She has a gym membership and takes regular Pilates and yoga classes. She also trains and rehearses with her company to develop new trapeze and tumbling routines, and performs 6 nights a week.
Nola would be able to claim her fitness costs. Her job is to rehearse and perform trapeze and tumbling acts for the circus, which is a strenuous physical activity that is an essential and regular part of her duties. Maintaining an extremely high level of physical fitness is essential to her job.End of example
Example: deductible expense and private expense
Bill is a police academy physical training instructor. He regularly attends a commercial gym to ensure he can perform his duties. Bill's fitness expenses for the year include gym fees and the cost of a tracksuit.
As Bill's ordinary duties require regular strenuous physical activity, he can deduct his gym fees but not the cost of the tracksuit. The tracksuit is conventional clothing, so the expense is private in nature.
If Bill was a general duties police officer, he wouldn't be entitled to claim a deduction for his gym fees. Although he would have to maintain a standard level of fitness, his role wouldn't involve strenuous physical activity. Bill's expenses in these circumstances would be private.End of example