Now it looks as though Life Time Fitness won't need to sweat about keeping its health club relationship with Minneapolis cops and firefighters after all.

A different City Council committee Monday voted to give the fitness chain a waiver from a city equal benefits ordinance that another council panel balked over last week. The full council is scheduled to settle the issue Friday.

The city ordinance requires that businesses providing services to the city offer equal benefits to domestic partners of their employees if they offer employee benefits. But Life Time doesn't offer domestic partner benefits.

The council's money committee voted 5-1 for the staff-recommended waiver, but it added a direction that city staff put the health club membership matter on the city's negotiating agenda for the next round of talks with unions representing police and firefighters. Some on the council have questioned whether the benefit, intended to keep cops and firefighters fit, is getting sufficient use.

"The fitness industry has a lot of catching up to do," said Council Member Gary Schiff, author of the equal benefits law, the only vote against the waiver. The committee was told that only the YWCA among other gyms seeking the contract complies with the law. A staff recommendation favored Life Time over three competing proposals because of its 25 metro locations, range of offerings and price. The deal is worth $460,400 annually.

Covered employees may opt to apply the same amount of money the city applies toward their Life Time membership toward another health club.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438