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IHRSA Advocate

The IHRSA Advocate is your guide to knowing and understanding the policies that influence daily health club operations. We analyze the action, so you know when to take your own.

For more timely relevant news about advocacy issues affecting the industry, and your bottom-line, subscribe to​ the bi-weekly (member-only) IHRSA Advocate newsletter

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March 14 Issue

We’re back from sunny Los Angeles where we had a great time spending four amazing days with many of you. Now it is back to work. One of our top legislative priorities involves doing everything in our power to ensure PHIT passes in the 115th Congress. PHIT received an outstanding showing of support during IHRSA 2017 last week, so thank you once again to all of you who took action, made a difference, and brought us one step closer to reaching our goal. But don’t worry, in case you missed the Virtual PHIT Fly-Inor want to relive the excitement—you’ll have plenty of opportunity to participate in the #PassPHIT Campaign.

Check out the photographic recap showing the efforts to #PassPHIT during IHRSA’s 36th Annual International Convention & Trade Show. 

Ask Your Member of Congress to Help #PassPHIT

What are you waiting for? Tweet at them and let your voice be heard.

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10 Moments From the PHIT Fly-in at IHRSA 2017

As you know, the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act was introduced in Congress earlier this month. If it passes, it could be a monumental success for the health club industrymaking physical activity more affordable by allowing consumers to use pre-tax accounts to pay for qualified fitness expenses, including health club memberships. But just because PHIT can pass, does not mean that it will. It will take a collaborative industry effort to make it happen. This movement began last week at IHRSA 2017 in Los Angeles.

Here are 10 moments from the PHIT Fly-in last week:

#PassPHIT fans were distributed during Thursday's keynote address to get the industry excited about opportunities to pass PHIT. 

IHRSA president and CEO, Joe Moore, encourages convention attendees to take action to pass PHIT prior to the keynote.

Patriotic balloons were also distributed to get attendees in the spirit.

IHRSA Board Members Allison Flatley and Jim Worthington get the crowd excited about passing PHIT.

Attendees respond to Joe Moore's request to take action on PHIT.

Derek Gallup (left), IHRSA's Meredith Poppler, and Jim Worthington (right) show newest ILC member, Mike Spiegel, the importance of passing PHIT.

Industry leaders gathered at the ILC Meeting on Thursday to discuss ways to drive excitement to pass PHIT.

Brad Wilkins, Bryan O’Rourke, Alan Leach, and Carrie Kepple were elected to the IHRSA Board of Directors during Friday's keynote address. They proudly wore #PassPHIT stickers in support of the legislation.


February 28 Issue

IHRSA 2017 is next week. Are you ready? In addition to #PassPHIT efforts, which will be very prominent during the convention, here is your policy briefing before you arrive in Los Angeles.

How to Sculpt Your Leadership Muscles

Leadership is not defined by a single trait. A successful leader knows their personal leadership brand and is able to help others craft their own. Find out more by attending the ILC Experience for IHRSA 2017.

Now Introducing Your Legislative and Legal Lineup

Tax exempt competition got you down? It shouldn’t. At IHRSA 2017, learn how to resolve legislative and legal dilemmas by arming yourself with the knowledge you need to protect your business from harm

Boost Business with Health Promotion Programs

Think your club might benefit from offering a medical wellness, corporate wellness, or nutrition program? Think you might benefit from discussions with top health promotion and wellness experts? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, we’ll look forward to seeing you and your team at the Health Promotion Track at IHRSA 2017.

IHRSA’s advocacy staff will be onsite during IHRSA 2017 to assist you with any legislative, legal, or health promotion questions you may have. Please visit us at the Los Angeles Convention Center in the Industry Leaders Club, Room 304.

See You in Los Angeles

In case you missed it, here is a list of our favorite things to do in LA.

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Tone Your Leadership Muscles: Upgrade your IHRSA 2017 Convention with the ILC Experience

"I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people."

Wise words spoken by a true leader. And Mahatma Gandhi is not wrong. One significant key to exercising great leadership expertise is the ability to communicate effectively with others. But leadership is not defined by a single trait. Successful leaders build upon their knowledge by flexing their creative muscles, seeking alternative ways to strengthen these muscles, and communicating with other leaders on ways they can effectively tone their individual leadership skills.

In other words, leaders must first identify and craft their personal leadership style and brand before teaching others how they can do the sameyou must learn to walk before you can run.

That is why personal branding is the topic of interest for the ILC Experience for IHRSA 2017. Branding is integral to your business, and as a business leader, you are your company’s main brand representative.

Therefore, industry leaders (i.e. members of the ILC) are the industry’s main brand representatives. Better your brand, your business grows. Better the industry’s brand, the whole industry grows.

This year’s ILC Experience will feature a number of discussions surrounding ways to build your personal brand, in addition to the following highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • Private Q & A discussions with all four keynote speakers: Seth Mattison, Martin Lindstrom, Johnny ‘Cupcakes’ Earle, and Soraya Darabi.

  • The ILC Summit and Leadership Reception with personal branding expert Nick Westergaard.

  • The Industry Leadership Council (ILC) Meeting & Lunch with a discussion on efforts to raise the profile of the industry. Opportunities to encourage physical activity and strategies to prevent risks and threats to club operations will be discussed.

So, are you fit to lead? Do you want to take the next step toward in building your leadership skills? Then join the ILC today. Any contribution to the Industry Leadership Council of $500 or more includes the ILC Experience package. And, 100% of your contribution goes to supporting IHRSA’s efforts to Grow, Promote & Protect the industry.

According to previous attendees, these are events you won’t want to miss:

“ most memorable experience so far was listening to the 2016 ILC Summit keynote speaker, Ann Handley. She spoke about how our story is what makes us different, and that we need to find a way to tell bolder, bigger and braver stories. It was an excellent session on marketing and very useful. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the ILC sessions once again this year.” - Karen Raisch-Siegel, LifeWorks of Southwest General

“...we love the great experience you’ve created for ILC Members at the annual convention. IHRSA is our annual opportunity to have meetings with fitness professionals and vendors; it's our time to brainstorm, reconnect with our colleagues, and learn about new ideas and products.

Having the opportunity to meet with keynote presenters, have lunch, and attend private sessions has enhanced our IHRSA experience immensely.

And having use of the Industry Leadership Club has taken our IHRSA experience to another level. This welcoming room and environment not only makes us feel special, but it provides an amazing meeting space to conduct our business.” - Lori Lowell, Gold's Gym Lake Ridge

Visit to learn more about the Industry Leadership Council (ILC) or contact Meredith Poppler to join and register for the ILC Experience.


Everything You Need to Know About the Third Annual Health Promotion Track

On a typical business day, do you offer health promotion programming options for your members? If so, how many options do you have? And which members needs do these programs account for?

If now is the first time that you’ve thought about the above questions, perhaps now is the opportune moment to reflect on the purpose behind your program offerings and whether these opportunities are helping members make the most of their fitness experience.

No matter whether you are new to working in the club business or have worked in the industry for years, this year’s Health Promotion Track at IHRSA 2017 will help you learn about new ways you can differentiate your club from its competitors and offer members a variety of programming options that address their specific needs.

Speakers and panelists will present on a number of topics which include medical wellness, corporate wellness, chronic disease management, and nutrition programs. And, this year, there will be an increased focus on discussions surrounding community engagement and its impact on staff and member retention and brand loyalty.

You won’t want to miss:

  • Dr. Greg Degnan, medical director at ACAC, speak about how clubs can get started with medical wellness programming, while a panel of experts  offers best practice tips to  clubs seeking to expand their medical wellness programming through physician outreach.

  • Bill McBride, president & CEO of Active Wellness, define the link between fitness, wellness, and medicine and how each is used to improve individual and community health.

  • Constance Ruiz, president & co-founder of VivaFit, host a tutorial on how to integrate nutrition programming into weight loss programming.

The Health Promotion and Wellness Track kicks off on the first day of IHRSA 2017, but health and wellness will also be the previous night’s theme, as industry leaders come together to support the IHRSA FoundationIHRSA’s charity, which focuses on helping clubs offer outcomes-based wellness programs.

The IHRSA Foundation VIP Reception, being held on March 7, will create a unique opportunity for industry professionals to network with other leaders and support the IHRSA Foundation’s ACCESS Health Initiative. ACCESS Health is a collection of programs designed to help clubs open their doors to people with disabilities and chronic conditions such as cancer and diabetes. Five ACCESS Health pilot projects will be underway in IHRSA clubs in 2017. We hope you will join us for this special event.

To learn more about the Health Promotion Track at IHRSA 2017, please contact Amy Bantham, and to support the IHRSA Foundation or host an ACCESS Health pilot program, visit


Learn the Legislative and Legal Ropes at IHRSA 2017

Believe it or not, one day—if not today—your club may have to face threats to business operations, in the form of poorly constructed legislative or legal proposals. And believe it or not—when a harmful situation presents itself it can often be difficult to determine the best course of action to ensure the safety and security of your club and your members.

The good news is, there are ways to prevent being caught off-guard when sticky circumstances arise. The best way to prepare for a potential threat is to anticipate it and educate yourself about the steps you can take to both minimize and prohibit damage to your business ahead of time.

Next week, at IHRSA 2017, a wide range of experts will share their insights and best practices on ways to combat legal and legislative threats to your business. Topics of interest will include everything from how to manage threats from tax exempt competition to how to think creatively to resolve state-specific policy issues impacting health club businesses.

IHRSA’s Helen Durkin will start things off on Wednesday, March 9, by moderating the Tax Exempt Competition Forum from 9:00 am - 10:15 am.

On Thursday, the legislative and legal sessions will continue with discussions surrounding: Compliance, Employment Laws & Legal Liabilities (7:45 am - 8:00 am), Top Legal Risks & Solutions for Facility Owners & Membersled by Aaron Werner, J.D. (3:30 pm - 4:30 pm), and a California Club Operators Meeting (5:00 pm - 6:00 pm). And these sessions will wrap up on Friday afternoon with the Pennsylvania Club Operators Meeting from 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm.

So, what do you say? Will we see you at one of these sessions—working in conjunction with us to defend the best interests of your business and the industry as a whole?

To learn more about legislative and legal sessions being offered at IHRSA 2017, please contact IHRSA’s public policy team at, and for more information on IHRSA’s advocacy efforts, visit


February 14 Issue

Happy Valentine’s Day from the IHRSA team. We love you. Thank you for being loyal members and readers. XOXO.

Exercise Gives You Endorphins...

Endorphins make you happy. But that’s not all. If couples enjoy regular workouts together, there are even more health and relationship benefits your club can promote.

AEDs: What the Heart Needs

Regular exercise can help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, but this life-threatening condition can also happen while exercising at a club. This Valentine's Day, we examine the intersection of AEDs and sudden cardiac arrest, in addition to the legal and legislative issues surrounding AED use.  

Writing to Say ‘You’re My Number One’

IHRSA recently released our new 2016 Advocacy Impact Report with 2017 Legislative Forecasting andbased on your feedbackwe think you like it. A lot. In case you missed it, see what all the buzz is about.

Step Away from the Chocolate Strawberries

Swap them for exercise instead.

“...we need doctors to team with wellness professionals—like dietitians, stress management specialists, and local health clubs—so the underlying causes of chronic disease are addressed,” says IHRSA's Helen Durkin in today's commentary in Morning Consult.

IHRSA's #healthpolicyvalentine 

Roses are red, violets are blue, help #PassPHIT now, you know what to do.

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Love Your AED: It Can Save a Life

Every year, approximately 300,000 people in the United States experience sudden cardiac arrest, an unexpected life-threatening condition in which the heart stops beating. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is usually a result of ventricular fibrillation, a malfunction in the heart's electrical system. The heart stops pumping blood to the brain and body, leading a person to collapse and lie unresponsive.

While regular physical activity can prevent SCA, the condition can happen at any time, including when a person is exercising. In a 2015 study cited by Harvard Medical School, researchers reviewed 1,247 cases of SAC in middle-aged men and women over an 11-year period and determined that 63 of the cases occurred during exercise. 

Nine out of ten victims of SCA do not survive, but using an automated external defibrillator (AED) can increase chances of survival. AEDs are portable electronic devices that check the heart's condition anddepending on the device’s diagnosisprompt a bystander to administer shocks to restore a normal heart rhythm. If a bystander, such as a club employee, uses an AED to treat a victim before paramedics arrive, the survival rate increases from ten percent to 38 percent, reports the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of SCA.

To address the public health implications of SCA, many state legislatures have moved in the direction of requiring public places, such as health clubs, large entertainment venues, and public schools to house an AED and ensure the proper use of an AED in case of an emergency.

For example, under California state law, every health club must acquire, maintain, and train personnel in the use of an AED. The law states that a person rendering treatment is not liable for civil damages resulting from the use or nonuse of an AED, unless injury or death results from gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

When a state legislature considers a bill that would require health clubs to maintain an AED or considers changing a mandate already in effect, IHRSA works to ensure that there are adequate liability protections for club staff. Most recently, in 2016 IHRSA monitored AED legislation in Connecticut and Massachusetts for inclusion of liability protections (neither advanced into law), and in 2017, IHRSA is tracking a bill in Tennessee. If you have questions on AED requirements in your state, contact IHRSA at and visit


Exercise is Good for Your Heart, In More Ways Than One

Dating has changed a lot in the past 20 years, but fitness and health are still bringing people together. Whether you meet your swole-mate at the gym, using a fitness based dating app, or in a way that has nothing to do with working out, there are still many health benefits to be had by hitting the gym with your valentine.

For starters, exercise can help improve energy, which means both couples have more time for each other. Physical activity is also known to boost confidence and self-esteem, and research indicates that low self-esteem in one or both partners can negatively affect the health of the relationship. Exercise also decreases stress and improves mood, which can reduce the likelihood of getting into unnecessary fights.

In addition, exercise provides an opportunity for couples to have shared experiences. It turns out hitting the gym, tennis courts, pool, or practing yoga together can help your marriage last longer. According to a study published by the Australian government’s Institute of Family Studies, couples married the longest held up their shared experiences and memories as a chief factor in their relationships.

More generally, research shows that people who exercise as part of a group have better outcomes than people who go it alone. Working out in a groupor with a partnerfosters accountability and increases motivation.

Some IHRSA clubs are getting into the Valentine’s Day spirit. Fitness Formula Clubs, based in Chicago, is offering free "My Sweaty Valentine" Zumba classes at the Navy Pier, and Commonwealth Sportsclub in Boston is running a Buddy Week, encouraging members to bring a friendor valentineto a group class with them this week. Read about more clubs getting into the Valentine's spirit over on the blog


IHRSA Discusses Role of Physical Activity in the Future of Health Reform at OECD Meeting

Kilian Fisher, IHRSA International Public Policy Advisor with Catherine Carty, Manager, UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Fitness, Sport & Recreation, PE met with Dermot Nolan, Irish Ambassador to the OECD & UNESCO to discuss how IHRSA, UNESCO Chairs, and the fitness industry contribute to the future of good health.In mid-January, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) hosted a meeting and high-level policy forum on people-centred care, at its headquarters in Paris. Over the course of two days, IHRSA and health ministers from over 35 countries met to discuss the next generation of health reform and the ways in which reform could decrease the prevalence of chronic disease.

Prior to the meeting, IHRSA, as a member of the Business at OECD (BIAC) Health Committee, worked with the committee to develop the BIAC paper—Our Vision and Priorities for the Future of Health—and the OECD Health Ministerial Statement, which formed the basis for two-day discussion.

The BIAC paper identifies four recommendations: integrating care, embracing innovation, promoting balanced nutrition and active lifestyles, and investing in a healthier future. It also highlights how private-public partnerships could inform health policies and analyses.

Kilian Fisher, IHRSA’s International Public Policy Advisor, attended the meeting to ensure that physical activity and the health club industry were discussed and recognized as ways to effectively prevent and manage chronic disease.

“According to IHRSA’s 2016 Global Report, approximately 187,000 clubs serve more than 151 million health club members worldwide. Imagine if we, as an industry, were able to engage even more people just by educating them on the economic and physical benefits of daily exercise,” said IHRSA’s Kilian Fisher.

A report done by the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that “over the next 20 years, the cost of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) could more than double—to 30 trillion USD—with the cost of care threatening to push millions of people into poverty.

About Business at OECD (BIAC)

BIAC speaks for business at the OECD. Established in 1962, BIAC stands for policies that enable businesses of all sizes to contribute to growth, economic development, and prosperity. Through BIAC, national business and employers federations and their members provide expertise to the OECD and governments for competitive economies, better business, and better lives. IHRSA is a  member of BIAC and is represented on the Health Committee as well as the OECD Experts  Group on Prevention and IHRSA representative Kilian Fisher has regularly attended meetings with the OECD and presented to the OECD Health Committee, representing BIAC.

For more information, contact Kilian Fisher, International Public Policy Advisor