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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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October 10 Issue

IHRSA Board Members Meet with Speaker Paul Ryan

On September 26, Jim Worthington and Ray O'Connor attended a fundraising dinner and presented the case for PHIT to Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI). This was a great opportunity to reinforce the case for PHIT that Jim Zupancic, another Board Member, made to Speaker Ryan earlier in the month. 

Why Talk to Politicians Who May Know Nothing About How Your Business Works?

They know nothing about how your business works, and yet, they’re making big decisions that can affect it. Here’s how you can take action to change that.

Five Reasons Exercise Is Great for Women

In four minutes or less, IHRSA’s Alex Black, will give you five entertaining reasons why any woman’s “embrace of fitness is smart.”

Pennsylvania Recognizes Active Aging Week

Pennsylvania recently passed a resolution recognizing the benefits of exercise for older adults. If you are interested in getting a similar resolution introduced in your state, IHRSA can help.


 has 97 sponsors! Thank you to these sponsors for supporting physical activity and healthy lifestyles. 

— Oct 10, 2017


5 Actions You Can Take to Ignite Change in the Fitness Industry

Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” We tend to agree. That’s why we created the following two-minute video explaining how each of us can advocate for the fitness industry.


If you're looking for more information, check out our list of five actions you can take to endorse the benefits of physical activity and health club membership in future conversations with your legislators.

1. Compose a sincere email to build trust

Start by sending an email to your lawmaker, introducing yourself, and if applicable, explaining your civic involvement, or charitable work. Keep in mind that, even though you may be sharing these efforts via social media, your elected officials may not be aware of them. It is important to include examples of your work in your email because they tell your brand’s story, illustrate your commitment to members, and highlight your company’s values.

2. Request a meeting

If possible, it’s best to put a face to a name by getting acquainted in person. First, find out if any of your members are lawmakers. In the case that some are, take advantage of the opportunity to introduce yourself, and, engage in a conversation about pertinent issues. If none of your members are lawmakers, that’s okay too. Then you can do some research on local politicians and invite them to your facility for a brief visit, open house, a charity fundraiser, a blood drive, or another scheduled event.  You can also invite your legislator to have coffee or you can stop by when they’re holding office hours to meet with their constituents. When you meet, ask questions you’d ask anyone during a first introduction. For example, what’s their background? Why did they enter politics? Do they have a family? What do they do for fun? You want to understand where your legislators’ interests lie. If you’d like, you can also attend political fundraisers or volunteer for reelection campaigns. Any elected representative will be pleased to have your support, in any form.

3. Join with other clubs

As an IHRSA member, you have a built-in support network of fellow club operators who have experience with taking action on behalf of the industry. In particular, members of the Industry Leadership Council, fitness industry leaders who fund IHRSA’s public policy efforts, will gladly share their advice and experience.

4. Deliver the data

Clubs that have achieved legislative victories have highlighted how long they’ve been in business, the number of people they employ, the number of members they serve, the number of pounds lost in a weight loss challenge, or the amount they’ve raised for charity. Legislators enjoy responding to proven results like these.

5. Make your intentions clear

Each time you interact with a lawmaker, pose questions that facilitate deeper engagement. They can be policy-driven (“Will you oppose efforts to tax gym membership?”) or social (“What’s the best way to stay in touch with your office?”What social media account should I follow?”) Legislators are invested in seeing people become happier, healthier, and more productive. They want healthcare to improve, while costs decline. As a wellness expert, employer, citizen, and voter, your thoughts and opinions matter.


Pennsylvania Recognizes Active Aging Week

The earlier in life you start being active the better, but it’s never too late to start. As we discussed in last month’s Health Chat Live, in some cases, starting late doesn't put you behind at all. Pennsylvania lawmakers decided to formally recognize the benefits of exercise for older adults by enacting House Resolution 493, which designated September 24-28 as the state’s “Active Aging Week.” IHRSA submitted testimony to the sponsor in support of the bill.

Almost 15 years ago, the International Council on Active Aging started a campaign focused on promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing physical activity levels among older adults. The weeklong campaign became known as “Active Aging Week” and is annually celebrated during the last week in September.

“Active Aging Week” challenges the idea that physical ability declines with age. The observance serves as a reminder that older adults can live a full, happy, and healthy life simply by making physical activity a daily habit.

Let the statistics speak for themselves. Physical activity in middle and older age has been shown to improve blood glucose and prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancer, and delay cognitive decline. For older adults with an existing chronic disease, physical activity can even sharpen mental and physical functioning and add life to years.

Unfortunately, obesity and physical inactivity are still prominent issues in the United States. Less than half of U.S. adults are physically active (participating in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity three times a week), a number that decreases to about a third after age 65. As this inactivity epidemic continues to spread, more and more citizens are at an increased risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and some cancers.

In Pennsylvania alone, nearly a third of residents are considered obese based on body mass index. This has to change.

It’s important for other states to follow Pennsylvania’s lead and acknowledge the positive effects physical activity has on health and quality of life. If you are interested in getting a similar resolution introduced in your state, we can help. Contact IHRSA's public policy team.


September 26 Issue

Who Has the Power to Pass PHIT?

Now, more than ever, the House Ways and Means Committee is is steering the conversation on PHIT. Learn how you can help them see the importance in supporting increased opportunities to be physically active.

Preventing Harrassment in Your Club

The issue of harassment in your club can affect member and employee retention, damage your club’s reputation, and create unnecessary legal complications, if not handled properly. That’s why IHRSA has legal briefing papers that give you health club specific legal information you need to make informed business decisions. Here’s an exclusive first look at the Preventing Harassment Briefing Paper—the first in the employment law series.

Your Input Needed: ANSI Standards

The IHRSA Board is considering adding The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation to the approved list of accrediting organizations for personal training certification programs. Tell us what you think.


What's the most important thing  /  owners (AND members) can do? TAKE ACTION on . Be sure to also check out the full IHRSA 2017 PHIT video.

- @IHRSA_Advocate (Sept. 21, 2017)


How Members of House Ways and Means Committee Can Help Pass PHIT

The Committee on Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives, and as such, it oversees many domestic revenue issues. Because the outline of tax reform legislation is expected to be released soon, the influential decisions made by this committee are more important than ever before.

Why is that, you ask? The Committee on Ways and Means has a great deal of influence over whether or not the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Actlegislation that would allow Americans to use FSAs and HSAs to pay for fitness-related expensespasses.

Left to Right: Claire Kinsey, Cooper Institute, Kevin McHugh, Atlantic Club, Brian Zehetner, Planet Fitness, Rep. Erik Paulson, Erik Lindseth, Life Time Fitness, Linda Mitchell, Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), and Jim Worthington, NAC.

Eleven of the members of the Committee on Ways and Means have already voiced their support for physical activity by sponsoring PHIT. 

HW&M Members:

That leaves the question of what to do about the representatives who have not yet signed on in support of increasing access to healthy lifestyles. What can you do to convince them to support PHIT?

If you already have a relationship with your member of Congress, call them and ask them to sign on as a PHIT sponsor. Call him or her this week. If you are just developing a relationship with your member, that is okay too.

You can start by reaching out to your member of Congress and scheduling a time to meet with them. Members of Congress divide weeks between spending time in their home district and working in D.C., so scheduling a meeting will not be as challenging as you think. Take a look at this Congressional Schedule for opportunities to invite them to your club. When you speak with your representative, remember to emphasize why passing PHIT is beneficial for the health, happiness, and financial prosperity of every individual and family in their district.

Fortunately, your member of Congress also happens to be your connection to the Ways and Means Committee. If your congressman or congresswoman supports PHIT, kindly ask them to ask their friends on the Ways and Means Committee to sponsor PHIT.

As an industry, our ultimate goal is build a healthier and brighter future for all through physical activitygrowing the list of PHIT sponsors and seeing this legislation through to passage is a vital step toward that envisioned future.


September 12 Issues

What’s the Final Verdict on Overtime Rules?

The results are in. Here’s the final ruling on the DOL’s proposed overtime rule.

IHRSA Visits with House Ways and Means Committee Members

Last week, IHRSA and some of its ILC members met with representatives from the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss the state of the nation’s health and the many reasons to pass PHIT.

#WhyGetActive? Because Your Legislators Do Too

Believe it or not, our legislators are just like us. Some even share the same passion for healthy lifestyles and support policies that encourage more Americans to be physically active.

Pick Up. PHIT’s Calling.

Friendly reminder that the Public Policy Committee of the IHRSA Board is hosting an exclusive conference call on Thursday for ILC members (and staff) to discuss what has been happening on PHIT in D.C. If you’re an ILC member, RSVP for the call. If you’re not an ILC member, what are you waiting for?


How Health Clubs Are Helping Communities Affected by Hurricane Harvey 


The Final Decision on the DOL’s Overtime Rule Is...

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. On August 31, a federal judge in Texas struck down the federal overtime rule that would have made more than four million currently exempt employees eligible for overtime pay.

The proposed rule would have required that an employee must have a guaranteed salary of at least $47,476 to qualify as exempt, which is more than double the current minimum salary of $23,660. It was originally scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016, before an emergency motion for filed in October halted its implementation.

The recent ruling constitutes a final decision, meaning the existing overtime regulations, including the $23,660 exempt salary threshold (which were last updated in 2004) still apply.

It is possible for the DOL to challenge the final ruling, however this seems unlikely. Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, said he recognizes that the salary threshold needs to be increased (though not as high as the proposed rule would have required) and has sent a request for information on the 2016 overtime rule to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This request for information marks the first step in determining how to increase the existing exempt salary threshold, while ensuring that it remains reasonable.

If you’d like to submit a comment, the DOL is currently accepting feedback regarding changes to the salary threshold. And, if you have any other questions please contact our advocacy team.


See How Your Legislators Work(out) With You

Has scheduling a meeting with your member of Congress ever intimidated you? Have you ever viewed these people as policy wonks in suits that cannot relate to the issues you face as an average citizen?

If you nodded your head ‘yes’ in response to either of these questions, you’re not alone.

Here’s the truth. Believe it or not, your legislators work for you.

So picture your legislator as an average person—someone just like you. They wake up each morning, enjoy a good sweat session, eat a healthy breakfast, and then jet off to work refreshed and ready to start a new day. Sound familiar?

In fact, what if I told you that Senator Catherine Pugh is an avid runner like your cousin Joe (she even helped start the Baltimore marathon) and that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is an avid surfer. In order to stay mentally and physically alert, many legislators (like many of us) prioritize exercise and look for ways to ensure others are given equal opportunities to experience the positive benefits associated with a physically active lifestyle.

To demonstrate the truth in this statement, IHRSA is hosting the fourth annual #WhyGetActive Health Policy Fair on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, October 11. As in years past, this event engages members of Congress—and their staff—in national efforts and policies to promote physical activity and gets them to share their personal reasons for being active. The day-long event will also feature interactive exhibits from IHRSA members and IHRSA allies, free body composition screenings, massages, and a group workout.

“It [physical activity] is so, so important,” Rep. Ron Kind (WI) said in a speech during last year’s fair. “As we know, we’ve got to change the culture in America, we’ve got to make it easy for more people to be more active. Basically, we have to make the healthy choice the easy choice in people's lives—that means not only physical activity, but nutrition.”

So consider this. The next time you go to schedule a meeting with your legislator, perhaps an alternative option may be inviting them to tour your health club. Because it’s always okay to mix fitness and politics.


IHRSA Visits with House Ways and Means Committee Members

A delegation of IHRSA’s ILC members met with representatives from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, September 7, in the U.S. capitol.

The delegation, led by IHRSA Board Member Jim Worthington and Linda Mitchell of the Newtown Athletic Club, included representatives from ACAC, Anytime Fitness, The Atlantic Club, The Cooper Institute, IHRSA, Life Time Fitness, and Planet Fitness.

“It was a great experience to see industry leaders engage in meaningful conversations about the state of our nation’s health and the solutions our industry provides with powerful lawmakers, including Kevin Brady, (R-TX) Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee,” said Meredith Poppler, IHRSA’s vice president of communication and leadership engagement.

Members of Congress and their staff received a call to action to pass PHIT, federal legislation that would make physical activity more affordable and accessible.

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT S.482/H.R.1267) will expand the IRS definition of a medical expense to include expenses paid for exercise, such as gym membership and sports participation. Then, Americans will save 20-30% of their fitness expenses by tapping pre-tax accounts like Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts.

PHIT is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee, and so this opportunity for IHRSA member clubs and staff to call on elected officials to advance the legislation is critical to the #PassPHIT effort.

If you have not signed up for the September 14 ILC call, which will provide a recap of the meetings and lobbying, please do so.

Outside Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulson’s office, left to right, Brian Zehetner, Planet Fitness, Claire Kinsey, Cooper Institute, Kevin McHue, Atlantic Club, Jeff Perkins, IHRSA, Linda Mitchell, Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), Meredith Poppler, IHRSA, Jim Worthington, NAC, Erik Lindseth, Life Time Fitness.Minnesota native Brian Zehetner discussing PHIT with Rep Paulsen.Claire, Kevin, Brian, Paulsen, Erik, Jim and Linda.


August 29 Issue

If You Build It, They Will Come

Wise words that can be applied to much more than just fields of dreams. If you make a conscious effort to support and create programs that encourage PE in schools, we may begin to see an increase in youth physical activity levels.

PHIT Called. It Wants to Hear From You.

The Public Policy Committee of the IHRSA Board is hosting an exclusive conference call on September 14 for ILC members (and staff) to discuss what has been happening on PHIT in D.C. If you’re an ILC member, RSVP for the call. If you’re not an ILC member, what are you waiting for?

Focusing the State House on Wellness

We’re taking a closer look at policies and legislation that promote workplace wellness. One of our top priorities has been saving the Massachusetts wellness tax credit, which provides incentives for businesses to offer fitness and health resources to employees.


We all love the King in the North, but do you know the real John Snow