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Chicago Club Operators Step Up for Healthy Lifestyles

Last week, a group of concerned IHRSA member club operators from across Illinois gathered at the East Bank Club in Chicago to develop a game plan for a sales tax opposition campaign. Attendees included large and small clubs concerned about the harmful impact a sales tax would have on the health club industry.

Illinois clubs fought a sales tax battle this same time a year ago, and though it ended with a victory for the industry, the issue has not entirely gone away. An expansion of the sales tax to health club services was a topic of political volley during the most recent Chicago mayoral campaign, when now-mayor Rahm Emanuel reportedly wanted to widen the sales tax base to include more services, including, specifically, health club services. Legislators in Springfield are also facing a staggering reported $9 billion deficit, and will likely be looking for alternative sources of revenue for the state.

It was clear from the meeting last week that Illinois clubs are eager to get ahead of the game, and prevent any proposal—at the state or local level—from being introduced. Strategies discussed included demonstrating to lawmakers that health clubs provide vital wellness services that help reduce health care costs, and engaging other clubs not in the room. "We’re going to need a united voice to deliver the message to our elected officials," said Simon Meredith, Club Manager of the East Bank Club. "Clubs need to tell lawmakers to encourage healthy, active lifestyles, not tax them."

Tim Sullivan, IHRSA’s Senior Legislative Analyst, spoke at the meeting about the resources IHRSA offers to clubs for fighting sales tax battles. In addition to regular intelligence updates and facilitating conversations with lawmakers and other clubs, IHRSA provides advocacy toolkits that include posters, brochures, petitions and best practice tips, said Sullivan. 

To learn more about how to get involved on this issue, contact Tim Sullivan at or (800) 228-4772.

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