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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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What’s the Latest on the New Federal Overtime Rules?

You might recall that last November, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the new federal overtime rules, which were scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016. This injunction did not constitute a final decision and we have been waiting to hear the latest on where the rules stand. Here’s a two-minute recap of what we know now.

In April, Alexander Acosta was confirmed as the U.S. Labor Secretary for the Trump administration. As the new head of the Labor Department, Acosta will play a key role in making a decision surrounding the new overtime rules.

On June 16, IHRSA, as a member of the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO) Management Committee, sent a letter to Secretary Acosta, congratulating him on his confirmation and touching upon prior concerns related to the Obama administration overtime rules—which increased the salary level from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year. Under current law, most employees must be paid time-and-one-half for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week; however, some employers are eligible to classify workers as exempt from overtime pay if the workers are white-collar employees with annualized salaries above a certain salary threshold.

IHRSA is extremely concerned about the overtime rule’s potential costs to health clubs and has been working as a member of the PPWO to find a solution that would lessen the impact of these regulations on businesses.

Last week, another step was taken toward reaching a final decision. The Department of Labor (DOL) sent a request for information (RFI) to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review. The DOL hopes to use this request to get more information on how to set an appropriate salary level that will determine whether an employee is exempt or nonexempt under the FLSA overtime rules. The RFI may also seek input on other aspects of overtime rules, including whether the salary level should be updated automatically.

The specifics of the RFI have not been published, and we will keep you updated once more information becomes available. The PPWO will be submitting a response to the RFI and willin timeencourage other PPWO members to sign onto the submission.

Also, on June 30, the DOL filed a legal brief asking a federal court to weigh in regarding whether the DOL is allowed to set a threshold salary level to begin withwithout addressing whether the specific salary level advocated by the Obama administration is permissible. Secretary Acosta has said the department may consider raising the salary threshold to close to $30,000 per year.  

We will continue to keep you updated as this issue progresses, but in the meantime please contact our team with any questions you may have.


June 20 Issue

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Find out why being in the know is better than being unaware of legislative issues that could impact your business.

Haaave You Met the Advocacy Team?

Let me be the first to introduce you.

Thinking Outside the Programming Box

Community outreach programs offer important resources to the community while helping your club in a number of ways. This new e-book will help you crush your outreach goals.

Wise Words From Your Advocacy Team

Our staff is regularly published in local and national media outlets and across social media. Here’s what we’ve been up to—on your behalf—lately.


Today's Lesson in #Fitness #Leadership w/ @_JasonReinhardt - Small Victories Equal Big Victories #mondaymotivation

— IHRSA Advocate (@IHRSA_Advocate) June 5, 2017

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Say Hello to Your IHRSA Advocacy Team

Grow. Protect. Promote. That's what we do as part of IHRSA's advocacy team. You may have met some of our team members like Helen Durkin and Meredith Poppler, but did you know there's five more of us working hard on behalf of the fitness industry?

I'd like to take a few minutes (less than five total) to introduce you to each one of us and explain how we are here to help you. Each video is less than 45 seconds. I encourage you to check out each one, and if you have any questions, please reach out to any one of us.

So, who am I? I'm Kaitlynn Anderson, IHRSA's digital advocacy content coordinator. Are you following the IHRSA Advocate accounts on Facebook or Twitter? Have you joined the IHRSA LinkedIn group? If not, you ABSOLUTELY should! That's where I share all the amazing things the advocacy team is working on, including important legislative updates.

Want to chat and get to know me more? You can contact me via email at, or on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Who is Suzanne Trainor? IHRSA keeps a close eye on legislation and policies that could have major (or minor) implications on your club or business. One of our secret weapons is our Government Relations Coordinator, Suzanne Trainor. You can also follow Suzanne on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Want to chat and get to know Suzanne more? You can contact her via email at

What about IHRSA's Health Promotion Manager, Alex Black? What does her position do? Short answer: a lot. Some additional fun facts about Alex are: she is a registered dietitian (R.D.), a CrossFit coach, and a nutrition blogger! You can also follow Alex on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Want to chat and get to know Alex more? You can contact her via email at

That brings us to Jeff Perkins. Have you met Jeff? He's IHRSA's assistant vice president of government relations. He's been working in government for years, and now he's working with us to help the fitness industry. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Want to chat and get to know Jeff more? You can contact him via email at

So, who is this Shannon Vogler that sends you the IHRSA Advocate newsletter (not signed up? Sign up here)? Her title is communications and public relations coordinator, but actually, she's our Renaissance woman. Want a fun fact about Shannon? She's training to run a marathon in November. I'm telling everyone, Shannon! I just think it's really cool and everyone should know. You can also follow Shannon on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Want to chat and get to know Shannon more? You can contact her via email at

If you haven't had a chance to meet Meredith Poppler yet, what are you waiting for? Don't be shy—just send her an email and introduce yourself! Meredith is IHRSA's vice president of communications & leadership engagement. She works closely with the Industry Leadership Council and has been in this industry for 20+ years. You can also follow Meredith on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Want to chat and get to know Meredith more? You can contact her via email at

Let's end with where it all beganwith Helen Durkin. Helen is IHRSA's executive vice president of public policy. She started at IHRSA in 1989 and developed the health club industry's first government relations and legal programs. You can also follow Helen on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Want to chat and get to know Helen more? You can contact her via email at


6 Articles From Industry Experts on Health Clubs and Healthy Lifestyles

Looking for information on the latest fitness, health club, and healthy lifestyle news and trends? What about information on all the work IHRSA is doing to promote health clubs as places where more people can get active and improve their health? Look no further. The IHRSA team consistently publishes articles, op-eds, and blog posts via major national and local news outlets to keep you up-to-date on everything you need to know about.

In case you missed it, here is a list linking to articles that the IHRSA team recently published:


4 Uncertain Fitness Industry Legislative Trends We’re Watching 

Something Wicked This Way Comes


“Really knowing is good. Not knowing, or refusing to know, is bad, or amoral, at least. You can't act if you don't know.”

Whether you are familiar with this Ray Bradbury quote or not, its words ring true across a number of industriesincluding the health club industry.

One of my first tasks when I started working at IHRSA was to read all 39 state consumer protection laws governing health club contracts, and create a summary of each state law.

Since then, I’ve been involvedwith the help of a lot of great IHRSA staffwith monitoring every bill introduced by any state legislature that would directly affect health clubs. So it was reasonable to think I had seen it all, but I hadn’t. Right now, I’m seeing some trends coming the industry’s way that I really don’t like, and I want to bring them to your attention.

Because, as Ray Bradbury says, “knowing is good” and we must be prepared in case something wicked this way comes:

  • New States in Play: We are seeing legislation that would impact the industry in states we have never worked in before—Nebraska, West Virginia, Montana, and Indiana. If you operate in a state where you thought, “I don’t have to worry about a law that will hurt my business,” think again.

  • Traveling Legislation: The rate that a legislative idea can travel from state-to-state has become exponentially faster. Legislators have always looked to other states to shape their own legislation, but it is now happening so fast. For example, a Wyoming bill copies a New Jersey automatic renewal bill word-for-word. It is no longer safe to assume that what happens in one state stays in that state.

  • Surprising Taxes: During the recession years, I warned that if you operate in a state that does not tax membership dues, assume they are going to try to. Most states were so poor they were willing to tax anything that wouldn’t put up a fight. As the economy got better, and the research on the importance of exercise became stronger, I thought the battle would die down. The problem now is that many states have a broken revenue system that has to be fixed. The sales tax battles in West Virginia and Pennsylvania are good examples of this problem potentially impacting clubs.

  • Other Industries’ Battles: The growing likelihood that consumer protection action in other industries is going to hurt your business. For example, we are seeing legislation from California that would limit your ability to offer trial memberships. Not targeted at our industry but if passed, it would change the way some clubs operate.

Now that you know the wicked that could be coming your way, here’s how you can act:

  • Do you know you state legislators? Or more importantly, do your state legislators know the good work you are doing at your club? If they don’t, resolve right now to change that. We can help you figure out the best steps to change that but you need to decide to do it.

  • Read your legislative alerts and take action when asked. Technology is making it easier and easier to get your voiceand when needed, your members’ voicesheard. Together we are a very powerful industry.

  • Keep your eyes and ears open. Get in touch with IHRSA if you have on-the-ground information or political connections we might not know about.

  • Your donation to the ILC has never been more important. Every dollar that you donate is used to hire a lobbyist or track laws to protect your business from harm or look for opportunities to grow your business. With more states taking more and more action against health clubs, the need to hire lobbyists to cover additional states is growing significantly. As IHRSA Public Policy Committee Chair Jim Zupanic likes to say “If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu.” (If you’ve not pledged for this year, please contact Meredith Poppler ( If you already have, there’s no time like the present to invite your peers to join the ILC.) 

In short, don’t be complacent. Because IHRSA isn’t.

IHRSA's public policy team has a great track record of stopping legislation that can harm your club135 wins to 4 losses. But, don’t assume that because we almost always win, we will continue to almost always win. Don’t take it for granted. Get involved today.


June 6 Issue

To the Many, Strong Cancer Survivors Out There...

...and those of you who are helping these courageous individuals...keep fighting. Here’s how one woman’s battle with cancer changed the way we look at treating this disease.

Update From the Hill: Investing in Physical Activity

IHRSA was on Capitol Hill last month discussing public and private strategies for investing in physical activity.

We’re Live With Jeff and Suzanne in Three, Two, One...

We’re trying a new approach to how we update you on the latest legislative happenings in your state.’s a sneak peak.

Now WHIP It, Into Shape, Shape It Up

Now that the House is starting discussions on tax reform, we are expanding our Federal push to include WHIP—which could have an even greater impact on our industry than PHIT.

Planet Fitness Wins Locker Room Lawsuit

Details here.

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Introducing Policy Live Updates on Facebook

Let’s face it. We all receive—but don’t necessarily read—dozens of emails every day. IHRSA’s advocacy team currently sends you legislative alerts via email when a bill impacting the industry pops up in your state. In May, we had fun doing a Facebook Live state legislative update to recap lobbying meetings IHRSA staff had at the Massachusetts State House, and we’re looking forward to doing these live legislative updates more regularly.

It’s critical that you are aware of what your lawmakers are up to and how the bills they write could impact your business and the fitness community as a whole.

In case you missed it, here's the May 15 state legislative update at the Massachusetts State House:

To catch the June 14 show, follow the IHRSA Advocate on Facebook, and to catch up on legislative alerts you may have missed this year, visit your state's advocacy page.


IHRSA Attends NCPAA Congressional Briefing to Get the World Active

The recap below is brought to you by Jay Sweeney, IHRSA’s Washington D.C. lobbyist, who is actively working on Capitol Hill to get Congressional support for PHIT and WHIP.

On May 18, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA), of which IHRSA is a founding member, sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill highlighting the need to invest in physical activity. The briefing featured several well-known fitness advocates, including Laurie Whitsel, of the American Heart Association, Ruth Petersen of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), retired Colonel David Osborne of the U.S. Army, and Jack Groppel and Chris Jordan, both from the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Human Performance Institute.

The primary “call to action” was to stress the importance of maintaining appropriate levels of funding to support the CDC’s physical activity promotion agenda. PHIT, the Personal Health Investment Today Act (S. 482; H.R. 1276), also featured prominently. PHIT would allow individuals and their families to pay for physical activity expenses with pre-tax dollars from their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). We urged our members of Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible.

Attendees of a congressional information session on physical fitness work out on resistance bands in a short exercise demonstration on May 18. (Laura Kelly/The Washington Times)Throughout the briefing, each of the panel participants expressed concerns about the fact that Americans are not engaging in enough physical activity, costing the country roughly $117 billion in annual healthcare expenditures. Col. Osborne warned that inactivity is also having a negative impact on national security, noting that approximately 71 percent of young people in the United States would not be able to join the military due to problems with obesity, drug abuse, or educational deficits.

To address the mounting problem of inactivity, Dr. Johnson of the CDC called on the U.S. government and the private sector to work together to create public and private sector partnerships to promote exercise, arguing that investments in physical activity make sense for all of America, with benefits for children, adults, and seniors. She further stressed that physical activity is “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug” in this country and urged public officials to take additional steps to promote exercise in their communities.

J&J’s Chris Jordan closed the briefing with a short “at-your-desk” workout routine, illustrating how easy it can be for anyone to add more physical activity into their daily routines. Fitness bands in hand, the audience stretched, pulled, and got their hearts pumping, leaving congressional staffers and all in attendance with much to think about regarding the importance of exercise and the necessary investments our government should be making in physical activity and healthy lifestyles.


May 23 Issue

Keeping Kids in Your Club Safe

With the school session coming to an end, and summer soon upon us, we thought a refresher on what you can do to ensure kids enjoy a safe, effective workout at your club would be helpful.

Partnerships: The Path to Growing Exercise Participation

IHRSA’s Amy Bantham represented IHRSA at two meetings in Washington, D.C., deepening industry partnerships to help get more people physically active.

Results from the #PassPHIT Social Media Campaign Are in, and 'They're Spectacular'

Thank you to all of you who signed up to be part our social campaign to raise awareness about PHIT. We surpassed our goal by 173% and were able to reach an estimated 872,379 accounts. This campaign was a ‘FIRST,’ and we can’t thank you enough for getting involved. If you’d like to do more, please write to your representative and tell them to support PHIT!  

Unstoppable Women in Fitness

In every industry, there are women that break boundaries, bring innovative ideas to the table, and shape the next generation of leaders. In honor of National Women’s Health Week, we are honored to highlight Julie Main, Pat Laus, Lynne Brick, and Anastasia Yusina, four notable women whose accomplishments will inspire others in the industry for years to come.

Name That State

Which state's health club industry employs more than 94,000 people?

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Politicians Get Active Too: Why Our Representatives Pursue an Active Life

Politicians are people too. They walk their dogs. They run errands. They even go to their local gyms. For most people, health clubs are a safe, supportive place to enjoy exercise offerings. But in D.C., the gym can also be a good place to cross the aisle and de-stress at the same time.

IHRSA asked a few federal lawmakers, who have supported policies promoting physical activity, why they pursue an active lifestyle. Here are their responses:

Rep. Ron Kind (WI) gets active to enjoy sports with his son.


Rep. Robert Dold (IL) pursues an active lifestyle to maintain good health.


Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI) gets active so she can enjoy a long life with her grandchildren.