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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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May 9 Issue

Trending Now in State Legislation: Sales Tax

“I’m seeing this issue pop up in states that I’ve never seen it in before.” — Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s EVP of public policy, on the issue of state sales taxes affecting health club operations.

For Kids, a Healthy Future Begins With Exercise

Studies have shown that encouraging kids to be active from a young age can help them be successful now and in the future.

There's Still Time to Join Our Social Campaign

Help us reach our goal of 250 supporters. Add your voice to our social media campaign in support of PHIT.

President’s Challenge Accepted

Last week, we asked some IHRSA staff if they could still pass the President’s Fitness Challenge. Here’s how they did.

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ELI5: What Is a Thunderclap?

ELI5 is internet speak for “Explain Like I’m 5.” It’s a way for people to ask for the elevator pitch or everyman explanation of a topic. Any topic. From sports to politics to science to industry specific jargon. Given the ever-changing world of social media and the internet, we thought it’d be helpful to give you the ELI5 version of our Thunderclap.

So, let’s start with the basics. What is a Thunderclap? If you don’t know, don’t worry, neither did a majority of the IHRSA staff before we decided to do one. A Thunderclap is a social media tool that allows you to set up a campaign where people can support your cause via their online social profiles.

The support is not monetary; it’s social, meaning a potential supporter can add their voice to the campaign by authorizing their Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr profile. Adding your social profile to the campaign means you agree to have a one-time message sent from your account at the same time as everyone else who joins the campaign. It’s like a digital flash mob.

Our Thunderclap message focuses specifically on PHIT and how passing this legislation would:

In our case, the goal is to have 250 people add their social profiles to our PHIT campaign. Right now, we have over 200 supporters whose amplified voices will help our campaign reach more than 600,000 people. Your voice could be one of them. Please consider joining our campaign. To sign up, click the button to "Join our Thunderclap" below:


Once you sign up, a one-time message in support of PHIT will be sent from your designated social media account(s) on May 19 at 1 PM EST.

That’s it! Best of all, it takes less than one minute to get involved. Please consider adding your influence to our campaign. You won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to help #PassPHIT.


6 Reasons Physical Fitness Is Essential for Kids

Did you know that children who participate in physical education and fitness classes are more likely to develop a greater appreciation for good health later in life? From building good habits, to developing muscle coordination, to building the foundation for good self-perception, physical fitness is essential for kids and their future development. Here's why.

1. Active kids do better in school.

Studies show kids who are active score better on standardized tests and have better focus in class.

2. Free play helps kids become better problem solvers.

Sergio Pello, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, told NPR that play can facilitate changes in a child’s prefrontal cortexwhich helps regulate emotions, make plans, and solve problems.

3. Physical activity during early childhood leads to better growth and development.

Physical activities, like playing on a play structure or dancing, can help kids develop coordination and large muscle skills.

4. Active kids have more self-confidence and better self-esteem.

Research has consistently demonstrated that kids who are active have better self-confidence and self-esteem than their less active peers. According to Psychology Today, “a number of studies offer support to the claim that sports and other physical activities can contribute to the development of self-esteem.”

5. Exercise in childhood creates lifelong healthy habits.

Physical activity in youth can help kids build healthy habits for the future. One study showed that kids who ran or played sports during their early teenage years (ages 12-13) were more likely to be active at age 24.

6. Sports and exercise can help kids and teens stay out of trouble.

Increased levels of physical activity are associated with fewer mental health problems in adolescents and can help prevent teens from engaging in unhealthy behaviors. A program in Iceland recently replaced after school free time with programs focused on hobbies and sports and saw teen drinking drop 37 percent, cannabis use drop 10 percent, and cigarette smoking decline by 20 percent. Research has also shown that active kids are less likely to smoke.


April 25 Issue

Clap Once if You Can Hear Us...and Want to #PassPHIT

Yes, you heard right. With one ‘clap’ you can make a difference and help us generate more industry support for PHIT. Learn more about how you can get involved in our new social media campaign.

Kids Across the U.S. Just Got Healthier

Several states recently passed resolutions that dedicate this week to initiatives that encourage physical activity for children.

#WhyGetActive? Because It’s National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

As the warm weather approaches and those resolutions start to wane, you might be looking for new, creative ways to help your members get active. Every day in May, IHRSA will be providing contentspecifically for club operators—that you can use to promote healthy lifestyles.

Health Clubs Benefit Every State

IHRSA released newly updated state fact sheets to demonstrate the value that health clubs bring to their communities. These resources can be used in conversations with other industry professionals, meetings with legislators, and more.

 #PassPHIT, Feel Great

Haven’t you heard? Exercise is the best preventative health measure you can take. Help us #PassPHIT.

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U.S. States Place Increased Focus on Getting Kids Active

To encourage healthy lifestyles for kids and raise awareness about childhood obesity and physical inactivity, several states passed resolutions recognizing the week of April 24-28 as Action for Healthy Kids “Every Kid Healthy Week.”™ “Every Kid Healthy Week”™ dedicates this week to initiatives that promote physical activity for children.

Resolutions designating “Every Kid Healthy Week”™ were passed in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, New York, and Florida:

  • Pennsylvania lawmakers passed House Resolution 282 and Senate Resolution 88 last week.

  • In Texas, House Resolution 1506 was introduced on Thursday, April 20, and read by the sponsor on the floor Monday.

  • New York’s assembly adopted Assembly Resolution 297 on Monday, April 24.

  • Florida’s resolution, Senate Resolution 542, will also be read this week.

In New Jersey, the legislature has decided it will designate every fourth week in April “Every Kid Healthy Week”™.


April 11 Issue

#PassPHIT Makes an Impact

Since the beginning of April, #PassPHIT reached almost 400,000 Twitter accounts. PHIT is federal legislation that would allow Americans to pay for health club membership using pre-tax dollars. Help us go even further by tweeting #PassPHIT, and support the #PassPHIT Campaign at

Health Clubs Fight the Good Fight During NPHW

In case you missed it, last week was National Public Health Week in the U.S. Here’s a summary of what health clubs are doing to better the lives of people across the nation and around the globe and how your club can get involved by following the examples of others.

Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves

Your IHRSA Advocacy Team covers every aspect of Growing, Promoting and Protecting the industry.  This week, we’d like to introduce you to the talent behind those great IHRSA Health Promotion ResourcesAlex Black, IHRSA’s Health Promotion Manager.

Meeting with Your State Legislator? There’s a Fact Sheet For That

Have you ever wanted to meet with your legislator but didn’t due to lack of guidance or some talking points to get a conversation started? Don’t worry. Look no further. IHRSA has you covered.

We Appreciate You

The IHRSA staff was looking stylish last week. Big thanks to Missy Moss for making us look good. 

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IHRSA Releases Health Club Industry State Fact Sheets

Staying active by visiting your local health club plays a key role in establishing and maintaining good health. However, have you ever stopped to consider the economic and physical impact that health clubs have at the local, state, and national level?

If not, this is the reason why IHRSA created 51 state fact sheets—to demonstrate the tremendous impact health clubs have on the communities they serve. Every day health clubs better overall quality of life among community residents, offer employment opportunities, and generate additional tax revenue, while running a successful business. 

To learn more about your state's health club industry, please select your state from the list below and click on the link: 

  • Download the Alabama state fact sheet.
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

For more information on how to put these fact sheets to use, please contact IHRSA's public policy team at, or call 800-228-4772.


#PassPHIT Reaches More Than 380,000 Twitter Accounts in 8 Days

We are proud to announce that new representatives and senators have signed on to the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT Act): 34 bi-partisan supporters (17 Democrats and 17 Republicans).

Under PHIT consumers could save 20-30 percent on fitness expenses. To help spread the word about this legislation, we created the #PassPHIT campaign. We wanted to give you an update on how the campaign is doing.

In the last eight days, with only 100 tweets, #PassPHIT has reached more than 380,000 twitter accounts, according to TweetReach. That is amazing!


We want to give a big thank you to everyone who used #PassPHIT to help us spread the word! However, our efforts are not done yet. Please keep tweeting about #PassPHIT and to help us show Congress that this legislation is important to us all!

We've made it easier than ever to ask Congress to pass PHIT. Let your representative or senator know that you want to IHRSA make physical activity more affordable!


Meet Team IHRSA: Alex Black, Health Promotion Manager

Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are the IHRSA public policy team, and we hope that this series will help you get to know us a little better.

Alex Black

Health Promotion Manager 


Explain your role at IHRSA. What do you do? What is the best part of your job?

As IHRSA's health promotion manager, I work on resources, initiatives, and policies that promote physical activity, make exercise more accessible, and help clubs run successful wellness programs within their communities. I also work on communicating the health benefits of regular exercise via social media and the Health Benefits of Exercise Report, among others. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

As a kid, I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon (no idea where I got that idea from) and for most of middle and high school I wanted to be a lawyer. Now I get to work on improving people's health and public policy, so I suppose I got the best of both worlds without having to attend medical or law school.

What drew you to work for an organization that supports the health club industry?

I actually found IHRSA by accident. I was a clinical dietitian with a newly minted graduate degree in public health, looking for work that would allow me to help people improve their health and live better, longer lives. I had considered working as a dietitian at a health club during graduate school, but found IHRSA while job searching for work in "health promotion." When I interviewed, I couldn't help but be drawn to an organization with people so motivated and excited about the work they were doing. 

Tell us about your fitness routine. How do you stay active?

I usually alternate between CrossFit and running or circuit training during the week, and I try to find something new to dohiking, skiing, racquetball, golf, etc.with my husband on the weekends. My goal is to stay fit so I can partake in whatever active adventure finds me next. 

What do you do for fun in your spare time?

In addition to the above mentioned fitness hobbies, I like shopping, trying to cook healthy food that tastes good, socializing with friends, and on Saturdays in the fall, watching the Florida Gators play football.  

Share a random fact about yourself.

I used to be a pole vaulter at the University of Florida. My best jump was 12'8", or about the height of an African elephant (though I have never tried to jump over one).


Alzheimer's Disease, Aging, and Club Members

Without any reliable treatment available on the market, Alzheimer’s diseasea progressive decline in mental functioningcontinues to impact communities, particularly communities of older adults. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and one in 10 people age 65 and older have been diagnosed with the disease.

In the April 2017 issue of Club Business International, the article "Accommodating Members with Alzheimer’s Disease" will give you a look at real-life examples of strategies health clubs are using to serve members that are living with Alzheimer’s. Some of these examples include:

-Communicating effectively with caretakers

-Training staff to work with the population

-Partnering with local Alzheimer’s advocacy groups

For more on Alzheimer's, see IHRSA's e-book on Active Aging: Health Club Programming for All Ages.

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