Download IHRSA 2015 Brochure


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

Search by Topic:


Entries in PHIT (27)


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.


Healthcare Reform, Tax Reform, Or Another Kind of Reform? Which One Can Help Pass PHIT?

Unfortunately, the answer is not simple.

To get a better understanding of the current political climate in Washington, we spoke with IHRSA’s federal lobbyist, Jay Sweeney, to get his expert opinion on the changes that have been happening and what they mean for health clubs and their members.

“I have a background in health and healthier lifestyles since three of my family members are physicians. Weas a familyhave always been committed to living healthy and being active. So that’s really how I got associated with the industry, and I’ve been doing that ever since,” said Sweeney who has been working on behalf of IHRSA and health clubs for more than a decade.

We are grateful to have his guidance to help us sort through the unanswered questions surrounding reform efforts on Capitol Hill and how choices that are being made ultimately impact our industry.

To Reform or Not to Reform…

Last weekto the surprise of manythe Senate voted to reject the latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), effectively nullifying the healthcare reform debate until after Congress returns from its summer recess. However, this does not mean that efforts to pass federal bills incentivizing physical activity—like PHIT and WHIP—will stall.

“Now that the bigger healthcare reform bill has stalled, it’s time for members of Congress to move on to something like a PHIT/WHIP package since PHIT enjoys bipartisan support, unlike many other options that were discussed in the broader context of healthcare reform,” said Sweeney. “PHIT is a tax bill, and there could be opportunities to move this piece of legislation as part of this type of reform.”

For example, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is set to expire at the end of September, and Congress must act on this if they wish for the program to continue. This program does include various tax provisions, so a bill like PHIT and/or WHIP could certainly be moved as part of this package if the legislature agrees to do so.

PHIT vs. WHIP and Why Timing Is Everything

There has been a lot of recent discussion surrounding the reasoning behind the industry’s focus on PHIT versus WHIP and why that is. Really the answer is simple: because timing is everything.

Because the hope was to attach PHIT to a larger healthcare reform package, it made sense to focus on PHIT while the discussions of healthcare reform were happening.

How Can Clubs Get Involved?

Timing really is everything, and right now the timing is right for clubs to take action to get these pieces of legislation passed.

Currently, PHIT has roughly 70 bipartisan supporters in the House and the Senate, and the IHRSA team with its members are determined to increase the number co-sponsors who sign on in the coming months.

“I wish I had the magic number that I could use to say ‘if we get this amount of sponsors then the bill will pass,’ but that is not the case,” said Sweeney. “While it’s not productive to focus on a specific number, a greater number simply indicates the amount of support behind a particular concept or idea. The number of co-sponsors is important simply because the more we can get, the better.”

Therefore, it’s crucial that club operators reach out to their representatives while they are home in their districts to voice their support for PHIT. They should ask their member of Congress to sign on as a co-sponsor upon their return to Washington, D.C., in the fall.

“We are living in very different times now, this Congress is operating in a way that is very different...and we need to continue to be persistent. What we’re engaged in is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We need to continue with outreach and keep pushing to get this bill across the finish line despite any frustrations that may arise that we cannot control,” said Sweeney.


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.


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.


#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!


IHRSA Among Industry Voices for #PHITDay17

Last week, IHRSA participated in #PHITDay17 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Organized and hosted by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the event brought together SFIA members, as well as members of the PHIT Coalition to generate support for the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act and urge Congress to pass the industry’s top legislative priority. Representing IHRSA and health clubs across the country were IHRSA President and CEO, Joe Moore, and IHRSA's federal lobbyist, Jay Sweeney and Tom Scanlon.

#PHITDay17 gave participants the opportunity to discuss the importance of physical activity within the larger context of preventive healthcare and show lawmakers how increased access to affordable, active lifestyles can positively influence the physical and fiscal health of the entire nation. Throughout the course of the day, Sweeney and other industry representatives met with more than 100 lawmakers in the House and Senate, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Senate Republican Conference Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), to speak on behalf of the legislation.

In addition, several professional athletesincluding former infielder Steve Garvey, Olympic track and field star Carl Lewis, and former NFL players Herschel Walker and Ken Harveyalso attended to lobby key members of Congress to sign on as sponsors of PHIT.

The day’s event helped further emphasize that the timing is right to get PHIT passed during the 115th Congress, as there are several opportunities for its inclusion within a larger healthcare reform package or tax reform plan.

But, just because there are increased opportunities for PHIT’s passage, does not mean that it will pass. At least not without the combined support of the entire industry.

Take targeted action by: 

And, if you’d like more information on PHIT and all the ways it would benefit the industry, please visit


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. There's just one catch...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.


Get PHIT—Your Business and Your Members Will Thank You

When you think about your business, think about some of the biggest issues that you face every day. Chances are, most of the questions you ask yourself day-in and day-out have to do with meeting member needs and showcasing how valuable your club is to the people it serves.  

With that said, picture what would happen if your members could save 20-30 percent on their health club membership or personal training services? How would that affect your business and your members?

These types of annual savings could encourage more prospects to become members, help retain current members, and allow more members to take advantage of training services or sports-training programs. Sounds good, right?

Passing the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act would help accomplish all of the above, but we need your help to spread the message about the importance of PHIT’s provisions.

Whether you have heard of PHIT or not, it’s time to get acquainted or reacquainted with the reasons why passing this bill would be beneficial for the health of your business and your members. Here’s a short summary of everything you need to know:

What is PHIT?

PHIT is a piece of federal legislation that, if passed, would make physical activity expenses more affordable by allowing Americans to use pre-tax accounts, like health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to pay for fitness expenses—like exercise equipment, youth sports league fees, and health club memberships.

Who would benefit from PHIT’s passage?


  • Your members would save 20-30 percent on their annual fitness expenses—including health club memberships, which means…

  • ...there is an increased opportunity for you to grow your membership through affordable fitness opportunities, and more generally…

  • ...if physical activity was made more accessible and cost-effective, more non-exercisers might be more inclined to participate in physical activity.

When will it be enacted?

This answer depends largely on Congress, lawmakers, and the actions you take to help advance the bill.

Why do my actions matter? Why should I care?

Simply put, if PHIT is passed, it is likely that your club would see an increase in profitability. Giving members and prospects access to a variety of fitness options at more affordable costs creates added opportunities for business success.

How can I help pass PHIT?

If you’d like to take action and be part of history by passing PHIT in the 115th Congress, please:

If you have more questions about PHIT or would like to speak with a member of the IHRSA public policy team, contact us at


2017 is Comin’ in Hot: Here’s Your Legislative Intelligence Briefing

2017 has arrived.

While you’ve been busy signing up ‘resolutioners’, taking care of current members, optimizing your group-X schedule, and selling training packages, you can rest assured that IHRSA has been just as busy surveying the legislative landscape and prepping for the year ahead. Here’s what you need to know about the most prominent issues and opportunities we expect to see this year.

1. Passing PHIT in the 115th Congress

2017 presents the perfect opportunity for individuals and communities to join the movement to “Get PHIT.”

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act would directly benefit your membership roster and revenues by allowing your members to save 20-30% on their fitness expenses—such fitness equipment, youth sports league fees, and health club memberships and services.

This year, there are a few unique circumstances that could serve as added momentum to propel support forand passage ofthe bill forward.

The first opportunity comes in the form of proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With the help of Congress, the Trump administration plans to repeal and replace the ACA, therefore creating more opportunities to expand the use of private health savings accounts (HSAs). On the flip side, an increased emphasis on tax reform creates the second opportunity to pass this legislation.

However, regardless of the political landscape, IHRSA needs help from you—club owners and operators—to actively communicate all the reasons why Congress should pass PHIT. We, as an industry, need you to educate your members about the importance of passing this legislation and encourage them to spread the word about the value that daily exercise provides for both the health of the American people and the stability of the economy. So download the Get PHIT Toolkit and begin rallying your members by explaining how they’ll benefit from PHIT’s passage.

2. Keeping a Watchful Eye on the New Overtime Regulations

On December 1, new FSLA overtime regulations were scheduled to go into effect. These regulations would have extended overtime eligibility to an additional 4.2 million workers, exponentially raising payroll costs to businesses, including health clubs.

Even though a November 22 ruling prevented the implementation of the new rules as a result of a preliminary injunction, the fight to prevent implementation of the rules is far from over. The preliminary injunction upholds the current overtime regulations, but does not constitute a final ruling.

The opportunity for Congressional review of the new rules is still in play for 2017. Right now, the federal government has appealed the preliminary injunction to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and this motion has been granted. Under this appeal, final opposing briefs will be due on January 31 with oral arguments to follow. Therefore, it is not anticipated that any changes in the regulations will be seen until February or later.

Regardless of the Congressional review, a decision will have to be made by the new administration on whether or not to continue with the appeal or let the injunction stand.

IHRSA will continue to provide you with additional updates as more information becomes available.

3. Monitoring State Legislation for Issues Impacting Health Clubs  

While federal legislation (like PHIT and Federal Overtime Law) may receive the most media attention, it is important to note that all politics is local. And while federal legislation usually moves at a glacial pace, legislation at the state level moves so quickly that it can often hit without warning. That is, unless you’re an IHRSA member, because our team acts as your early warning system.

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘do-nothing Congress,’ but recently the state of Colorado passed 63% of the bills proposed. And, in terms of the volume of bills introduced, New York (an average of 12,389 bills per session), Illinois (6,002) and Massachusetts (3,973) introduce the most. Because of this high volume of introduced bills, it can be difficult to stay on top of breaking legislative developments while keeping up with the daily responsibilities of running your business.

In 2017, the IHRSA team anticipates seeing and fighting against a number of issues at the state level which include but are not limited to sales tax proposals, locker room privacy & security issues, and consumer protection laws impacting health clubs.

To view a more detailed summary of the issues we predict will be seen in your state this year, look for IHRSA’s 2016 Advocacy Impact Report which will be released in the coming weeks. In the meantime, be sure to monitor the latest updates in your state, and if you have not already done so, sign up to receive IHRSA’s legislative alerts by emailing


ILC Update: The Gift of PHIT

Imagine this. You’ve been given a gift. What do you do next? Do you throw it away unopened? No.

Gifts are meant to be opened and used.

This gift won’t be too big or too small. It will take a little work on your part, but the return for your business will be significant—as well as good for the American people.This gift could reduce the cost of a club membership by 20 to 30% without any of that reduction coming out of your pocket. This tax-based incentive to be more physically active is a gift we call PHIT.

The election has made PHIT a front and center opportunity.

Come January, when the 115th Congress is sworn in and Donald Trump becomes President Trump, healthcare reform and tax reform move to the top of the agenda. This will create a two-tiered legislative opportunity for PHIT to be passed within  broader healthcare or tax reform legislation.

Just because it can pass, doesn’t mean it will pass.

This is where we need clubs to do a little work to reap the benefits of PHIT. Our lobbyist and coalition partners have been doing their jobs. The PHIT bill is supported by key leaders in the House and Senate. But as we know from past experience, when politicians negotiate behind closed doors over what is to be included in a bill, the voices of their friends, contributors and constituents need to be front and center in their minds. Otherwise we could find ourselves seeing a law passed without PHIT included.

The voices of the health club industry are powerful. It is time to use them.

You, your staff, and your members have a powerful voice. We know from past research that the members of your club are more likely to vote, make political contributions, and even write a letter to the editor than the average American. Your members of Congress will listen to them.

Just as importantly, we also know that many of your members are passionate advocates for physical activity. Yes they would like to use pre-tax dollars to pay for their club dues, but they also know how important it is for families to have the opportunity to use pre-tax dollars to pay for soccer leagues or Pop Warner fees that keep the kids in their community active.

Educting your staff and members about PHIT and, when the time is right, asking them to voice their support for PHIT to their members of Congress  will take us closer to making the 115th Congress the Congress to make history and pass PHIT.

Two Baby Steps to Get you Started.

  1.  Tell your staff you want to start educating your members about PHIT and when the time is right, you want to give your members the opportunity to voice their support for PHIT.
  2. Forward this email or just send the link to download “Get PHIT: Tools to Design an Awareness Campaign at Your Club” to a member of your staff. Perhaps someone who works in communictions, PR, marketing, social media or your right hand person. Ask THEM to download and read the Get PHIT Toolkit. Have your staff contact us. (Or just let us know their name.) We will be happy to work with them to develop plan of action

As always if you have any questions, suggestions or comments—just let me know.


Helen A. Durkin
EVP Public Policy - IHRSA
P.S. If you or your staff have a personal relationship with any members of Congress, would you let me know. Members of Congress do listen to constituents—but like any other human—a  well-timed message from a friend and/or supporter can carry a lot of weight.