The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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Entries in advocacy (6)


The Spreading Threat of Sales Taxes on Membership Dues

States looking to apply a sales tax to club memberships and charges like personal training is not a new phenomenon. There are some states that already apply their sales tax to memberships, such as Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Washington. What is concerning and bears watching is not only the number of states considering a sales tax on club memberships, but which states are now considering doing it.  

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That Terribly Important Thing You Don’t Even Know You Care About

Advocacy, public policy, government relations, public affairs, etcetera etcetera etcetera… A rose is a rose is a rose. No matter what you call IHRSA’s efforts to Grow, Promote and Protect clubs across the country, these efforts are rarely going to sound as exciting to most gym operators as newfangled equipment, retention rates, wearables, virtual fitness, yoga pants, even flooring options, and operating systems.

I know what you're thinking. I'm a gym owner, why do I need to care about public policy or advocacy? Spoiler alert—you already care about it, you just may not know it.

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See the Impact of IHRSA’s Industry Advocacy for Yourself

Grow. Promote. Protect. These three simple words best describe the impact that IHRSA’s advocacy efforts have had on the industry. This past year was added proof.

Growing the Physically Active Population 

Growing the industry (by getting more people physically active) is IHRSA’s overriding goal, and it drove much of our efforts in 2016. For instance, on the national front, we have been actively engaging with Congress, the Administration, and allied organizations in Washington, D.C., to promote physical activity so it is front-of-mind among law and policy makers as they address the challenges that face our country. IHRSA continues to see the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act—our industry's signature piece of legislation—as an important tool for growing the industry.

Continue reading "See the Impact of IHRSA’s Industry Advocacy for Yourself."

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Meet the IHRSA Advocate: Your New Guide to Health Club Industry Advocacy 

Keeping up with the latest industry advocacy information can be challenging. The legislative process can sometimes move quickly and bill revisions can be easily missed. That is why our public policy team created the IHRSA Advocate—to allow you to continue effectively managing your business without missing a beat. 

What’s “The IHRSA Advocate?” 

The IHRSA Advocate is a new bi-weekly advocacy e-newsletter that will help you recognize and understand the latest information on health club policies and trends, and summarize exactly how these initiatives impact your daily business operations. 

What Topics Will It Cover? 

Every other Tuesday, the IHRSA Advocate will bring subscribers current information on legislative advancements, legal updates, health policy information, recent industry meetings and events, and general advocacy news. 

Why Should I Read It? 

Because this is important information that will help you become more aware of the problems your business faces and will give you insight into how you can resolve these issues. And besides thatthis information will be compiled for you and placed in the palms of your hands.

Still interested in learning more? Don’t miss out. Sign up to receive your bi-weekly dose of industry advocacy updates directly to your inbox. Solution seekers welcome. 


Inaugural IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award Presented on Capitol Hill

On September 21, IHRSA launched its first annual IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award created to honor members of Congress that have led pro-physical activity legislation and initiatives. The award presentations were conducted as part of a Lobby Day hosted by the PHIT Coalition, a group championing the PHIT bill.

The PHIT Act

The Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT), would allow Americans to use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for health club memberships, fitness equipment, exercise videos and youth sports league fees. If passed, it would allow individuals to tap their pre-tax account up to $1,000 per year to cover these expenses—families would be granted up to $2,000.

Only half of adults get the physical activity they need to reduce and prevent chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By allowing the use of FSAs and HSAs to pay for fitness expenses, the PHIT bill aims to expand participation in physical activity. 

IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award

Presenting the first-ever IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award in Washington, D.C., IHRSA raised the visibility of efforts to use public policy to expand the number of physically active Americans. The award honors leaders with strong track records of introducing and supporting initiatives that promote fitness.

The IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award recipients:

Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), a longtime leader in the Congressional Fitness Caucus, has championed the PHIT bill and introduced important legislation supporting physical activity, including children’s physical education.

IHRSA board members present the IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award to Rep. Ron Kind

Congressman Bob Dold (R-IL), who cosponsors the PHIT bill, participated in the #WhyGetActive Health Policy Fair earlier this year, and co-chairs the Congressional Fitness Caucus.

Presenting the award to Rep. Bob Dold

IHRSA board members Missy Moss, Stephen Capezzone, and Allison Flatley presented the awards. They also participated in the Lobby Day, meeting with members of Congress to share their experiences in the health and fitness industry and asking for support of PHIT.

PHIT Coalition Lobby Day

Flatley reflected, “What a great day on Capitol Hill! Trying to push PHIT across the finish line.”

“Great partnerships on the Hill today—IHRSA, Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), American Council on Exercise, Nike, and more," said Moss. "As a team, we made great progress and impact on the Hill.”

The PHIT Coalition, a diverse group of fitness-aligned organizations, is chaired by IHRSA and SFIA.

The PHIT bill currently has 101 bipartisan sponsors, including 88 in the House and 13 in the Senate. For more information on PHIT, download our infographic on great reasons to pass the legislation.


IHRSA Submits Comments on Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program

On September 6, IHRSA formally submitted comments to the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) concerning the proposal that Medicare cover the cost of a preventative service incorporating physical activity and diet interventionthe Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP).

The MDPP stands to be the first ever preventative service model certified for expansion by the CMS Innovation Center.

Opportunities for Health Clubs in MDPP

With the proposal that Medicare will cover the cost of MDPP, health clubs are in an advantageous position to administer the program and become a vital component in the healthcare system.

The program consists of educational sessions on healthy habits for individuals at risk of diabetes, evidenced by blood test results (and covered by Medicare), beginning with an initial six-month period with a core curriculum. The curriculum incorporates the importance of physical activity in healthy living, in addition to nutrition and stress management. The primary goal of the program is weight loss and behavior change to prevent against diabetes—both goals achievable in a health club setting. 

To maximize the contribution that the health and fitness industry can make to the success of this major innovation in Medicare, IHRSA focused its comments on ways to position health clubs as settings for the MDPP and to facilitate club participation. 

Per participant, a health club offering MDPP would be reimbursed by Medicare, with some payments dependent on the participant’s percentage of achieved weight loss and attendance level. The provider would be reimbursed up to $450 per person in the first year, and up to $180 in the participant’s second year of the program.

Expanding the Program Nationally

IHRSA encouraged CMS to launch this important effort on a national basis, given that diabetes impacts Americans across the nation.

According to the CDC, 25% of Americans age 65 or older have Type 2 diabetes, and almost half have prediabetes. The CMS is considering an alternate approach of phasing in the program (such as by geographic location or by subpopulation).

Considering Coverage of Other Chronic Diseases

IHRSA stated in its comments to CMS that MDPP and its emphasis on healthier lifestyles and physical activity would also result in cost savings to Medicare if offered to persons at risk of developing other chronic diseases, such as hypertension or cardiovascular problems.

It is important to focus attention on the proven success of preventative service models and the urgency of combatting chronic disease. About one in two adults live with a chronic disease, straining the American workforce and economy, but many diseases can be prevented with participation in physical activity and other healthy habits.

What’s Next?

Now that the comment period has ended for the MDPP rule, it is expected that a formal rule will be published in November 2016 and that potential program providers can apply for CDC recognition in 2017. Then, in 2018, providers can begin to be reimbursed for the service.

When further news is available, IHRSA will continue to share information with clubs. If you have questions or comments, please email IHRSA’s public policy department at