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.



From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support

Search IHRSA Blog

Welcome to the IHRSA Blog

The Online Home of news.

Blog Home |  Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Entries in child and adolescent health (17)


3 Ways Your Gym Can Encourage Physical Activity in Schools

As the last beach days of summer 2017 are winding down, it's time to begin preparing for everything that comes along with the start of fall. For many parents, that means it’s time to make sure that their children are ready to go back to school for another successful year.

Continue reading "3 Ways Your Gym Can Encourage Physical Activity in Schools."

Click to read more ...


The Most Pressing Reason Why We Need to Help Our Kids Get Moving

The following was written by IHRSA's Executive Vice President of Public Policy Helen Durkin, JD, for PsychCentral.

A headline crossed my desktop recently. And it made me sad:

U.S. ranks near bottom among countries for youth fitness, study says

We’d ranked 47 out of 50.

It didn’t concern me that we’d be among the losers in a global field day. After all, the pressure to always win, rather than to have fun, is a key reason why most kids in the U.S. drop out of organized sports by the time they’re thirteen.

The news made me sad because, chances are, the lack of physical activity among our youth, and ultimately among these future adults, will adversely affect how they feel—about themselves and their lives.

I could easily lay out scores upon scores of research studies that prove time and again the benefits of exercise to good health. Regular physical activity helps prevent and/or better manage type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses. Exercise also has proven to be a cognitive power boost. Studies show that regular physical activity helps kids better focus and helps improve their academic performance. Moreover, there’s a growing body of evidence that shows that exercise may even help protect us against cognitive decline as we age.

But what made me really sad when I read that headline was the realization that our failure as a society to create a culture for our children that reveres physical activity as an indispensable part of everyday life hurts them.

Somewhere along the line, our society became too sedentary. We sit more at work. We sit more at school. We sit more in our cars. And we sit more at home, in front of our TVs, computers, video games, and smartphones.

Somewhere along the line, we “advanced” to the point that we’ve “high-teched” movement out of our lives; and as a result, too many kids no longer see running around outside as fun.

Frankly, we’ve fallen short. 

Continue reading "The Most Pressing Reason Why We Need to Help Our Kids Get Moving" on PsychCentral.


Create an Active Generation of Kids with IHRSA’s Latest E-book

September is Child Obesity Month, a time to raise awareness for child obesity in the U.S. and promote steps communities can take to prevent it. 

Physical activity is a key component of treating and preventing child obesity, and can improve obesity-related risk factors, such as blood pressure and waist circumference. Children who are active are less likely to be obese, and exercise can help obese kids lose weight and body fat, do better in school, and have more confidence and self esteem. 

Health clubs play an important role in providing access to active spaces for kids, and they do it in a variety of ways. Some clubs provide separate spaces for kids to be active, some offer sport-specific programming and training like swimming or tennis, and others offer after school programs. Additionally, some clubs work directly with schools to provide physical activity or fundraising. 

The September edition of “12 Months of Health Promotion” will help you offer successful programming for children and adolescents. The e-book includes tools to help you develop programs, ideas for activities that appeal to kids and teens, shareable articles on the benefits of physical activity for kids, and the importance of making it more accessible in school and society. 

This month’s resources include: 

  • 7 Programming Ideas for Kids and Teens
  • “Best Practice E-book: Active Kids in the School and Community”
  • Key Takeaways from “Programming 101: The ABC’s of Children’s Programming”
  • Relevant articles and blog posts to read and share 

New Call-to-action


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Australia’s Goodlife Health Clubs Bought by Quadrant Private Equity

Australia’s Goodlife Health Clubs Bought by Quadrant Private Equity
A new holding company called Fitness and Lifestyle Group Pty Ltd (“FLG”) (funded from Quadrant Entities) has entered a binding agreement to purchase the Goodlife business in Australia. Chris Hadley, QPE executive chaiman and chairman of FLG, said, “we are delighted to join the team at Goodlife, the business fits our investment strategy of bringing together a great brand, strong management team, and culture, with industry growth opportunities. We intend to invest significant capital to further grow the business.” The acquisition by Quadrant is an exciting opportunity for Goodlife and testament to the successful business strategy led by Goodlife Health Clubs CEO, Greg Oliver, which has seen incredibly strong trends in member growth and retention over the past 18 months. Read the full press release on Goodlife Health Clubs. 

IHRSA Prepares for the 17th Annual IHRSA / Fitness Brasil in São Paulo

We’re gearing up to head south to the 17th Annual IHRSA / Fitness Brasil, Latin America’s largest fitness industry conference and trade show, held in São Paulo, Brazil, September 1-3. Since Brazil has been struggling with an economic recession and political instability—all on top of the Summer Olympic Games—much of this year’s event will focus on change and transformation in the industry. The program is designed for all types and sizes of clubs—from established clubs to those that are just starting out in the industry. The program provides educational opportunities in a variety of interactive formats: traditional seminars, how-to sessions, and best practices. IHRSA is committed to investing in Latin America, which, with 55,809 health clubs, has more clubs than any other region worldwide, according to the IHRSA Global Report 2016. The Brazilian health club industry is the largest in Latin America by far, with 31,809 clubs and nearly 8 million total members. Learn everything you need to know about IHRSA / Fitness Brasil. 

McDonalds Removes Fitness Tracker Toy from Happy Meals
In recent years McDonald’s has been trying to improve its unhealthy image—especially when it comes to Happy Meals. The fast food giant has been offering more nutritious options, allowing kids to swap fries for fruit and soda for water. But the chain suffered a major setback last week when it had to recall the fitness trackers that were distributed with Happy Meals because it was causing wrist irritation, The Wall Street Journal reports. The toy tracker began appearing in Happy Meals in the U.S. and Canada on Aug. 9, and its removal from Happy Meals is voluntary, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said. “We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue. Our restaurants are now offering our youngest guests an alternative Happy Meal toy.”

Highlights from the Canfitpro World Fitness Expo

Earlier this month, IHRSA staff attended and exhibited at Canfitpro World Fitness Expo in Toronto, Canada—the largest fitness expo in Canada, attracting more than 16,000 fitness professionals, business owners, and consumers from all over the world. The Canadian Industry Forum—presented with the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC)—featured several topical discussions, including boutique fitness studios and the advance of technology. Read our full coverage of the Canfitpro World Fitness Expo.


Sprint Exercise Enhances Cognition in Adolescents 

Studies have shown that moderate exercise improves cognition in adolescents, but little was known about the effects of higher intensity, sprint-based exercise. A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports examined the acute impact of sprints on cognitive function as measured by a variety of tests. The study included 44 adolescents who performed 10 sets of 10 second sprints with 50 seconds of rest and underwent cognitive tests 30 minutes before, immediately after, and 45 minutes after the sprints.

The results showed that the impact of the sprints depended on which cognitive variable was tested. Executive function (which includes attention control, planning, and focus) improved following high-intensity sprints, but visual-spatial memory and motor speed were not impacted. The authors concluded that “data supports the inclusion of high-intensity sprint-based exercise for adolescents during the school day to enhance cognition.”

Cooper SB, Bandelow S, Nute ML, Dring KJ, Stannard RL, Morris JG, Nevill ME. Sprint-based exercise and cognitive function in adolescents. Prev Med Rep. 2016 Jun 7;4:155-61. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.06.004. eCollection 2016.

Tweet image     Download and share image


Food Smarts: How to Get Kids to Eat Right

The following was written by Stacy Achua for Get Active! Magazine 

It’s one of the most difficult challenges parents face: getting your children to eat healthy. While it seems impossible at times, there are a number of simple steps you can take to tilt the odds in favor of your kids getting the nutrition they need to be healthy and happy. 

One thing’s for sure: It matters. Research continues to support the importance of a healthy diet for small children and adolescents, even when it comes to mental health and cognitive abilities. 

The need for more effort for family nutrition is clear. Obesity rates have nearly tripled among youth over the past three decades. Today, about one in three children and teens in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese. 

Here are some steps to take to keep your family healthy and happy at the dining room table. 

Set the Right Example

This seems obvious, but you may surprise yourself with how much unhealthy food you may eat in front of your kids. Be mindful of your own habits, especially when the young ones are around. 

Replace Junk Food with Healthy Snacks 

Food companies are becoming much better at creating tasty finger foods that can replace those treats with heavy calories. While your kids may demand a specific favorite you may disapprove of, you can always augment their cravings with fruits or low-calorie replacements.

It’s OK to start with minor changes, especially if you have fussy eaters to deal with. Small reductions in fat and sugar add up. 

Make Breakfast Mandatory 

New research published in Public Health Nutrition found that kids who eat breakfast tend to get higher grades in school. Starting the day with breakfast is also linked to children eating better throughout the rest of the day. With 8–12% of school-age children skipping breakfast, and 20–30% of adolescents missing the first meal of the day, it’s clear that more parents need to strongly encourage children to eat in the morning. 

Read the full article in the Spring 2016 issue of Get Active! Magazine.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Blink Fitness Hides Mirrors, Reebok Launches #TrainerTribute

Blink Fitness Hides Mirrors to Promote Good Health over Looks
Blink Fitness recently launched its “Monday Without Mirrors” program, a month-long initiative in which key mirrors in clubs will be covered in order to challenge members to think about how exercise makes them feel and not just how it makes them look. The effort is in the same vein as the “Every Body Happy” campaign, which the Equinox-owned company launched earlier this year. "Fitness has never been just about looking a certain way for us," Todd Magazine, president of Blink Fitness, said in a release. "Through our 'Monday Without Mirrors' initiative, we're encouraging our members to take a stand with us—that exercise is good for our health. It's good for our minds. It builds confidence. It's not just about what you see in the mirror." For more on Blink Fitness, read Todd Magazine’s interview in Club Business International. 

Team IHRSA Plays in NEHRSA's 35th Annual Golf Tournament

Some IHRSA staffers participated in NEHRSA's 35th Annual Golf Tournament on Thursday, June 9 at the Shining Rock Golf Club in Northbridge, MA. Joe Colotti (top right) from Executive Health & Sports Center as well the NEHRSA Board, addressed the crowd during the event.  

Reebok’s #TrainerTribute Campaign Recognizes Fitness Instructors
Reebok’s new #TrainerTribute campaign “pays homage to the professional fitness instructors who see and cultivate the limitless potential of their students,” according to a press release by the fitness brand. “Reebok argues that their contributions to society are as valuable as those made by healthcare providers and educators; they motivate their clients to be healthy and teach people how to lead an active, productive lifestyle.” On June 9, the series kicked off with a film focusing on boxing and combat-style training. The campaign will continue throughout 2016, with more films featuring other fitness disciplines, such as CrossFit and Studio. For the campaign, Reebok has partnered with Handstand, an app that locates nearby personal fitness trainers. All instructors that sign up to Handstand will automatically become members of ReebokONE, the brand’s global network of fitness trainers. 

Kids Running Programs Are on the Rise
New running programs are aiming to get children involved in the sport with the hope of making physical activity a part of their daily lives, reports The New York Times. Organizers of Global Running Day encouraged around a million children to pledge to run in the Million Kid Run on June 1, and Girls on the Run, a national organization that sponsors running programs, works to get girls into the sport from third through eighth grade. “There is no hard and fast rule for when kids can start running, said Dr. Danelle Fisher, the chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA,” The Times reports. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teenagers should not be encouraged to run full marathons, and many races already restrict entry by age. Runners must be 12 years old to run one of the New York Road Runners’ half-marathons and 18 to run the New York City Marathon.”


Health Club Infant Swimming Program Boosts Revenue, Value

It’s quite a sight—something most people aren’t used to seeing. At the Hockessin Athletic Club (HAC), a 109,000-square-foot, family-oriented multipurpose club in Hockessin, DE, Aquatics Director Nadya Davis routinely places babies face down in the pool; parents watch from the deck with anticipation. Within seconds, each infant rolls onto its back to float and breathe, until Davis picks up the child, prompting cheers and smiles.

Unconventional as it may seem, the routine is part of the club’s carefully planned Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) Self-Rescue program, which provides survival swimming lessons for children ages six months to six years. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Harvey Barnett as a way to prevent pediatric drowning, ISR today has nearly 500 certified instructors in 16 countries who are focused on the organization’s defining mission: Not One More Child Drowns.

“We wanted to partner with ISR to further its objective, which ties in with our core value—that of community,” said Davis, who led the initiative to bring ISR to HAC. “We pride ourselves on raising awareness for various health, fitness, and charitable causes.”

As the first commercial health club—and IHRSA member—to have its staff trained to offer the ISR program, HAC has made a commitment to prevent drowning, the leading cause of accidental death for children under age four in the U.S.

Davis encouraged other IHRSA clubs to do the same. What better way, she said, is there for operators to demonstrate to their staff, their members, and their community that they deeply care about the health and well-being of others?

A Valuable Feeder Program

Since it began to offer ISR lessons four years ago, HAC has taught 250 children, even though the commitment to the program on the part of participants is intense. The youngsters attend 10-minute, one-on-one lessons five days a week for four to six weeks, at a cost of $21 per lesson. There’s also a one-time ISR national registration fee of $105 for an initial medical history review.

Upon completing the initial lessons, children can enroll in weekly maintenance lessons at HAC, and may also take an annual ISR refresher course to deal with changes in their cognitive and physical development.

HAC members and nonmembers are encouraged to take advantage of ISR, and some families travel for as long as two hours to attend the lessons. A number of local participating families have gone on to become members.

The successful program has become an integral part of the offerings of HAC’s extensive aquatics facility, which includes a 25-yard, four-lane indoor pool; a 25-yard, six-lane, heated outdoor pool (open year-round); a warm-water therapy pool; a zero-depth entry leisure pool; and a catch pool beneath a water slide.

“Children start ISR lessons in the six-months to three-year-old range, and then, typically, stay with their ISR instructor for maintenance lessons until they’re ready for stroke mechanics around age four or five,” Davis said. “The ISR program not only extends our revenue opportunity to younger children, but also feeds into our traditional private and group swim lessons.”

Continue reading "Health Club Infant Swimming Program Boosts Revenue, Value."

Click to read more ...


National Public Health Week: Recognizing Community Efforts to Improve Health

Every year, the first week of April marks National Public Health Week, a week to "recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation."

Health clubs play an important role in addressing some of these issues—namely physical inactivity and obesity. Clubs contribute to efforts to improve community health in a number of ways, from specific programs to community outreach to charitable donation. 

IHRSA has created several products in the past year to highlight clubs running successful programs addressing health issues and help other clubs implement their programs. These include:

Active Kids in the School & Community

Child obesity is a major health problem in the United States, where over 17% of children and adolescents are obese. Kids who are obese in childhood have a higher risk of remaining so in adulthood compared to their average-weight peers. 

The Active Kids in the School & Community e-book shares success stories from seven clubs running programs to get kids more active in their local community. 

Get the Active Kids in the School & Community e-book.

The Medical Wellness Toolkit

Children aren't the only ones suffering from obesity—in the U.S., over two-thirds of the population is overweight and one-third is obese. Obesity puts adults at a higher risk for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Physical inactivity is also an independent risk factor for those conditions, but only 20% of the population exercises at a health club.

Medical wellness programs can help clubs reach those people who normally may never set foot in a club, due to intimidation, lack of self-efficacy, or other barriers. 

The Medical Wellness Toolkit was created to help clubs design and implement medical wellness programs and better collaborate with the medical community. The toolkit also highlights several clubs running successful medical programs of their own.

Get the Medical Wellness Toolkit.


#WhyGetActive is a social media movement to reign in the physical inactivity crisis that feeds chronic diseases, drives healthcare spending, and escalates economic uncertainty in the United States and worldwide.

Spearheaded by IHRSA, #WhyGetActive is an inspirational movement that provides a worldwide platform for sharing the many compelling reasons for being physically active, and fosters a cultural shift toward wellness—wherein physically active lifestyles are encouraged, supported, and easier to sustain.

You can get involved in #WhyGetActive in several ways:

  1. Share why you choose to pursue an active lifestyle using the #WhyGetActive hashtag on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.
  2. Encourage your members to share their reasons #WhyGetActive on social media by promoting the hashtag at your club. 
  3. Use the hashtag to discuss healthy lifestyle topics or share news articles on the benefits of exercise.
  4. Sign up for the Health Benefits of Exercise Report and follow the IHRSA blog for more health and wellness updates. 

Learn more about #WhyGetActive.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: 24 Hour Fitness Supports Five TEAM USA Athletes 

24 Hour Fitness Partners with Five Team USA Athletes
24 Hour Fitness has announced its partnership with “Team 24 Hour Fitness,” five athletes expected to represent Team USA at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. “Our distinguished athletes come from diverse backgrounds. They are each compelling, inspiring and relatable,” Mark Smith, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, said in a release. “The athletes that make up Team 24 have embarked on the fitness journey of a lifetime and we look forward to sharing their stories with our members in the weeks ahead. It’s moments like this that reaffirm our commitment to helping people – everyday athletes and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls alike – reach their fitness goals.” The five athletes include a swimmer, triathlete, a middle distance runner, a Paralympic long jumper, and a Paralympic swimmer.

More Doctors Prescribing Exercise Over Medication
A growing number of physicians are prescribing exercise—not medication—to treat their patients’ chronic health problems, according to a report in The Boston Globe. “In one such program run by a health center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, primary care physicians, internists and psychologists prescribe access to a gym for $10 a month, including free child care, classes, and kids programs,” The Globe reports. “Providing affordable gym access for patients ensures compliance, said Gibbs Saunders of Healthworks Community Fitness, a nonprofit gym in Dorchester that has partnered with several health care providers to help low-income residents fill their exercise prescriptions.” The health center’s executives said low-cost access to a gym is important, since many of their patients’ income is low and 70% of those they treat suffer from chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.

Study: Fitness Report Cards Have Negative Effect on Children
Giving schoolchildren “fitness report cards” may actually cause overweight girls to gain more weight, according to a study of New York City public schools’ “Fitnessgrams.” Researchers analyzed 442,408 anonymized BMI records of New York City girls whose weight placed them just above and below the “overweight” cutoff for their age between 2007 and 2012. They found that “girls who were told they were overweight gained, on average, 0.17 pounds more than ‘healthy’ girls, and their BMI increased by 0.03 BMI more units, over the course of the following year,” Slate reports. “For girls who were told they had a ‘healthy’ weight one year and then told that they were ‘overweight’ the following year, the impact was even more pronounced—their BMI subsequently increased 0.07 BMI units more than girls whose weight remained ‘healthy.’”

High Body Fat—Not BMI—Linked with Higher Death Rate
High body fat—not BMI—is linked with a higher death rate, according to a study. CNN reports that the study’s researchers were able to look at participants’ total body directly because they selected individuals who had previously undergone X-ray testing to determine if they had decreased bone density. They found that the thinnest women with a BMI less than 22.5 (a group including underweight and normal weight women) had a 44% higher risk of dying during the seven-year follow-up period. They also found that women with more than 38.7% total body fat had 19% higher death rates. Among the thinnest men, those with a BMI less than about 23.8 had 45% higher death rates during a follow-up period of about 4.5 years, while men in the highest body fat group (more than 36% total body fat) were at 59% higher risk of dying during the study period. "Being underweight is a marker for illness in some individuals at the same time that being overweight and obese is not optimal for health,” the study’s lead author said.