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 public policy (25)


Here’s How IHRSA Plans to Grow Your Business and Promote the Industry in 2017

Benjamin Franklin said it best: “To succeed jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”

As IHRSA closes the door on another successful legislative session in 2016, let’s reflect on the opportunities realized over the past year and look ahead to the future—which offers additional opportunities to promote physical activity and ensure the continued growth and success of the health club industry.

In 2016, one of IHRSA’s largest goals was to increase the physically active population by supporting policies that would grow and promote the industry.

Continue reading "Here’s How IHRSA Plans to Grow Your Business and Promote the Industry in 2017."

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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. 


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Equinox, Life Time Fitness Create Workspaces for Members

Equinox, Life Time Fitness Create Workspaces for Members
In response to consumer demand, an increasing amount of health clubs are providing workspaces for their members to to conduct business on-site, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Equinox in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood has a 1,150-square-foot lounge/workspace, which it may expand to 6,000 square feet if it continues to gain popularity. Colorado Athletic Club in Denver has a workspace with Wi-Fi, USB ports and outlets, and free coffee in the mornings. Life Time Fitness’ downtown Minneapolis facility has two conference rooms for members, and its Tampa, FL-gym has a business center. The 121-club chain is also installing high-top tables for those who want to do work in a newly opened New York City facility. 

IHRSA Board Chair Rasmus Ingerslev's Club Business International Photoshoot 

Well-timed Exercise May Boost Learning
Exercising may improve learning—if you time it right. A series of Dutch experiments recently found a link to improved recall in those who performed aerobic exercise four hours after a memorization task. “Newly-learned information turns into long-term knowledge through a process of stabilization and integration of memories, the study team writes in Current Biology,” according to Reuters. “This requires certain brain chemicals that are also released during physical exercise, including dopamine, noradrenaline (norepinephrine) and a growth factor called BDNF, they explain.” 

New Jersey Trial Judge Denies Class Action Suit Targeting Health Clubs
This spring, a New Jersey judge, in a ruling favorable to the health club industry, denied certifying a class action filed on behalf of 18,000 health club members claiming that a group of fitness centers was not following state law. In Mellet v. Aquasid, Judge Anthony Pugliese, from the bench of a state Superior Court based in Camden, blocked a consumer class action lawsuit from advancing, representing a victory for the health club industry. The ruling made two significant distinctions between gym membership and other types of consumer goods and services. Read out full coverage of the class action suit ruling.


New Jersey Trial Judge Denies Class Action Suit Targeting Health Clubs

This spring, a New Jersey judge, in a ruling favorable to the health club industry, denied certifying a class action filed on behalf of 18,000 health club members claiming that a group of fitness centers was not following state law.

In Mellet v. Aquasid, Judge Anthony Pugliese, from the bench of a state Superior Court based in Camden, blocked a consumer class action lawsuit from advancing, representing a victory for the health club industry. The ruling made two significant distinctions between gym membership and other types of consumer goods and services.

Club Contracts Different from Other Consumer Agreements

First, Judge Pugliese rejected that the fitness center’s use of liability waivers is illegal under New Jersey’s Truth in Consumer Contract and Warranty Notice Act, meant to address unconscionable contract terms. He affirmed the permissibility of liability waivers for clubs, remarking that club contracts are different from other consumer agreements on the basis that “when you engage in rigorous physical activity—like is encouraged in a health club [and] is the entire purpose of a health club—there are chances that you may injure any range of muscles, tendons, bones, nerves, what-have-you.”

He cited a 2010 case, Stelluti v. Casapenn Enterprises, in which a health club’s waiver of liability was upheld and a patron’s negligence suit was dismissed. That case concerned an injury sustained on an indoor cycling bike.

Late Fees Don't Violate NJ Retail Installment Sales Act

Second, Judge Pugliese rejected that the fitness center’s use of late fees and similar charges violated the New Jersey Retail Installment Sales Act (RISA), which limits fees assessed to consumers. He stated that RISA is meant to apply to installment loans involving the sale of goods, such as a television.

The decision in Mellet v. Aquasid demonstrates that health club membership is distinct from other types of consumer goods and services, and so is not always subject to broad state consumer protection laws that apply to most industries. 

The case is now under appeal. If you have comments or questions, please send them to IHRSA’s public policy team at


Outmaneuvering Cancer Via Public Policy

The following is an excerpt from a post on The Hill's Congress Blog, written by Helen Durkin, executive vice president of public policy for IHRSA.  

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t tense up when they hear the word “cancer,” or have some other visceral response to it. It’s one of the few stand-alone words in the English language that can elicit remarkably powerful, prevailing emotions. 

Maybe that’s because cancer has affected most of us in one way or another. If we haven’t experienced cancer ourselves, chances are, someone we love and care about has. I lost my mother to cancer. 

Given the widespread physical, emotional, and financial suffering that cancer inflicts, you’d think we’d be more united as a society in doing everything possible to protect ourselves and loved ones against this seemingly ubiquitous disease. 

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about research. Although getting behind research into a cure is critically important to eradicating cancer once and for all. 

Even in President Obama’s State of the Union address, he talked about a new moonshot, raising our sights to become the country that finally cures cancer. 

But again, he was talking about research. 

I’m talking about prevention. 

More specifically, I’m talking about public policies, legislation, community planning, infrastructure, thought leadership, and the grassroots social changes needed to stop cancer before it strikes. 

Continue reading Helen Durkin’s post on The Hill’s Congress Blog


Look Ahead with IHRSA’s Legislative Opportunity Report

While there are some potential legislative threats that health clubs should be aware of, there are also many potential legislative opportunities that stand to benefit the health and fitness industry.   

IHRSA’s Public Policy team created The 2016 Legislative Opportunity Report to give you an overview of proposed legislation that may strengthen your business. 

The report outlines the following opportunities expected in the coming year: 

  • Financial Incentives for Physical Activity
  • Child and Adolescent Health and Physical Activity
  • Insurance Reimbursements for Physical Activity
  • Encouraging Healthy Workplaces and Communities 

This report is based on the legislative tracking, analyses, and historical knowledge of IHRSA’s Public Policy staff, as well as intelligence from IHRSA’s lobbyists in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

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Protect and Promote Your Health Club with IHRSA's Advocacy Toolkit

IHRSA’s new “Advocacy Toolkit: A Guide to Advocating for Your Business” provides invaluable resources for health club owners and operators who are looking to protect and promote the best interest of their business.

The toolkit serves to: 

  • Educate you on the issues that matter most to your business.
  • Encourage active involvement in the legislative process.
  • Help you become a more confident advocate for your business and your community.

And after reading and reviewing the contents of this toolkit, you should be able to: 

  • Establish yourself as a knowledgeable advocate on the problems that impact the health club industry.
  • Effectively communicate your message to legislators and stakeholders using a variety of different methods.
  • Work to encourage others in your club and community to advocate on the issues that are important to their prosperity, health, and well-being. 

Ultimately, this toolkit is a resource that can help you promote laws that are most favorable to your business—by neutralizing legislative threats or advancing policies that grow the industry.

“I know that the day-to-day demands of running your club don’t leave much time to think about bill hearings or state budget negotiations,” says Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO. “But they do matter to your business and, with a sound strategy and some effort, you can make a difference that helps grow not only the industry we love, but also your business.” 

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Keep Aware with IHRSA’s Legislative Threat Report

IHRSA’s Public Policy team is constantly on the lookout for legislation that may threaten U.S. health clubs.

To do this, the team reviews legislation that could hinder profitability or create burdensome regulations. Once identified, they work in your best interest to protect your club against proposals that would discourage healthy behaviors. 

"Legislative surprises can happen, but through our process of reviewing, anticipating, and monitoring, we do our best to make sure the surprises are rare and even then, we are prepared to address these challenges," says Executive Vice President of Public Policy Helen Durkin. 

In the coming year, we expect to see the following threats:  

  • Restrictions on membership contracts
  • Personal training regulations
  • Sales tax on memberships
  • Locker room privacy  

To brief you on these issues and more, we created The 2016 Legislative Threat Report. This new resource provides case studies of threats IHRSA has faced in the past and looks ahead to the issues that we anticipate to see during the 2016 legislative sessions.

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IHRSA Prevails: PHIT Is Introduced in U.S. Senate

“Recent headlines serve as a sharp reminder of why we must continue to call on Congress to make physical activity the easy choice for all Americans,” wrote IHRSA President and CEO Joe Moore in a blog published in November in HuffPost Healthy Living. 

He cited several studies, including one showing that Americans today need to work harder to keep weight off than their peers did 30 years ago, even if they follow the identical diet and exercise practices they did in the 1980s. 

“Yet only a fraction of all U.S. adults meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity—a meager 20%. And the 2015 report The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America revealed that more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese,” he said. “I urge all wellness advocates, business leaders, healthcare professionals, influencers, educators, and everyday citizens to continue to press Congress and the administration to pass legislation and create public policies that help bring regular physical activity back to America.” 

Recognizing what Americans are up against, the health club industry and others interested in the health and future of our nation have long been advocating for public policies and legislation that remove barriers to physically active lifestyles and even incentivize people to start moving again, Moore wrote. 

“This month, we made some progress. The Personal Health Investment Today Act (the PHIT Act) was introduced to the Senate.” 

The announcement prompted an outpouring of congratulations from industry leaders to IHRSA’s public policy department, which had forcefully lobbied on behalf of the legislation. 

“Congratulations to ... your team. Nice work!” wrote Gale Landers, the founder and CEO of the Fitness Formula Clubs. 

“Very exciting! Congratulations on this milestone!” said Mark E. Harrington, Jr., the vice president of the Healthworks Fitness Centers. 

The PHIT Act (S.2218) supports individuals and families in their efforts to become more physically active, as it allows them to pay for youth sports league fees, fitness equipment, exercise DVDs, and health club memberships with money from pretax accounts, like health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). 

“The bipartisan PHIT Act acknowledges the preventive nature of physical activity. And its introduction signifies that members of Congress are recognizing that, as a nation, we must change the way we live if America is to have a strong future,” Moore wrote. “I urge all wellness advocates, business leaders, healthcare professionals, influencers, educators, and everyday citizens to continue to press Congress and the administration to pass legislation and create public policies that help bring regular physical activity back to America.” 

Read the full "IHRSA Prevails" article in the February issue of CBI.

To support IHRSA's efforts to enact industry friendly pro-physical activity policies, join the Industry Leadership Council.


Meet Team IHRSA: Meredith Poppler 

With the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show less than two months away, we’re launching the “Meet Team IHRSA” series to highlight some off the staff members you’ll see in Orlando, March 21-24. We hope this will help you to get to know our team a little better.   

Meredith Poppler
Communications and Leadership Engagement


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

I am all about the “Grow, Promote, Protect” part of IHRSA’s mission. I work to raise awareness of and funding for important advocacy issues that have the potential to either make or break the industry. And as IHRSA’s media and PR contact, I spend most of my work day communicating the importance of physical activity and how great health clubs are through reporters, bloggers, health columnists, social media, etc. 

The best part of my job… Can I pick two? I proudly serve on the Board of Directors of the Tennis Industry Association, representing the health and sports club industry. And there are some amazing perks (like front row seats at major tennis tournaments) that come with that assignment. But overall, I really like to write (blog posts, articles, news releases, media reports, web copy, responses to this questionnaire, even solicitations asking people to join the ILC) which I get to do every day.  

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

Short story: I was a gym rat when I started here, so it was the perfect fit to call club owners, ask them about their business, explain why they should be IHRSA members, etc. 

Long story: There was a teeny tiny little ad in the Boston Globe for an international racquet sports business that was looking for salespeople. I wasn’t at all into racquet sports back then, but “international” and “sales” piqued my interest. Waiting in the reception area for my interview, I read CBI magazine, saw the other people working at IHRSA, and thought, this looks like the right place for me. 

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

I was the first person at IHRSA to move file cabinets and shelves around to make a standing desk, so first, I really work to keep sitting to a minimum. Second, a couple years ago, Public Policy EVP Helen Durkin convinced me to get a Fitbit, which helped me realize how little movement I was getting on a typical work day. So now, (at least in good weather), I get my at least 10,000 steps. 

For more serious exercise, I do one very intense group training workout once a week. And, I picked up tennis about 15 years ago, and now play fairly competitive women’s doubles and mixed doubles two-to-three times a week. And, for 2016 my husband and I have a New Year’s resolution to begin practicing yoga. 

What is your favorite thing about the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show? 

This will be my 23rd IHRSA Convention, so I’ve got a lot of people to catch up with. My face always hurts from smiling and laughing too much, even though I don’t usually have much time to chat. And, of course, I’ve had the pleasure of learning from some of the most amazing keynote speakers over the past 20-plus years. 

Where can IHRSA 2016 attendees find you at the convention in Orlando, March 21-24? 

I work with local media to come in and film segments on the Trade Show floor during Trade Show and early morning workout hours. But most of the time, I’ll be in or around The Industry Leadership Club, Room S230C, where we have a series of special events scheduled for Industry Leaders and ILC Members

Convention attendees come from more than 80 countries. Can they speak to you in any other language? 

Je parle un peu de française. And I’m great (I think) at “Twitter”, does that count? 

What do you do for fun in your spare time? 

As mentioned, I’m a big tennis fan, both to play and to watch. And we have an idyllic (oldest continually working farm in the Boston area) organic farm in my neighborhood with walking trails, chickens, goats, lambs, ducks, flowers, a farm stand, barn dances, etc. If it’s not snowing or raining, you’ll often find me at the farm or on one of the walking trails. 

Share a random fact about yourself. 

I have two awesome, brilliant, handsome step-sons, one of whom is getting married in May to the most wonderful young lady, so I am soon to be a first-time mother-in-law.