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Legislative & Regulatory Issues

Below are some of the many legislative and regulatory issues that affect health club operations. IHRSA provides information and resources on each of the below, and when needed, advocates for the best interest of health clubs. 

AccessibilityFederal law (the ADA) requires companies to improve access and ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities. Health clubs must be in compliance in two areas: employment and public accommodation. The industry also works with UFIT to increase accessibility for all.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)IHRSA fights to ensure that AED mandates provide health club operators and staff with adequate liability protection for both use and non-use, and contain reasonable staffing and training requirements.  

Bonding: States require bonding to protect consumers from financial losses due to a club's closing or failure to open. However, bonds create a barrier to entry into the market and rarely protect the consumer as intended.

Membership Contract Rules and Restrictions: There are several ways in which consumer protection laws affect health club membership contracts, including: (1) limits on automatic renewal; (2) “cooling off” periods; and (3) price caps and membership contract restrictions.

Employment Law: Club operators need to be aware of employment laws regulations and legal responsibilities, such as overtime pay, illegal discrimination, or wrongful discharge.

Facility Licensure: Legislatures have proposed laws that would allow state or local governments to enact regulations, establish licensing requirements, and administer club inspections.

HarassmentHarassment in your club can affect member and employee retention, damage your club’s reputation, and create unnecessary legal complications, if not handled properly. IHRSA members are invited to download the Preventing Harassment Briefing Paper.

Kids in Your Club: Approximately 3.5 million children are injured each year while playing sports or participating in recreational activities. Club operators need to recognize the unique safety and legal issues that arise when working with children. Access the IHRSA briefing paper "Kids in Your Club".

Locker Room Privacy & Security: Camera phones, theft, children in opposite gender locker-rooms and transgender rights are all sensitive legal issues for club operators.

Personal Trainer Regulation: Lawmakers often propose bills that would require personal trainers to be licensed (as opposed to independently certified) by the state in which they practice, which would make personal training more expensive for both club operators and members, and, ultimately, result in fewer trainers and a loss of revenue for clubs.

Personal Trainer Accreditation: IHRSA recommends hiring personal trainers holding at least one current certification from a certifying organization/agency that has third-party accreditation of its certification procedures and protocols from an independent, experienced, and nationally recognized accrediting body.

Problem Members: There are ways to legally handle problem members.

Single Gender Health Clubs: IHRSA believes that single-gender facilities should be allowed to operate, as there is a legitimate gender-based privacy interest entitled to protection under the law.

Tax on Dues: Sales tax impositions raise costs for members and create a disincentive to health club membership and, therefore, harm club prosperity and community health.

Tax-Exempt Competition: IHRSA advocates for the equal tax-treatment of for-profit health clubs and their not-for-profit competition. 

Waiver Liability: Several state legislatures have proposed bills that would severely restrict health clubs’ use of liability waivers, increasing clubs’ risk of being sued.

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