Industry Watch

IHRSA Industry Watch provides insight on how policy issues affect not only the health club industry, but your bottom line. You'll learn about efforts to protect the industry, and promote health clubs as a solution to the inactivity epidemic. You’ll also find information on pressing industry issues, industry leaders and leadership opportunities, health promotion opportunities and more. 

For even more timely relevant news about advocacy issues affecting the club industry, subscribe to Capitol Report.

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A Bridge Over Uncomfortable Waters

Today, as I was perusing Twitter to find inspiration for this week’s (Be Active Your Way) blog post, I came across an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Sherry Pagoto on the real reason we don’t exercise. According to Pagoto, the reason is that we avoid being uncomfortable in an increasingly comfortable world (at least in the US). I read through all the comforts of modern life, and all the discomforts we hate (being cold – guilty, getting out of bed in the wintertime – guilty), and found myself nodding in agreement with Dr. Pagoto’s solution of challenging ourselves to get comfortable being uncomfortable. 

The Best Way to Handle Problem Members

For the most part, health club members are considerate individuals who demonstrate proper etiquette while working out. There are, however, an unfortunate few who make using the club uncomfortable, or even unsafe, for themselves or others. 

In some instances, their bad behavior warrants terminating their membership.

While taking such a step might seem drastic, the safety of other members and club morale may necessitate it. The following are some of the guidelines outlined in IHRSA’s recently updated briefing paper on handling membership terminations.

What’s the legal risk? The greatest risk is a discrimination suit. A person may claim that the action was based on race, disability, or some other factor that can’t legally be taken into account. When weighing expulsion, first ask yourself if the person’s membership deserves, in fact, to be terminated; if you’ve documented the incidents that led to the decision; and, finally, if the individual is a member of a protected class, which might increase any legal liability. Read more. 

Click to read more ...


Imagine Physical Activity on the Food Label

IHRSA is a featured contributor on "Be Active Your Way", the official blog of the Health and Human Services Department, a blog that showcases the contributions that physical activity in general, and IHRSA members in particular make to America's health. 

This month's post on the benefits of adding physical activity to food labels is written by Alex Black, IHRSA's Health Promotion manager.

"It’s actually very difficult for a lot of people to quantify calorie information. Alas, 200 calories looks so innocent on that label until you realize you just wasted 10% of your calorie budget on 12 tortilla chips", Black writes.

See the full blog post on the "Be Active Your Way" blog, as well as prior blog posts and IHRSA Commentaries.


Bill to Make Exercise Equipment More Accessible to Disabled

The US Senate considers bill to make exercise equipment more accessible to people with disabilities

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a preventive health advocate and IHRSA ally, has introduced the Exercise and Fitness for All Act (S.2888), a bill to create voluntary guidelines for fitness providers offering equipment or personal training to Americans with disabilities.

People with disabilities face unique challenges when attempting to use exercise equipment, and S.2888 would create a set of suggested best practices to guide fitness providers in better serving this population. The bill also establishes a tax credit for small businesses that provide accessible fitness equipment.

For additional information, IHRSA members are invited to visit IHRSA's Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) resources.


Victory! Bill to Tax Pennsylvania Health Clubs is Dead for 2014

Legislation that would have imposed Pennsylvania's sales tax on health clubs is dead for 2014. The victory for the industry comes thanks, in large part, to the 115 messages sent from health club operators to lawmakers in Harrisburg.
Last Thursday, Senate Bill 76 (76), which finances property tax reform with an expansion of the sales tax to a number of previously untaxed services - including those provided by health clubs - was officially laid to rest.
IHRSA and our Pennsylvania lobbyist worked with club operators across Pennsylvania to help defeat SB 76. Throughout the session, fitness professionals used IHRSA's online grassroots campaign to connect with their state senator and representative and ask that they oppose SB 76.
While the victory is great news, the celebration will be short-lived. State Senator David Argall, sponsor of SB 76, and other supporters intend to regroup over the coming months and make another push for property tax reform next year in the new two-year session. IHRSA is making its own preparations for a renewed fight on this issue.
IHRSA thanks every industry professional that spoke out for healthy lifestyles in Pennsylvania and against SB 76. Your efforts were essential to protecting our industry. 

IHRSA members are invited to visit The Pennsylvania State page to learn more.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the HERO Forum

Each year, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) convenes the HERO Forum for top professionals in the employee health management field.

It’s a rapidly growing conference that buzzes with the excitement of a growing industry. Much like the annual IHRSA convention, the atmosphere is collegial, and both attendees and presenters alike are generous with their expertise. Unlike the IHRSA convention, however, where the nature of the event suggests that workout attire is appropriate, the HERO Forum attendees have traditionally worn business attire.

But this year, a funny thing happened on the way to the HERO Forum.

In the run up to the event, the conference planners sent the following note to all registered attendees:

“Shed the business dress- Wednesday, October 1st is Casual Fitness Day at the HERO Forum. Come casual, dressed for exercise, or just put on your sneakers to show your support for Forum Fitness Day.”

In essence, the good folks at HERO were practicing one of the most tried and true axioms of employee wellness. If you want an employee to engage in a behavior (or, in this case, conference attendees), you must make it clear that they have permission to engage in the behavior. In this case, HERO was making it crystal clear that exercise attire was appropriate on October 1.

Even with clear permission to dress for exercise on Casual Fitness Day, many conference attendees were uneasy the day before. “Are you really wearing exercise clothes tomorrow?” the attendees asked each other.  Understandably, nobody wanted to be the one person wearing Nike, while everyone else wore Ann Taylor or the Brooks Brothers.

But when morning came, and the first session began at 7am, it was clear that “Casual Fitness Day” was a huge hit. At least half of the attendees looked ready for a group exercise class, or at least a brisk walk. The other half looked very jealous. 

So, here’s hoping that conferences around the world adopt a Casual Fitness Day model and give attendees permission to be active and healthy during the event.

In fact, the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) just released a Healthy Meeting Toolkit to help conference planners create healthy options for meeting attendees.

And, if you’re wondering how to create more physical activity opportunities on a daily basis at the workplace, check out the resources IHRSA and the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) put together relating to the CEO Pledge for Physical Activity. 

Tom Richards

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As IHRSA’s Washington, DC staff member, Tom coordinates IHRSA's outreach to leading organizations and government agencies.

Diabetes in the U.S. is Leveling Off

According to new data released by the CDC, diabetes in the U.S. is leveling off, possibly signaling progress against this very costly and life-threatening disease. The CDC's numbers show the rate of diabetes dropping from 9.3% of the population in 2008 to 7.1% in 2012.
Read more about the study's findings here...
While IHRSA applauds this progress, we know there is still more work to be done, especially by health clubs. Clubs play a vital role in helping Americans prevent, manage, and eliminate Type 2 diabetes by promoting regular exercise and healthy lifestyles. Let's keep up the good work. 


IHRSA's Latest Legislative Report in Slides


Meredith Poppler

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Meredith works daily to grow, protect, and promote the industry by raising awareness of and funding for important public policy issues, while encouraging advocacy, collaboration and leadership within the industry.

The High Cost of Taxing Health Clubs

We are well aware of it in our industry: The nation's health has been in a bad way for some time.

America is suffering from catastrophic rates of physical inactivity, obesity, and chronic disease. Healthcare costs are soaring, and more children are developing diseases that generally only occur in adults, such as heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.

If we remain on our present course, the U.S. is in serious jeopardy. Steps must be taken to invest in our future—the most important being promoting physical activity.

Read the full article.

Click to read more ...


Fitness Tax Proposal Advances in PA Senate

Legislative Alert: With the clock ticking on the Pennsylvania legislature's 2014 session, state lawmakers continue to give serious consideration to imposing a sales tax on health club services. 
Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 76 (SB 76), which finances an elimination of the state's property tax, in part, by expanding the list of services subject to the sales tax. The amended version of that list includes services provided by "fitness and recreational sports centers."
The bill still must pass a full vote in the Senate before being considered in the House (where an identical proposal has previously failed to gain support). And while there is limited time remaining for SB 76 to clear the remaining legislative hurdles, our industry must continue to speak loudly against the bill while it advances toward enactment.
IHRSA is working with its lobbyist in Harrisburg to voice the industry's opposition to the tax and educate legislators on the harmful impact that taxing fitness would have on the physical and fiscal health of the commonwealth. The industry's lobbying efforts will be significantly strengthened by the involvement of health club owners and operators located throughout Pennsylvania.

IHRSA Members should be on the lookout for another Legislative Alert prompting you to take action.