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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Wednesday
Apr222015

Expert Panel to Design Adult Fitness Tax Credit

Since 2007, Fitness Industry Council of Canada has been advocating for an Adult Fitness Tax Credit. This included commissioning an economic report from the Centre for Spatial Economics (CSE) in 2007, which indicated that the introduction of an Adult Fitness Tax Credit would save the government $625 million in net health care costs over five years.  At the time, 3 of 5 Canadians supported a tax credit to encourage physical activity.

In 2013, the federal budget office estimated that an Adult Fitness Tax Credit could cost $268 million over five years.  With an implemented Adult Fitness Tax Credit, the CSE report also estimates that the number of physically active adult Canadians would increase by almost one million people.

“This is great news for the fitness industry and all Canadians,” says David Hardy, President of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada.  “As an industry association, we have been working for eight years to implement this tax credit, and today we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  In addition to encouraging more Canadians to get more active, this initiative will also help in the prevention of several chronic diseases and untimely save health care costs and reduce lost work days due to illnesses.”

The 2011 election platform stated that an Adult Fitness Tax Credit would be implemented “to support Canadians in choosing a healthy, active lifestyle [and the Government] will establish an Adult Fitness Tax Credit, to cover up to $500 in registration fees for fitness activities for adults.” This commitment would “[help] avoid major chronic health problems, and [increase] overall well-being. And there’s a huge range of activities that can help achieve these goals – from hockey at the rec centre to time on the treadmill.”

The Government implemented a $500 tax credit for children’s fitness activities in 2007, and then bumped the eligible amount to $1,000 on October 9, 2014. Fitness Industry Council of Canada is proud to announce that our efforts have a made a difference in improving the health and well-being of Canadians. For more information, please visit AdultFitnessTaxCredit.ca.

Tuesday
Apr212015

Maryland Legislature Adjourned for 2015

On April 13th, Maryland adjourned its 2015 legislative session without enacting any new rules for health clubs in the state.

IHRSA carefully reviewed each introduced bill, searching for legislation that would impact the health club industry either positively or negatively, prepared to notify Maryland clubs when advocacy is needed. 

At the start of the 2015 session, IHRSA worked with our lobbyist in Annapolis to successfully prevent the introduction of overly burdensome personal trainer licensure legislation. IHRSA defeated such legislation in 2009 and 2010 and has taken a proactive approach since 2011 by working with our lobbyist and key lawmakers to head off the reintroduction of any requirements that would harm Maryland's personal training industry.
 
IHRSA also worked to protect Maryland health clubs against legislation that could have expanded the state’s sales tax to health clubs. Prior to the start of the session, IHRSA, with help from our lobbyist, ensured that a tax on wellness would not be reintroduced this year.

During the session, IHRSA also sought opportunities to promote and advance legislation that would create financial incentives for exercise and drive more members to health clubs. We hope to continue to build upon these initiatives in the 2016 session.

Monday
Apr202015

Grow, Promote, Protect for 2015

Our Country is suffering from an Inactivity Epidemic 

Despite the many proven health benefits of exercise; physical inactivity, obesity, and chronic disease continue to be growing problems. Meanwhile, we know that clubs (and their well-trained, caring, expert staff) truly are the solution to the inactivity epidemic.

While the industry is growing — health club memberships reached 50.2 million in 2013, an increase of 5.4% over 2012 — the majority of the population is still terribly inactive. And still, state legislatures continue to propose laws that put up additional barriers to exercise.

Therefore, IHRSA’s advocacy team works around-the-clock to Grow, Promote and Protect the industry.

Download a pledge form here. Read more.

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Friday
Apr172015

The Worldwide Battle against Taxing Membership Dues

IHRSA works with clubs around the world to battle the misguided attempts of government to tax their citizens health by imposing high taxes on club memberships. In the U.S., that battle takes place at the state level. While the industry has been successful in stoping most new attempts to tax membership dues, we all know repealing or significantly reducing a tax is a hard and challenging road. Thanks to the efforts of the Polish Fitness Association for Employers (PFAE) more government officials have seen the light, and have reduced the value added tax (VAT) from 23% to 8% for membership in Polish clubs. Read more.

IHRSA works in each of the 50-states to achieve what Poland has done - to remove financial barriers to joining a health club. IHRSA is currently working with club operators in Maine and Pennsylvania to oppose sales tax impositions in their states, and are working with club operators in Washington, DC to repeal the recently imposed city tax on healthy lifestyles.

Friday
Apr172015

Arkansas Legislature Adjourned for 2015

Arkansas lawmakers finished their work for 2015 without enacting any new rules for health clubs in the state. The legislature is currently in recess and will formally adjourn on April 22nd.

IHRSA carefully reviewed each introduced bill, searching for legislation that would impact the health club industry either positively or negatively, prepared to notify Arkansas clubs when advocacy is needed. 

Entering 2015, IHRSA was prepared to defend the Arkansas health club industry against an expansion of the state sales tax to include golf, tennis, and racquet clubs.  Legislation to that effect was introduced, however, the bill failed to advance.

IHRSA strongly opposes taxing health clubs. We believe that the government should promote regular exercise and encourage healthy lifestyles, rather than discourage them by taxing health club dues and services.

Additionally, IHRSA sought opportunities to advance legislation that would promote healthy living and opportunities to join a health club. We will continue to look for opportunities in the 2016 session.

Friday
Apr172015

Arizona Legislature Adjourns, Does Not Impose Sales Tax on Health Clubs

Arizona adjourned its 2015 legislative session on April 2nd without enacting any new rules for health clubs in the state.

IHRSA carefully reviewed each introduced bill, searching for legislation that would impact the health club industry either positively or negatively, prepared to notify Arizona clubs when advocacy is needed. 

Heading into the 2015 session, IHRSA was ready to defend Arizona’s health clubs against the threat of a sales tax on health club services. However, after defeating a similar bill two sessions ago, this expansion of the sales tax was not considered during the session.

IHRSA also carefully monitored legislation that would regulate childcare facilities in the state to guarantee that it would not have a negative effect on your business. Like the sales tax threat, the issue did not materialize in 2015.

Finally, IHRSA sought opportunities to advance legislation that would promote healthy living and incentivize joining a health club. We will continue to look for opportunities in the upcoming session.

Thursday
Apr162015

Momentum for the PHIT Act

Information in the following post was reproduced with permission from Daily Tax Report, 69 DTR G-1 (Apr. 10, 2015). Copyright 2015 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033

A recent article done by the Bureau of National Affairs, a widely respected and read publication in Washington, D.C., discusses the growing support behind the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. The coverage is well-received since the increased media presence and backing could help the bill gain more momentum that could ultimately lead to its passage.

In the House in the last Congress, the bill had 50 cosponsors – 26 Democrats and 24 Republicans – and has gained more than a dozen cosponsors this year.

Reintroduced at the start of this year and backed by Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin) and Charles Boustany (R-Louisiana), the PHIT Act would help to finance opportunities for physical activity by allowing for the use of pre-tax dollars to cover physical-activity related expenses such as health club memberships, exercise equipment, group exercise classes, etc.

"When I think about PHIT’s path toward passage, I always think of the Jim Collins flywheel,” said Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy, “You push and push until momentum takes over and the flywheel flies. We are optimistic about PHIT, because the momentum continues to build.”

“The main idea behind this legislation is that disease prevention through exercise and healthy lifestyle choices is far less expensive than specialty treatment for diseases after it’s too late,” reasoned Jack Pandol, Boustany’s communications director, “We should encourage Americans to make these healthy choices by incentivizing them in the tax code. That’s what the PHIT Act does.”

For additional information on PHIT and ways that you can advocate for healthy living, visit ihrsa.org/phit

Monday
Apr132015

Georgia Legislature Adjourned for 2015

Georgia adjourned its 2015 legislative session on April 2nd without enacting any new rules for health clubs in the state.

IHRSA carefully reviewed each introduced bill, searching for legislation that would impact the health club industry either positively or negatively, prepared to notify Georgia clubs when advocacy is needed. 

At the start of the 2015 session, IHRSA prepared to defend the Georgia health club industry against the following threats regarding: 

  • Mandated use of automated external defibrillators
  • Regulation of membership contract restrictions
  • Burdensome personal trainer regulations

However, these threats did not materialize as legislation this year.

Additionally, IHRSA sought opportunities to advance legislation that would promote healthy living and incentivize joining a health club. We will continue to look for opportunities in the 2016 session.

Friday
Apr102015

Mississippi Legislature Adjourned for 2015

Mississippi adjourned its 2015 legislative session on April 2nd without enacting any new rules for health clubs in the state.

IHRSA carefully reviewed each introduced bill, searching for legislation that would impact the health club industry either positively or negatively, prepared to notify Mississippi clubs when advocacy is needed. 

At the beginning of the 2015 session, IHRSA was ready to defend the Mississippi health club industry against potential threats regarding membership contract restrictions and sales tax impositions. However, these threats did not materialize as legislation this year.

IHRSA also sought opportunities to advance legislation that would promote healthy living and drive more members to health clubs. We hope to continue to build upon these initiatives in the 2016 session.

Friday
Apr102015

Kentucky Legislature Adjourned for 2015

The Kentucky legislature held executive sessions until April 4th without enacting any new rules for health clubs in the state.

IHRSA carefully reviewed each introduced bill, searching for legislation that would impact the health club industry either positively or negatively, prepared to notify Kentucky clubs when advocacy is needed. 

IHRSA worked during 2015 to protect the industry from legislation that would mandate AEDs in facilities that operate a swimming pool. The bill, which did not contain necessary liability protections for health club operators, did not advance prior to the session's adjournment.
 
At the start of the session, IHRSA prepared to defend Kentucky health clubs against a threat to member privacy in health club locker rooms. We also monitored a potential sales tax imposition, but neither of these threats materialized as legislation this year.

Additionally, IHRSA sought opportunities to advance legislation that would promote healthy living and incentivize joining a health club. We will continue to look for opportunities in the 2016 session.