IHRSA Industry Watch provides information and insight on how public policy issues affect not only the health club industry, but your bottom line. You 'll learn about efforts to protect the industry, incentivize exercise participation, and promote health clubs as a major part of the solution to the inactivity epidemic. You’ll also find information on pressing industry issues, industry leaders and leadership opportunities, legislative threats and opportunities, state updates, health promotion opportunities, current events and more.
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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.
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.
IHRSA is hosting a conference call for our Washington, D.C. members to discuss the district's new tax on health club services, and we would like to invite you to participate. The call will help clubs understand what lead to the enactment of the tax, what is now expected of clubs and the current prospects for altering or repealing the requirements of the tax. Enacted as part of the district's budget earlier this summer, the 5.75 percent tax will go into effect on October 1, 2014. IHRSA fought to oppose the tax after it was added to the budget with less than 24-hours before the council's vote on the package, working with fitness professionals and exercise enthusiasts to generate thousands of messages to the city council in opposition to the tax. Those efforts were unsuccessful, however, the campaign helped generate positive press and recruit important allies for our industry's cause. This call is the next step in the industry's renewed efforts to fight against the district's taxation of healthy lifestyles:
To showcase the contributions that IHRSA members make to America's health to policymakers and other "activity-minded" organizations, IHRSA regularly blogs on "Be Active Your Way", the official blog of the Health and Human Services Department.
The blog is designed to encourage healthy, active lifestyles for all Americans, and IHRSA, of course, serves as the voice of health clubs in this effort.
This month, IHRSA explores the power of wearable technology and it's potential to use social behavior to turn the tide against the populations' sedentary nature.
Doctor-recommended physical activity is gaining greater visibility on the world stage.
At conference held last week on behalf of HEPA, the EU body in charge of promoting health-enhancing physical activity, attendees concluded that, "physical activity must be promoted more in health care settings."
In the WHO European Region alone, one million deaths per year (about 10% of the total) are estimated to be attributable to physical inactivity. Health care solutions include education reform and active workplace support for health care professionals; guided prescriptions of physical activity for patients, and the design of health care facilities to have both indoor and outdoor healing environments.
These were among the conclusions drawn at the 10th Annual Meeting and 5th Conference of HEPA Europe, the European Network for the promotion of Health-Enhancing Physical Activity, held in Zurich, Switzerland.
Advocacy is one of the most important activities that you and other health club operators can possibly engage in. There's a tremendous need to demonstrate that clubs have a positive impact on the nation's health, and should be protected from punitive legislation.
In June, for example, the city council in Washington, D.C., approved a 5.75% sales tax on health clubs, yoga studios, and a mumber of other service providers to raise revenue, while reducing income tax rates (see “Washington, D.C., Council,” September 2014 CBI pg. 20).
IHRSA and a number of its member clubs were on the front lines, opposing the tax, but, despite their concerted campaign, the bill was approved by a vote of 9 to 4.
While the industry’s advocates won’t always win, it’s important for us to remain vigilant and to keep up the effort, and when we lose, we should fight even harder.
Still, many club operators don’t participate in industry advocacy for a variety of reasons. They may feel that they’re too busy, or think that the issues involved don’t really affect them. In reality, however, advocacy is definitely something they should make time for.
In June, #WhyGetActive set new records for tweets, likes, and impressions, and IHRSA needs your help to keep the #WhyGetActive ball rolling. There are numerous, easy ways for you to get involved. Here are a few:
#WhyGetActive is a social media movement to get people more physically active by tapping into the many reasons people have for staying healthy. Learn more at ihrsa.org/whygetactive. To see what others are saying, visit whygetactive.org.
In an article titled, "Sweating Out Their Differences," the New York Times offers an inside look at what may be one of the few remaining bipartisan ventures in Congress: getting in a good workout.
Read the full article...
Ori Gorefine, chief operating officer, and Mark Crick, chief executive officer, of Balance Gym in Washington, D.C. have penned a compelling op-ed for the Washington Post on the demerits of the recently enacted 5.75% sales tax on D.C. health and fitness centers.
Read the full op-ed on the Washington Post...