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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Maine Considering Sales Tax on Health Clubs

In April, IHRSA launched a grassroots advocacy campaign to fight against a potential expansion of the sales tax to include health club services.

Since then, Democrats and Republicans in the statehouse have each introduced their own alternative tax reform packages. The Democrats' plan mirrors the Republican governor's in its proposed expansion of the state sales tax to include currently untaxed services, including health clubs. The Republicans' package does not expand the sales tax. The legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations is now working to reconcile all three proposals into a single plan.

IHRSA is encouraging Maine health club operators to speak out against this sales tax on healthy lifestyles by contacting state legislators to inform them that health club services are not just an “amusement,” but are instead a crucial component in improving the health and happiness of Maine’s citizens.

See this CBI article for more on the wellness tax issue. And see talking points to educate your lawmakers here.

And to help IHRSA protect clubs from harmful legislation and taxes in all fifty states, pledge your support today to the Industry Leadership Council.


Keep Your Business Safe, and Growing

If you appreciate the work IHRSA is doing to keep your business safe from government intrusion, and/or our efforts to grow the number of people exercising in clubs, please consider supporting those efforts by contributing to the ILC.

Every dollar pledged is very much appreciated, and put to the best of uses.

For some of the many reasons to contribute or be more involved, check out: 


IHRSA Foundation to Debut at ACSM / EIM Conference

The IHRSA Foundation will make debut at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting and Exercise is Medicine ® World Conference in San Diego from May 26th-May 30th.

Amy Bantham, IHRSA’s Vice President of Government Relations and Health Promotion, Dr. Eddie Phillips, and other representatives of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine will be present their detailed research - which describes the link between physician’s attitudes towards exercise and health clubs, and their likelihood of prescribing physical activity to their patients.

The mission of the IHRSA Foundation is to promote healthy lifestyles through participation in regular exercise. The foundation will encourage regular physical activity by working with clubs to offer evidence-based health promotion programs to better prevent and manage chronic diseases.                          

For more information on the IHRSA Foundation, please visit


Sales Tax Bill to be Introduced in Pennsylvania


Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, recently announced his plan to expand the current sales tax to untaxed services, including health clubs.

This week, Representative Jake Wheatley will introduce legislation that would finance the governor’s tax reform proposals.

IHRSA is calling on health club operators in the state to oppose this sales tax by reaching out to state representatives and informing them of the negative impact that this tax would have on healthy lifestyles.

We will continue to fight this tax on wellness and keep you informed of any updates. 


ILC Update: To Be Data Informed

Hamlet famously asks “ To be, or not to be, that is the question…” Taking liberties with Shakespeare for today’s business operators, I ask, “To be data driven or to be data informed, that is the question.” 

Being data driven – relying on cold hard data to drive decisions – sounds good, but Beth Kanter, author of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, Using Data to Change the World”, makes the case for something different. Being “data informed”, Kanter writes, “is a far more useful label than being data driven because it describes agile, responsive, and intelligent businesses that are better able to succeed in a rapidly changing environment.”

Data is on my mind today because I am sharing with you the results from our “Forecasting the Future of the Health Club Industry” research. Earlier this year, we asked you (a few hundred ILC and Industry leaders) to gaze into your crystal ball, and tell us what you see for the future of the club industry. Meredith Poppler presented a brief overview of that data at this years’ ILC meeting during the L.A. Convention in March. As promised, Meredith has taken those results, along with the results of the European CEO Survey done in the fall, and has created an interesting new report, “Forecasting the Future of the Health Club Industry” exclusively for ILC members to download. (To receive a copy of this report now, please pledge to the ILC. The report will be made available to all IHRSA members this summer.)

One area of the survey that all of you agree on is the continued growth of the niche/boutique/studio market.

When asked how this growth was impacting business, 14% of US operators saw positive impact, while 51% are seeing no impact, and 34% are seeing negative impact. Clearly, these studios are one of the factors creating the rapidly changing environment you may be operating in.

I hope you find the report useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me.



Helen A. Durkin
EVP Public Policy

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has renewed their pledge to the ILC this year. If you haven’t yet, I want to encourage you to make your pledge in early May. We know how important it is to you to see who is on and not on the ILC pledge list. Later this month, I’ll send around a list of all the current years’ contributors. If you name isn’t on there already, don’t delay in making your 2015 pledge. Email Meredith Poppler or download a pledge form here.


Attention Missouri Clubs

IHRSA is asking that health clubs in Missouri speak out against the state’s current tax on health club services.

House Bill 117 (HB 117), which would repeal Missouri’s sales tax on health club services, received a hearing in the state Senate Ways and Means Committee last week, at which IHRSA and multiple local club operators offered testimony in support of the bill. Yesterday, the committee issued a formal recommendation in favor of the bill's enactment. HB 117 will now move to a full Senate vote. 

This current sales tax discourages Missouri residents from pursuing healthy lifestyles. The government should be encouraging opportunities for physical activity in order to help combat the sedentary and obesity crises in this country.

For more information on the Missouri sales tax and how you can become involved in the repeal process, see


ILC Update: 82.7m Americans are Inactive

Today May 1st, marks the start of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month!  But a little over a week ago, the 2015 Participation Report by the Physical Activity Council announced the bad news that 82.7 million Americans were inactive in 2014. As an industry, reversing this trend is important. Getting more people more physically active is good for our communities and the club business.

In May, we are taking a page from Simon Sinek and “Start with Why” by focusing on #WhyGetActive.  This social media campaign launched at IHRSA Convention last year, is becoming a grassroots movement to combat that crisis by reminding people the reason why they are active. 

  Share Our Infographic 

Join us in using #WhyGetActive as a tool to engage your community and strategic partners around this important topic. ILC members have different levels of engagement in social media, but here is a list of the types of things you may want to do to join the movement: 

  • Tweet your own reason(s) for pursuing an active, healthy lifestyle.
  • Use the hashtag to share your own physical activity habits
  • Add the hashtag to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media posts when sharing a relevant article or research study from your personal account or the club account
  • Add the hashtag to your clubs social media during the month. When you share your members’ stories of why they pursue an active, healthy lifestyle don't forget #WhyGetActive.
  • Encourage  your trainers to take #WhyGetActive photos with each client, and share them from their own accounts, to be re-shared by the club account.

For more on the orgins of #WhyGetActive, see our blog post from the launch on the Department of Health and Human Services "Be Active Your Way Blog.  

Ready to join us?



Helen A. Durkin
EVP Public Policy

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has renewed their pledge to the ILC this year. If you haven’t yet, I want to encourage you to make your pledge in in early May. We know how important it is to you to see who is on and not on the ILC pledge list. So in May, I’ll send around a list of all the current years’ contributors. If you name isn’t on there already, don’t delay in making your 2015 pledge. Contact Meredith Poppler ( or download a pledge form  here.


E-book Ensures Weight Loss Success!

Weight loss. It’s the main reason that most people join health clubs—but weight loss programs can cut both ways.

When people are successful, they’ll rave about your club to friends and family, attracting more prospects who are anxious to enjoy the same sort of success. Positive word-of-mouth increases your club’s visibility in your local community.

On the other hand, when clients aren’t successful, you may find comments posted on social media that might tarnish your reputation and dissuade others from giving your club a try. Read more.

Click to read more ...


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


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.