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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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Public Policy and Health Promotion at IHRSA 2015


Must See Public Policy and Health Promotion Sessions at IHRSA 2015

At the IHRSA 2015 Convention & Trade Show in Los Angeles, CA, IHRSA is introducing a new concurrent educational track focused on health promotion and medical wellness. From March 11-14, attendees can choose from an excellent variety of public policy and health promotion sessions and events including:
Wednesday, March 11
  • Employing Your Resources to Attract & Retain Corporate Members, 9:00 AM-10:30 AM 
  • Adding Exercise to Cancer Care: Using Medical Wellness Programs to Benefit Cancer Patients & Survivors, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM 
  • Business Meets Bananas: Making Nutrition Programs Work for Your Club & Your Members, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM 
  • Tax-Exempt Competition Forum, 12:30 PM-1:30 PM 
  • Global Leadership Summit, 3:15 PM-4:30 PM ** (for Industry Leadership Council contributors, email Meredith Poppler to learn more)
  • Wellness Programming for “The Rich & Famous” that Everyone Can Afford, 3:30 PM-4:30 PM 

Thursday, March 12

  • Industry Leadership Council (ILC) Meeting, 11:45 AM-1:00 PM ** 
  • Putting the “Health” in Health Club: Innovative Ways to Partner with Health Care Providers, 1:30 PM-3:00 PM 
  • DeMystifying HIPAA: A Round Table On HIPAA Regulations And How They Relate To Your Club, 3:15 PM - 4:00 PM
  • California Club Operators Meeting, 5:00 PM-6:00 PM 

Friday, March 13

  • Implementing a Medical Fitness Program In Your Club, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Programming 101: The ABCs of Children's Programming, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


ILC members receive special benefits to thank them for their support of IHRSA's efforts to grow, promote and protect the industry. One of those benefits is being invited to attend exclusive ILC member events and networking opportunities throughout IHRSA 2015. Email Meredith Poppler at to learn more.


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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Pledge! To Make America Healthier

Last October, Pat Laus, the founder and CEO of the Atlantic Club, in Manasquan, New Jersey, hosted a luncheon at the club to celebrate her signing of the CEO Pledge. She was joined by Peter Cancro, the founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s Subs, also based in Manasquan, which has 1,300 franchised sub shops open or under development across the U.S.

“I’m excited to sign the CEO Pledge on behalf of The Atlantic Club,” Laus said ina press release. “It goes hand in hand with our corporate mission to expand wellness and extend life for people of all ages. I believe it’s important to support and promote this mission with (respect to) our own employees.”

Read more about the CEO Pledge.

Click to read more ...


Op-Ed: Disruptive Women in Healthcare

Helen Durkin, IHRSA's EVP of Global Public Policy penned the featured article today in Disruptive Women in Healthcare, an online community of thought leaders both in and outside healthcare.

Helen's article discusses the link between obesity and cancer development and applauds a position statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology confirming their commitment to join the fight against obesity.

It also highlights the important services health clubs provide in cancer wellness treatment, as well as the efforts of The IHRSA Foundation to support programs that encourage these types of initiatives that use exercise, nutrition, and stress management as a way of helping cancer survivors lead healthier lives.

Read the full article here... 

Helen Durkin

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Champion for the health club industry. Committed advocate for physical activity, primary prevention, and public policies that promote wellness because it will take more than personal responsibility to get the world active.

IHRSA issues Legislative Alerts for 3 States

Last week, IHRSA's Public Policy Department issued for Legislative Alerts to Club Operators in three states. And, as we've seen recently, much of the reason for the alerts is good news, as lawmakers are considering financial incentives to exercise. 

In Connecticut, lawmakers are currently considering multiple pieces of legislation that could affect Connecticut health clubs. IHRSA is working with our lobbying team in Hartford to represent the IHRSA member clubs' interests as the following three bills make their way through the legislature, including one that proposes to eliminate Connecticut’s sales tax on health club memberships and initiation fees. IHRSA members are invited to learn more here.

In Mississippi, lawmakers are considering a Tax Incentive for Employee Wellness. Legislation has been introduced in both the state house and senate that would create an income tax credit for Mississippi businesses that provide employee wellness programs. IHRSA will work to ensure that health club memberships are explicitly included as a part of a qualifying wellness program. IHRSA members are invited to learn more here.

In Minnesota, IHRSA is again teaming up with FIT Minnesota - a coalition of Minnesota-based health clubs - to advocate for the passage of legislation that would incentivize physical activity among state residents. With the support of IHRSA members across the state, we are optimistic that our goal will be reached in the 2015 session. IHRSA members are invited to learn more here.

To be sure you receive alerts for your state, please contact


Enacting Health Policy in Battle Against Lifestyle Diseases

Just as the practice of good health is a day-to-day campaign, so too is the effort to get governments to enact good health policy. IHRSA's promotion of physical exercise and anti-obesity policy is not just centered in the United States. Nor is it limited to one specific policy prescription. IHRSA works with a number of governments and uses the information we have regarding global lifestyle diseases as an entry into those decision makers. 

For example, below is a letter to the editor and a story that shows the global harm from lifestyle diseases that the IHRSA policy team uses with public officials.

In response to an article in The New York Times, “Chronic Diseases Are Killing More in Poorer Countries,” Helen Durkin, IHRSA Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy wrote the following: 

Dear Editors:

Your article exposes the insidious nature of chronic—or “lifestyle”— diseases and serves as a stark reminder that along with the benefits of urbanization comes a toll. As the world’s populations increasingly migrate to cities, lifestyles related to more sedentary occupations and living spaces are likely to take hold. As we have observed here in the U.S., environment (both social and built) radically affects living habits and health. Perhaps this report will help us more acutely recognize the global nature of the fight against chronic disease—and that the best, most cost-effective cure is to prevent it wherever and whenever we can. It’s time for our domestic and international health-funding policies to reflect that reality.

Helen Durkin, Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy, IHRSA


YMCA Tax-Exempt Questioned

The Board of Commissioners in Warren County, Pennsylvania, has asked the Warren County YMCA to provide information verifying that it qualifies as a tax-exempt organization.

Failure to produce this tax-exempt status may mean that the YMCA will be forced to close down for good. The YMCA must also pass the HUP (Hospital Utilization Project v. Commonwealth) within the next 60 days. The test is designed to regulate the requirements that any organization must meet in order to be considered a “purely public charity.”

IHRSA advocates for equal tax-treatment of for profit health clubs and their not-for-profit competition. We will continue to closely monitor this issue.

Click here for more information.


Working to Exempt Health Clubs from Taxation

Earlier this month, the Missouri State Legislature introduced Senate Bill 57 (SB 57), which would allow health clubs to be exempted from state and local taxation.
A similar bill stalled in the Missouri Senate last year, so IHRSA is hard at work to encourage the passage of this legislation and to promote the benefits of daily exercise and healthy living.
Currently, 25 states tax health club services. In 2014, IHRSA fought for sales tax repeals in Iowa and New Jersey in addition to Missouri.
IHRSA will continue to fight for them wherever possible in 2015 and beyond.
IHRSA members are invited to learn more about SB57 at and more about efforts to grow exercise participation by downloading the Industry Leadership Report.

New Jersey Alert: New Membership Contract Requirements

New Jersey Bill Calls for New Membership Contract Requirements for Health Clubs

Legislation has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature that would impose new, potentially costly and burdensome requirements for health club operators in the Garden State.
Assembly Bill 4034 would require clubs that automatically renew membership contracts to send a notice to members within 60 to 90 days following completion of the initial contract agreement and the initiation of the automatic renewal. The notification would have to be sent by registered or certified mail.
IHRSA is currently working with our lobbyist in Trenton on outreach to key legislators to communicate the negative impact that this bill would have on NJ clubs. To learn more about the bill and our efforts in New Jersey, IHRSA members are invited to read more...

In 2014, IHRSA identified and neutralized consumer protection threats in 7 states. IHRSA anticipates that membership contract restrictions will be an issue in 21 states, and we are working with our legislators to ensure that no harmful bills move forward in 2015.


Gearing Up for the New Legislative Session

January, traditionally, is a busy month for both health clubs and state legislatures. While clubs are dealing with a flurry of new members armed with New Year’s resolutions, legislators are returning to work to process a flurry of new bills.

Many of the proposals they’ll consider have the potential to affect clubs, possibly in adverse ways, so operators are well advised to keep an eye on legislative developments. The following are several types of legislation that might surface this month, or later in the 2015 session, as well as tips to prepare you to respond effectively in the event they’re introduced.

Read more.

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