IHRSA Continues the Fight to Gain Federal Relief for Industry

    As one of the industries hardest hit by forced shutdowns, the U.S. health and fitness clubs need to prepare to fight for relief efforts. IHRSA calls upon the industry to support fundraising to ramp up its federal lobbying presence.

    BOSTON, MA—April 14, 2020—To ensure the entire fitness industry—health clubs, their suppliers, and their employees—receives the support deserved and desperately required from the federal government, the industry is ramping up its federal lobbying efforts.

    As soon as states began enforcing mandated closures, IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, was advocating in Washington, D.C., pursuing efforts to keep clubs protected.

    Since Congress is moving quickly on the next rounds of stimulus relief, IHRSA, the industry’s sole representative on Capitol Hill, bulked up its federal lobbying power to ensure the next package provides relief for all of the country’s 40,000 health and fitness club operators.

    The time has come for the fitness industry to roll up their collective sleeves and unify to gain federal relief for all American health and fitness clubs.

    Due to the immediate requirement to retain additional lobbyists, IHRSA and the Industry Leadership Council (ILC) launched a dedicated fundraising campaign outside the annual ILC efforts. This campaign will generate funds to retain the new lobbyists and maintain the increased Washington, D.C., presence the industry requires. IHRSA is asking fitness businesses across the country to invest in this special fundraising effort as soon as possible.

    “It is precisely because regular exercise is critical to our country’s health and economic future that keeping the health club industry strong is good for America.”

    Helen Durkin, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs

    IHRSA - Boston

    On an April 8 call with industry leadership, Helen Durkin, IHRSA's executive vice president of public affairs, announced that the association is immediately retaining multiple Washington, D.C., lobbyists. Each lobbyist will become part of a cohesive lobbying team with strength in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, reaching both Democrats and Republicans.

    The lobbyist firms include:

    • Van Scoyoc Associates (IHRSA's existing lobbyist, increasing their scope),
    • McGuireWoods Consulting (new),
    • Capitol Hill Policy Group (new),
    • Additional assistance is under consideration and will be employed if needed.

    With the new lobbyists in place, the fitness industry will have a higher profile in Washington, D.C. More lobbyists, with connections on both sides of the aisle, will increase IHRSA’s strength in its efforts to advocate for the industry. While IHRSA is exploring all avenues of industry relief, the below are the most immediate:

    • Expand Small Business Association’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan eligibility (either through an administrative fix or via a technical correction in the next stimulus package),
    • Business interruption insurance,
    • Lease/rent relief,
    • And a 9/11-style Business and Employee Continuity Recovery Fund.

    As of April 13, club companies large and small have contributed over $300,000, 100% of which will go directly to industry relief efforts.

    To contribute and or learn more about these efforts, please contact Meredith Poppler at mpoppler@ihrsa.org or 617-316-6750.

    About IHRSA Advocacy and the ILC

    As the industry’s trade association, protecting club operations is what we do, it’s why we exist. IHRSA has been protecting clubs from legislative and regulatory burdens, while also promoting the industry's vital contributions to the health of the nation since the association’s early years.

    Twenty years ago, the industry’s leaders formed the Industry Leadership Council (ILC) as a way to work together for a better and stronger industry by raising money for lobbyists. ILC contributions enable IHRSA to fulfill its role as the industry’s sole protector and advocate in Washington, D.C., and all 50 states.

    ILC members:

    • represent tens of thousands of clubs across the U.S. and Canada, as well as individuals and industry suppliers,
    • actively work toward the common goal of a healthier, stronger, more prosperous nation,
    • value being part of something greater than their immediate business.

    About IHRSA

    The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion.

    As the sole association representing the fitness industry, IHRSA protects clubs from legislative and regulatory burdens, promotes the industry's contributions to the health of the nation, and actively supports policies to grow the exercising population.

    Author avatar

    Meredith Poppler

    Meredith Poppler previously served as IHRSA's Vice President of Communications and Leadership Engagement—a position dedicated to growing, promoting, and protecting the industry through media, policy, and advocacy, and raising awareness and support for important policy issues.