BOSTON, MA—March 18, 2021—IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, has confirmed 12 qualified professionals to lead its Medical, Science, and Health Advisory Council.

The Council’s formation began in October 2020, as the need to align the health and fitness industry with experts in the broader medical, science, and public health fields grew. The overall goals for the group are to:

  • protect public safety,
  • improve population health and individual health risks, and
  • foster collaboration between the medical community and health and fitness industry.

The Medical, Science, and Health Advisory Council will advise and assist the IHRSA Board of Directors and Executive Staff on the latest research and science. Its members include:

  • James Annesi, Ph.D., University of Alabama Birmingham and Kennesaw State University
  • Jason Beck, M.D., Arkansas Specialty Radiology
  • Maria Borodina, M.D., Ph.D., Russian Federal Medical-biological Agency and World Health Organization
  • Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • Tyler Cooper, M.D., MPH, Cooper Aerobics and Cooper Clinic
  • Lori Deemer, M.D., Hancock Wellness Centers
  • Mikel Izquierdo, Ph.D., Public University of Navarra, Navarrabiomed, and Spanish Olympic Committee
  • Lee Johnson, M.D., Baptist Medical Center, Arkansas State House of Representatives
  • David L. Katz, M.D., MPH, DietID and True Health Initiative
  • Mark Panigutti, M.D., Southwest General Medical Center
  • Robert Sallis, M.D., Kaiser Permanente Medical Center
  • Michelle Segar, Ph.D., MPH, MS, University of Michigan Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center

The group held its first meeting on March 12, discussing how IHRSA and the council could align their efforts to make fitness centers a more integrated part of the continuum of health. The group touched on the need to move away from the current system of “disease care” to a proper healthcare system that values and incentivizes fitness, nutrition, and other lifestyle prevention measures. They also discussed the vital role health and fitness play in maintaining overall health and well-being, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The council had a robust discussion around how the health and fitness club industry can and should be a cornerstone of health and healthcare,” said Brent Darden, IHRSA interim president and CEO. “This council is a passionate group, and we look forward to working with them to move our vision forward.”

Visit this page to learn more about the Medical, Science, and Health Advisory Council and its members.


IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, is a not-for-profit trade association representing the global fitness industry of over 200,000 health and fitness facilities and their suppliers.

IHRSA maintains a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to peak health and fight the battle against obesity and chronic lifestyle disease. As one of the world's leading authorities on the commercial health club industry, IHRSA’s mission is to grow, promote, and protect the health and fitness industry, while providing its members with benefits and resources. IHRSA and its members are devoted to making the world happier, healthier, and more prosperous through regular exercise and activity promotion. IHRSA is the publisher of Club Business International, the leading monthly magazine for the global fitness industry.