BOSTON—February 18, 2019—While there are a multitude of reasons to belong to an industry trade association, such as education, networking, and research; often the most overlooked benefit is advocacy. Perhaps advocacy is overlooked because it’s not as tangible as a research report or convention registration. That doesn’t mean it’s not vital to your business.

Take the fitness industry for instance. If health clubs and fitness businesses operated in an ideal world where advocacy wasn’t needed:

  • Lawmakers wouldn’t propose unnecessary regulations that make access to health clubs or personal trainers more expensive.
  • Governments would encourage physically active lifestyles, rather than tax healthy behaviors like gym memberships.
  • People would have all the motivation and support they need to exercise regularly.
  • Kids would get plenty of recess, physical education, and active time before, during, and after school.

Sadly, the real world paints a different picture:

  • In 2018, lawmakers in 12 different states proposed harmful regulations on health club operations 23 times, and 68 times over the past five years.
  • Eleven (11) states sought to tax health club memberships as a new revenue source last year, and 25 times over the past 5 years.
  • Youth sports have become very expensive, and many families could use a break in paying for these vital activities.
  • American kids spend way too much time sitting and do not get an adequate amount of recess, physical education, or active time at or after school.

For the reasons above and many more, IHRSA, The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association advocates on behalf of the fitness industry. While always seeking opportunities to grow the industry and the number of people accessing health clubs, IHRSA advocacy is the first, and often the only line of defense for the industry.

So, with another year of legislative sessions in the books, and new sessions just getting into action, IHRSA has released its annual advocacy impact report.

The 2018 IHRSA Advocacy Impact Report with 2019 Legislative Forecasting:

  • Details the advocacy work from across the globe and in all 50 states.
  • Illustrates the many ways health clubs are targeted by misguided legislation—sometimes deliberately, and sometimes accidentally—by lawmakers and their unending desire to regulate and tax.
  • Highlights the global opportunities for industry growth through policy and alliance building.
  • Forecasts and prepares club operators of the threats that could affect their businesses the IHRSA team and its lobbyists across the country expect to face in 2019 and beyond.

The first section of the report details all the ways IHRSA—working with association and Industry Leadership Council (ILC) members—protected club operations across the U.S. in 2018, and what the trends and research forecast as defensive battles in 2019.

The second section highlights the many ways that IHRSA works to grow the industry, such as:

  • Expanding access to physical activity for children and the disabled.
  • Expanding knowledge and research on the benefits of exercise on a global level.
  • Partnering and collaborating with international entities like the WHO to ensure the fitness industry is part of the global dialog around world health.

So, while none of us live or operate in a perfect world, you can rest assured that IHRSA—working with a team of lobbyists across the country, and passionate members and allies across the globe—is and will continue to do everything possible to help fitness clubs operate at their best—so that fitness consumers are enabled to live their happier, healthier, more active lives.

The report is free to access on IHRSA’s website. Please contact for a pdf of the report.


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. Through IHRSA’s membership (over 9,000 clubs and industry suppliers from 71 countries), partners, and allied federations, IHRSA reaches more than 33,000 fitness facilities, 1 million fitness industry professionals, and 150 million consumers worldwide.

IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion.