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Advocacy Can Positively Impact Your Gym’s Bottom Line

It is critically important for club operators to know about pending litigation, court decisions, and legislation that impacts their business, says Mark Durall, general manager at Olympic Athletic Club.

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.

Lessons in Fitness Leadership Mark Durall Column Width

Mark Durall
General Manager
Olympic Athletic Club

Mark Durall is a passionate industry leader who has the critical understanding that the advocacy work IHRSA does enables him to focus on running his club without fear of legislation that could negatively impact the bottom line.

What is the most fulfilling part of being a leader in the fitness industry?

I would say helping others and being part of an industry with such an incredibly positive mission. We’re not selling or promoting unhealthy or harmful activities or products. Everything about our industry is focused on helping people achieve and maintain optimal health and fitness.

If you could go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger self about working in the fitness industry?

Slow down and stay balanced. It’s important to schedule time for yourself every day to work out, eat right, and get enough rest. It’s very hard to do, sometimes. But, it will benefit you, your family, and your business.

“Every major industry in America has a lobbyist or advocacy group working on their behalf to grow, promote, and protect their interests. IHRSA and the ILC does that for us.”

Mark Durall, General Manager

Olympic Athletic Club - Seattle, WA

IHRSA does a significant amount of advocacy work to Grow, Promote and Protect clubs across the country. How do you feel that work benefits your business or the industry at large?

The advocacy work that IHRSA performs benefits our business and everyone involved in the Health and Fitness Industry. Every major industry in America has a lobbyist or advocacy group working on their behalf to grow, promote, and protect their interests. IHRSA and the ILC does that for us.

Why should club operators or industry leaders get involved in the ILC and IHRSA Advocacy?

Because it’s critically important for club operators to know about pending litigation, court decisions, and legislation that impacts their business, ASAP. The ILC and IHRSA Advocacy Team tracks the introduction of legislation that could be harmful to our industry and quickly notifies health club operators and industry leaders who might be affected. Also, they interpret and explain how to comply with existing State and Federal rules and regulations to avoid liability and legal action. For those of you who haven’t met them, I encourage you to attend an ILC meeting during the next IHRSA Conference. They are an amazing group of professionals dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of the Health and Fitness Industry.

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council? Or what has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC?

Recently, a Senate Bill was introduced in our state legislature that would have prohibited the use of liability waivers by private (for profit) health clubs. The ILC and IHRSA Advocacy Team quickly notified us and other IHRSA members in the state who would be impacted, if the legislation was passed and implemented. Also, they provided us with the legal advice, strategic planning, and support necessary to defeat the Bill. Their leadership and assistance was critical to our success.

The Personal Health Investment Today Act, or PHIT, is legislation that would make access to physical activity more affordable. How will the passage of this bill help America get fit?

It will allow Americans to use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for health club memberships, which will help make getting and staying fit more affordable. This legislation is a key example of what IHRSA and the ILC is capable of accomplishing on behalf of everyone involved in the health and fitness industry.

Founded 20 years ago by a group of concerned industry leaders, the Industry Leadership Council exists so that IHRSA has the funds to stop or amend legislation and regulations that would be harmful to club operations, as well as to have the resources necessary to take advantage of opportunities—like PHIT and financial incentives to exercise—that would grow the industry.

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Emily Gluck

Emily Gluck is IHRSA's Executive Assistant. On average her job consists of scheduling, supporting the executive team, and planning events, while the best part of her job is getting to work with a great team on a daily basis. If Emily is out of the office you can typically find her kayaking, hiking in a national park, or rafting on a remote river (ideally she likes to get out of cell phone range).