Building an Advocacy Powerhouse

The National Health and Fitness Alliance is working towards advocating for the fitness industry with an ambitious policy agenda that is just what the industry ordered.

As the fitness industry emerges from COVID-19, we must also climb out of the deep economic pain caused by government mandates. To unite the advocacy, public affairs, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, and lobbying efforts of the fitness industry in the United States, IHRSA has launched the new National Health and Fitness Alliance (“NHFA”).

Year 1 Objectives

In its first year, the NHFA will focus on three core objectives:

  1. Establish the NHFA as a new advocacy powerhouse, laser-focused on the United States, capable of profoundly influencing legislation at the national and state levels.

  2. Vigorously pursue a clearly articulated policy agenda, including legislation to provide the industry with relief from the economic harm.

  3. Develop and support a nationwide network of highly effective fitness industry advocates to build relationships with policymakers, advance the NHFA policy agenda, and loudly proclaim the value of health and fitness facilities to external audiences.

CBI NHFA empty gym unsplash column

“The pandemic made it painfully clear that too many policymakers and public health officials don’t quite grasp the vital nature of the health and fitness industry,” said Brent Darden, former IHRSA interim president and CEO at the time of the launch. “I am confident that the NHFA will strongly communicate the value of our industry and effectively advocate for policies that support our leadership role in building more active and healthy communities.”

An Ambitious Policy Agenda

The NHFA has an ambitious policy agenda for its first year that reflects the bold and BIG thinking of the advisory council members. The agenda includes:

  • Enacting federal legislation to provide financial relief for the fitness industry (e.g., The GYMS Act)

  • Reaching a strategically significant level of support for federal legislation that would provide favorable tax treatment for physical activity expenses (e.g., The PHIT Act)

  • Increasing federal funding for initiatives that encourage physical activity

  • Achieving victories in 80% or more of the industry-specific state proposals that would adversely affect the industry

  • Developing model "health club consumer protection legislation" to update, modernize, and harmonize state laws

A 10-member advisory council, led by chairperson Gale Landers, Founder & CEO of Fitness Formula Clubs, will help guide the NHFA.

"The NHFA will build upon the groundwork laid by IHRSA and the Industry Leadership Council,” said Landers. “We look forward to uniting the advocacy, public policy, and lobbying efforts of the entire fitness industry, by collaborating with and incorporating the work of the newly-created state alliances, while supporting club companies of all sizes, advancing stakeholder engagement, and raising the profile of the fundraising necessary to achieve our goals."

CBI NHFA woman working out unsplash column

Members of the Advisory Council vow to act in accordance with five principles considered vital to the success of the NHFA:

  • Embody servant leadership to industry stakeholders

  • Focus on the greater good of the industry

  • Be faithful stewards of contributions

  • Operate with transparency

  • Always drive toward clearly defined outcomes

The activities of NHFA are funded, in part, by revenue generated from IHRSA membership dues and other association activities; and also from allied organizations, industry stakeholders, and individuals.

In fact, IHRSA recently reconfigured its membership tiers to allow members to allocate a larger portion of their dues to NHFA activities. For example, 75% of the “IHRSA Premium” membership dues for U.S.-based clubs are distributed directly to NHFA activities.

For more information on the National Health & Fitness Alliance, including how you can get more involved, please visit nationalhealthandfitnessalliance.com.

The inaugural class of 10 Advisory Council members includes:

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Tom Richards

Tom Richards is a contributor to IHRSA.org.