10 Industry Veterans Lead the National Health & Fitness Alliance

    The NHFA and its Advisory Council seek to unite and build on advocacy and lobbying efforts to represent and protect every sector of the U.S. fitness industry.

    The arrival of COVID-19 in the United States revealed a devastating truth to fitness industry stakeholders: policymakers and public health professionals in many jurisdictions do not understand or appreciate the essential role that health clubs and fitness facilities play in communities across the nation.

    At the outset of the pandemic, government officials were quick to shut down fitness facilities and, subsequently, were entirely too slow to acknowledge the evidence-based case for reopening with appropriate safety measures. As a result, the industry has experienced untold economic harm—and regulations denied millions of Americans access to fitness services that could prevent or mitigate the physical and mental health consequences of COVID-19.

    In response, IHRSA has resolved to unite industry stakeholders around initiatives that highlight the health and fitness industry’s distinctive value.

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    A major new initiative is the National Health & Fitness Alliance (NHFA), which aims to unite the advocacy, public affairs, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, and lobbying efforts of the national health and fitness industry to represent and protect the entire U.S. fitness industry.

    “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, IHRSA interim president and CEO. “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.”

    Who will lead the initiative?

    IHRSA and the IHRSA Board of Directors have cultivated a dynamic group of industry stakeholders to serve on the NHFA Advisory Council, which will guide the NHFA’s activities. Interim Chairperson Gale Landers, founder and CEO of Fitness Formula Clubs, will lead the NHFA Advisory Council. The inaugural class of 10 Advisory Council members includes:

    "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 in Washington, D.C., 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."

    The NHFA Advisory Council commits to adhere to the following set of principles on behalf of the U.S. health and fitness industry:

    • 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
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    What is the NHFA’s mission?

    For decades, IHRSA and the Industry Leadership Council (ILC) have proficiently influenced legislation on behalf of the U.S. health and fitness industry. COVID-19 has heightened how important it is for the entire industry to be involved in lobbying and advocacy. To become more inclusive and unite the diverse, broader industry under common objectives, the ILC transitioned to the NHFA.

    An overarching goal of the NHFA is to expand using public affairs across the industry and bring operators to understand its value for lobbying and advocacy efforts. The NHFA strives to leverage the collective expertise, network, and financial contributions of its community of health and fitness-related supporters with three core objectives:

    1. Drive successful health and fitness lobbying in Washington, D.C., including legislation to provide the industry with relief from the economic harm caused by mandated COVID-19 protocols.
    2. Protect the industry from harmful state legislation.
    3. Unite industry voices to loudly proclaim and demonstrate the essential role our industry plays in addressing the epidemics of obesity, physical inactivity, and preventable chronic disease; and improving mental health.

    A percentage of all U.S.-based IHRSA membership dues revenue and additional contributions from health and fitness-related businesses and organizations will generate funding for the NHFA.

    IHRSA membership is not required to join the NHFA—anyone from health and fitness club operators, owners, and staff to fitness industry professionals, stakeholders, and suppliers are welcome to join the Alliance.

    To discuss how to become active in the NHFA, contact Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s executive vice president of public policy, at had@ihrsa.org.

    Author avatar

    Sami Smith

    Sami Smith is IHRSA's Senior Manager of Digital Communications, working to shape the organization's image on various digital platforms. On a typical day, she creates content, delivers impactful communications, and executes targeted marketing efforts to keep IHRSA at the forefront of the industry. Outside of the office, you can find her exploring new destinations, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.