Consistency Is Key: True for Fitness Goals and PHIT Goals

    If we want to pass PHIT, we’ll need to keep achieving those small victories, just like your health club members who want to meet their fitness goals.

    Whatever happened with the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act?

    The PHIT Act passed the House in the 115th Congress, does that mean we're just waiting on the Senate?

    The PHIT Act is one of the few bills with support from both Republicans and Democrats, so why can't they just pass this bill?

    We've heard these kinds of questions a lot from health clubs and fitness enthusiasts alike. We get it. This process can be frustrating and seem never-ending, like the last few seconds of a workout that really pushes you.

    The good news is we’ve made some strides with PHIT this year. Think of these victories like the NSVs—or non-scale victories—that help keep your members coming back to your club. These PHIT NSVs help us on our journey to #PassPHIT!

    Before we get into these victories, we won't keep you guessing on the questions above.

    Whatever happened with the PHIT Act? PHIT is still going strong, and we are doing everything we can to find a place for it, which is why we still need your help!

    The PHIT Act passed the House in the 115th Congress, does that mean we're just waiting on the Senate? Sadly, that's not how it works. PHIT did pass the House in the 115th Congress, but since the 115th adjourned before the Senate could vote, PHIT now has to pass the House again in the 116th Congress before the new Senate can vote on it.

    The PHIT Act is one of the few bills with support from both Republicans and Democrats, why can't they just pass this bill? True, PHIT is an incredibly bipartisan bill—more on that later—but it's rare for Congress to vote on a bill by itself. So, we are working with our contacts on the Hill to find a place for PHIT.

    IHRSA Members in DC with Chairman Neal column width

    IHRSA Board members and representatives from partner organizations pose with Chairman Richie Neal after an event in D.C.

    Will 2020 Be The Year We Reach Our PHIT-ness Goals?

    IHRSA, along with our many partners, greeted the new year with renewed hope and tenacity to get PHIT over the top.

    To recap, the PHIT Act would allow Americans to use their flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for preventative care measures, like:

    • youth sports fees,
    • health club memberships,
    • fitness equipment,
    • and more.

    Currently, the IRS code only allows you to use these accounts for treatment expenses, such as prescription medications and doctor visits.

    What PHIT Covers 9 9 19 update

    “Giving individuals and families the ability to pay for physical activity with pre-tax dollars could enable more Americans to get moving on a daily basis,” says Graham Melstrand, executive vice president of engagement for the American Council on Exercise. “This is why the American Council on Exercise, and over 100 sponsors in the U.S. House and the Senate, support the Personal Health Investment Today Act.”

    Keeping PHIT Strong in Washington, D.C.

    There’s been a lot of noise coming out of Washington, D.C., this past year. So, we’ll forgive you if the latest binge-worthy show has pulled your attention away from PHIT or Washington in general. But, cut through that noise, and you will find there has been a lot of hard work and progress—yes, PROGRESS—made on PHIT.

    PHIT’s more than 100 co-sponsors is impressive, but it's always great to grow the support—think of it like how you're always trying new things to bring in new members.

    Passing a Bill—Like PHIT—Is a Lot Like Owning a Health Club

    As every successful business person knows, you have to stack one little victory atop another, each one building on the previous victory. Just like when someone joins your club, they won't see results overnight—they have to continue to show up and put in the time to reach their goal.

    Your members create fitness plans, attend group exercise classes, and track their stats, all to build the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Then, one day, your member who wasn't able to run five minutes on a treadmill before needing a break can do a full 45-minute session.

    Their progress is inspiring, and what we want more people to have the opportunity to achieve. The big difference between living a healthy lifestyle and passing PHIT is that we only need to pass PHIT once. Living a healthy lifestyle is something we need to work on continually.

    Passing PHIT Is the Sprint. Living Healthy Is the Marathon.

    Like your members who come in two to three times a week, we've been busy stacking up the small PHIT victories.

    One of which has been hosting a series of meetings with political leaders, namely House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal as well as Senate Majority Whip John Thune. Just like all fitness club owners do with members, we take all the necessary steps to understand and get to know the most important or influential people.

    “It’s these types of high level, one-on-one interactions with key decision makers that take our effort to pass PHIT to the next level of sophistication and will eventually help us get the bill over the finish line,” says longtime PHIT advocate Tom Cove, SFIA.

    We agree with Cove, and it doesn’t seem that the conversation around the PHIT Act will be dying down anytime soon, thanks to Sen. Thune, who brought it to the attention of United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, during a recent Finance meeting.

    To us, Sen. Thune discussing PHIT during that meeting and bringing it up during a live Benchwarmers interview is like receiving an awesome testimonial from a club member, without asking.

    Even better, Sen. Thune, Rep. Ron Kind, and others actively looking for opportunities to attach PHIT to moving bills in both chambers is like one of your members convincing their friends to join your club, too!

    The similarities don't stop there. Just like influencers in your community writing and talking about your club, we're continuing to elevate the conversation around Capitol Hill by joining with forces with organizations like the CDC Active People and Health Nation Initiative.

    PHIT Swag in D c Column Width

    IHRSA's work with NCPPA and other partners to hold lobby days are crucial for educating lawmakers about the urgency of increasing the number of physically active people.

    The last comparison we'll make is to the diversity of the fitness industry's membership. Getting active has a wide appeal to people of all different ages and backgrounds. There truly is an activity for everyone, and all sides of Congress seem to support this bill.

    "You just have to turn on the TV to see what divides Washington," says Monte Ward of ACSM. "Democrats against Republicans, House versus Senate, White House versus Congress, but fortunately, the PHIT bill stands as a unifier."

    Right now, PHIT has 49 Democrat sponsors, 52 Republican sponsors, and one independent sponsor in the House and Senate. Is your Congressperson one of them?

    If we want to pass PHIT, we need to keep showing up and putting in the hard work, just like your members.

    Author avatar

    Jeff Perkins @JeffD_Perkins

    Jeff Perkins is the Assistant Vice President of Government Relations for IHRSA. He's responsible for monitoring and influencing legislation at the state and federal level to protect club business models and operations, and help promote the health benefits of exercise. Jeff enjoys running, soccer, ice hockey, and ice cream, not in that order.