Industry Partner Town Hall Tackles Key Issues

    IHRSA Industry Partner Advisory Council town hall highlights IHRSA’s advocacy successes, future plans, and results of IHRSA 2023.

    • May 12, 2023

    On April 27, the Industry Partner Advisory Council (IPAC) hosted its first-ever town hall along with Liz Clark, IHRSA president & CEO, and additional IHRSA leadership to discuss the state of the industry and other issues.

    Bill Davis, CEO of ABC Financial and chair of the IPAC, hosted the hour-long town hall and provided a full report on IHRSA, focusing on its financial outlook and advocacy agenda. Bill noted that he accepted a seat on the IHRSA Board as the IPAC representative and introduced Liz, who provided an update on the state of IHRSA as the end of the fiscal year approaches.

    Since it was Bring Your Kid to Work Day—yes, it’s an official promotion from the U.S. Interior Department—Liz introduced her nine-year-old daughter, Penelope, who provided an update on her trip to Boston with her mother.

    Liz began her presentation by proclaiming, “The state of IHRSA is great. We are really back.” She spoke of the success of IHRSA 2023 in San Diego, where she hosted the first-ever meeting of the Strategic Advisory Council (SAC), a group of 20 industry leaders tasked with creating a strategic plan for the global industry. Liz also spoke about the commitment to the association’s three strategic pillars: Advocacy, Education, and Research.

    While IHRSA has turned a corner from its tenuous financial status brought on by the pandemic, Liz stressed that challenges remain as the association seeks to rebuild staff and create a more solid foundation for future endeavors. Liz also spoke of IHRSA’s public affairs efforts and her role in repositioning the industry as a more effective influence for regulatory and legislative actions.

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    Liz met with many members of Congress during the 2023 IHRSA Fly-In & Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. Here she poses with Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) and Tom Cove, SFIA President & CEO.

    She then turned the floor over to Mike Goscinski, IHRSA vice president of government affairs, who provided a fuller summary of IHRSA’s advocacy.

    IHRSA Government Affairs Efforts Trend Upwards

    Hired in December 2022, Mike told the group that he had previously worked with Liz at other associations and hoped to join her at IHRSA in building an advocacy powerhouse in Washington, D.C., for the fitness industry.

    “We want to change the way that the industry is perceived on Capitol Hill and in state houses throughout the country,” he said. The plan includes increasing lobbying and grassroots campaigns while building relationships with elected officials and policymakers.

    Mike detailed IHRSA’s recent advocacy successes:

    1. Preventing legislation in Maryland that would have eliminated liability waivers for fitness facilities and

    2. The PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act’s reintroduction in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

    Mike also announced the Fly-In & Advocacy Summit, where select industry leaders attended workshops and met with legislators in the nation’s capital on May 9 and 10.

    He stressed that advocacy work is ongoing on a local, state, federal, and international level throughout the year. Furthermore, he acknowledged the IHRSA PAC and invited the attendees to contact him to sign up for advocacy newsletters and legislative alerts.

    In conclusion, he thanked the group and urged them to join IHRSA’s advocacy efforts. He said that in his previous association work, “the supplier community was strongly engaged in advocacy efforts on behalf of the operator community.” He insisted, “Your participation matters.”

    Successful IHRSA 2023 Rebounds IHRSA & Fitness Industry

    Next, Luke Ablondi, IHRSA Trade Show director, spoke on the results of IHRSA 2023. “By all accounts, IHRSA 2023 was a tremendous success,” he said.

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    The IHRSA 2023 Trade Show floor was booming with business throughout the two-day event.

    He would know. As a chief event organizer, Luke works with every exhibiting company to secure booth space for the Trade Show. To that end, he thanked the attendees.

    “A thank you is warranted to all of our exhibitors and suppliers who have supported IHRSA throughout our industry's recovery. And, of course, those that exhibited at IHRSA 2023,” he said.

    He noted that more than 330 exhibitors set up in San Diego, making this the most successful IHRSA Convention & Trade Show post-pandemic. “We also had some first-time exhibitors who made a big splash,” he said. “The energy on the show floor was great, and feedback from exhibitors has been exceptional.”

    Luke mentioned that many international IHRSA members returned after years of travel restrictions, with representatives from 82 countries making the trip to San Diego. After listing other IHRSA 2023 highlights—e.g., keynotes, fireside chats, panels, and sessions—and showing a recap video of the event, he ended by previewing next year’s show in Los Angeles, scheduled for March 6-8.

    Next, Bill announced he conducted a snap poll of attendees, asking what part of the week they preferred the IHRSA show to take place. The winner by a margin of three to one was Wednesday through Friday. He followed that up with another poll that asked attendees if they preferred a specific region or city to host the annual IHRSA show or if they would like a different venue every year. The results were evenly split.

    The town hall ended with a short Q&A that went into sports adaptive training, research, serving those with disabilities, and other issues—some related to previously discussed topics, particularly advocacy.

    Bill concluded the town hall by graciously thanking Liz and the entire IHRSA team for their work and their participation in the town hall. He also hopes to continue hosting one or two yearly IPAC town halls. So, stay tuned for a recap of the next meeting.

    For more detailed information, check out the full video of the town hall.