The IHRSA Foundation 2020 Annual Report

In 2020, the IHRSA Foundation focused on projects expanding access to physical activity, specifically club-based physical activity opportunities. What will the years to come bring?

In 2020, the IHRSA Foundation continued to build on our mission to promote health through exercise. We implemented several new projects focused on expanding access to physical activity, specifically club-based physical activity opportunities. These projects continue the IHRSA Foundation’s broader focus on research, education, and engagement.

The IHRSA Foundation was established in 2012 with a core mission: to promote health through exercise. The veracity of this statement, "health through exercise," has never been more evident than this past year.

As a global pandemic took its toll, the importance of physical activity for physical health, mental health, and even protection against more severe COVID-19 outcomes became more evident. So too has the need to create inclusive, equitable access to opportunities to be physically active for people of all ages and abilities.

Ensuring the IHRSA Foundation's Future

In 2020, the IHRSA Foundation focused on efforts that move us closer to these desired outcomes. This includes the decision to dedicate 1% of all IHRSA revenues to the IHRSA Foundation, providing a long-term, sustainable funding source for the foundation to continue working to help more people achieve the healing benefits of regular exercise.

This change demonstrates IHRSA's commitment to the IHRSA Foundation as well as a buy-in for the IHRSA Foundation's mission and vision from the IHRSA membership. Additionally, establishing a sustainable funding source enables the IHRSA Foundation to plan for longer term projects.

Special Olympics Inclusive Health Innovation Grant: Building Capacity to Expand Inclusion of People with Intellectual Disability in Mainstream Fitness

In 2020, IHRSA Foundation was awarded $20,000 from the Special Olympics Inclusive Health Innovation Grant, supported by the CDC, to raise awareness and develop educational resources to help health clubs include more people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the mainstream fitness experience.

The project runs until June 30, 2021, and will result in the following outcomes:

  • A survey reporting on insights from participants with ID and their experiences using health and fitness clubs

  • Insights and considerations from health and fitness operators around disability inclusion

  • Best practices for enhancing inclusion of people with ID

  • Compiled page of resources from Special Olympics, IHRSA Foundation, and American Council on Exercise on the inclusion of people with ID in fitness

The Industry Rallying Cry: A Data-Driven Approach to Promote Behavior Change

The IHRSA Foundation—with support from industry stakeholders and input from a “Headlight Team” of volunteers from the fitness industry—has engaged ClearView Insights to develop an effective, evidence-based consumer-facing message promoting physical activity and exercise, including in fitness centers.

Specifically, the campaign aims to engage the 60% of the population who are not currently physically active. ClearView uses behavior science to measure what consumers think and feel, identify the emotional rewards that motivate customers, and develop strategies and messaging to inspire positive behavioral change.

ClearView, IHRSA Staff, and a Headlight Group—made up of industry marketing professionals—has developed a rallying cry and is in the process of testing to ensure that it will achieve the desired results.

Financial Recap

As a 501(c)(3) public charity, the IHRSA Foundation generates revenue from individual donations, sponsorship, ticket revenue to the annual reception, grants, and Amazon Smile.

IHRSA supports the IHRSA Foundation financially and through in-kind contributions, including time, personnel, and facility resources.

In 2020, the IHRSA Foundation Reception and IHRSA Foundation 5K raised a total of $4,050. Amazon Smile donations added another $77.01 in revenue.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the IHRSA Foundation did not receive any direct donations in 2020.

New Funding Structure

In 2020, IHRSA and IHRSA Foundation leadership made the decision to allocate 1% of all IHRSA revenues to the IHRSA Foundation. The new allocation began on January 1, 2021. For FY21, with no in-person events, this new structure is likely to generate $50,000 - $60,000.

Additionally, funds for research projects that will run through the IHRSA Foundation in 2021 will come from the gracious support of donors and industry stakeholders.


Supporting Faith Leaders in Modeling and Facilitating Healthy Behavior Change

Early in 2021, the IHRSA Foundation teamed up with the Caritate Life Enhancement Foundation and Victory Outreach Reno on a project aiming to help church leaders in predominantly Latin American and Hispanic communities guide and support their congregations in making healthy lifestyle changes.

The first part of this project is to assess the current knowledge and readiness of U.S.-based Victory Outreach Church leaders to model and facilitate health behavior changes in their communities. The survey results will inform future tools and resources to support these leaders in improving the health and well-being of their communities through diet, exercise, and wellness.

Understanding What Motivates Consumers to Be Physically Active

The IHRSA Foundation—in collaboration with ABC Fitness Solutions—is conducting a consumer study to understand the underlying motivations and barriers related to physical activity. The IHRSA Foundation and ABC Fitness Solutions have commissioned ClubIntel to oversee the study, which will be based on survey results of a nationwide sample of 2,000 Americans ages 18 and older. The IHRSA Foundation will support the project through survey development, analysis, reporting, and communication of findings.

In June of 2021, the IHRSA Foundation debuted a new website to increase awareness and education about the Foundation’s ongoing work and important initiatives.

For more information about the IHRSA Foundation, and updates on ongoing projects, visit

Related Articles & Publications

  • An Open Letter to the Fitness Industry on Inclusivity

  • IHRSA Foundation 2019 Annual Report

  • IHRSA Foundation 2018 Annual Report

Author avatar

Alexandra Black Larcom

Alexandra Black Larcom, MPH, RD, LDN, previously served as IHRSA's Senior Manager of Health Promotion & Health Policy—a position dedicated to creating resources and projects to help IHRSA members offer effective health programs, and promoting policies that advance the industry.