Helping the Fitness Industry: IHRSA's July Lobbying Efforts

    From governors to senators, IHRSA's been busy making the case that health clubs are vital to their communities' health.

    September 20, 2023 Update: The health and fitness industry continues to strongly advocate for Congress to #PassPHIT. To participate in active campaigns, visit the IHRSA action center. For more recent updates and resources, check out our PHIT page.

    Beginning in the early days of the pandemic, our team has worked nonstop to advocate for the industry to Congress and state lawmakers. We've sent letters, organized grassroots campaigns, met with official reopening teams to discuss guidelines, collaborated with national and international health organizations, and more.

    Since the first month of dedicated lobbying efforts, we've been so focused on what we can do to help keep clubs in business that we haven't done the best job sharing our latest actions. To remedy this, we're creating this page that we'll frequently update with all the work being done to help the fitness industry.

    IHRSA's July Lobbying Activity

    Senate Republicans are trying to put together a $1 trillion economic relief package. We expect them to unveil their bill soon. Then they will negotiate with the Democrats.

    IHRSA’s Lobbying Activity for the Week of July 20

    • Senate Republicans Leaderships met Tuesday, July 21, to discuss their economic relief package. Sections of the package were leaked/released. We expect the full release by the end of the week.
    • Experts anticipate the Senate bill will represent a little more than $1 trillion in spending. For comparison, the House bill was $3 trillion.
    • IHRSA continues to engage Senate offices, discussing our priorities for the bill through virtual fly-in meetings with club operators, lobbyists, and Senate staff. Currently, we are focusing on scheduling meetings for IHRSA members who are constituents of the Senate Small Business Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
    • Given the closing of clubs in additional states, IHRSA sent another letter to Congressional leadership documenting the crisis facing the health and fitness club industry. Congress must act to save hundreds of thousands of jobs. In the letter, we stress that "without immediate federal assistance, IHRSA estimates that 8,000 businesses could shutter permanently, affecting tens of thousands of workers across the industry." This effort is accompanied by a targeted push to get coverage from D.C. media on how badly the latest coronavirus surge is impacting the industry.
    • As part of an effort to address the severe problems COVID-19 has created for physical activity and kids sports, the PHIT Coalition (interest groups spanning the medical field, health and fitness clubs represented by IHRSA, youth sports organizations and professional sports leagues) and the PlaySports Coalition—representing over 4,000 organizations—sent a letter to Senate leadership asking for passage of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (S. 680/H.R. 1679).

    From the start, our lobbying asks of Congress have focused on gaining immediate relief, future protection, and stimulus to get the industry and America healthy once again.

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    Here’s where the issues we’re fighting for currently stand:

    • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - We’re asking Congress to modify the PPP to allow mid-sized health and fitness chains to participate. While we anticipate additional changes to the Small Business Administration’s PPP, at the moment the prospects for expansion of eligibility are unclear.
    • RESTART Act - We’re asking for direct financial assistance to the industry through additional loan forgiveness via the RESTART Act (S. 3814). Preliminary reports of the Republican leadership package do not include the RESTART Act. However, the bill’s Congressional champions remain optimistic that aspects of the bill—if not the whole thing—will find their way into the final version. Part of the optimism is because currently, there are 22 co-sponsors in the Senate with another 10 expected, meaning one-third of the Senate supports the measure.
    • Business Interruption Insurance (Rep. Maloney bill) - No movement. We don’t anticipate Business Interruption Insurance to be part of the current economic relief negotiations. A committee hearing is expected in September.
    • Liability Protection - Expected to be a key piece of the Republican proposal.
    • Clean Start: Back to Work Tax Credit Act - Early indications show that we could see a provision addressing this. The bill could provide credits or other relief to businesses for COVID-19 related cleaning expenses.
    • PHIT - We continue to urge Congress to provide tax incentives to spur consumer spending on health and fitness. The Youth Sports Coalition—part of the PHIT Coalition—began lobbying Wednesday, July 22, for the RESTART Act and PHIT, among other things.

    IHRSA’s Lobbying Activity for the Week of July 13

    • Meetings with Senate offices through virtual fly-ins are underway with completed and/or scheduled calls with Rubio (R-FL), Cassidy (R-LA), Warner (D-VA), Casey (D-PA), Toomey (R-PA), Booker (D-NJ), Stabenow (D-MI), Murkowski (R-AK), and Hassan (D-NH).
    • IHRSA joined a coalition supporting a tax credit for cleaning costs associated with COVID-19.
    • We reached out to the White House on IHRSA relief and stimulus needs, including PHIT.
    • The PHIT Coalition delivered a letter to all members of the Senate Finance Committee and held a virtual fly-in Wednesday, July 22.
    • We held discussions with PHIT Sponsor Sen. Thune (R-SD) on including PHIT in the economic relief package.
    • IHRSA continues to support liability protections for businesses operating while COVID-19 is a risk.

    IHRSA’s Lobbying Activity for the Week of July 6

    • IHRSA sent letters on the need for remaining PPP funds to be directed to shuttered industries like clubs to the SBA, the Treasury Department, the Senate Small Business Committee (Rubio and Cardin (D-MD)).
    • IHRSA’s lobbyists contacted all Senate Small Business Committee Members
    • Virtual fly-in outreach to book calls with Small Business Committee (PPP & Restart Loan) and Senate Finance (PHIT)
    • Sen. Capito (R-WV) highlighted the need to direct relief to clubs and gyms
    • Discussion with PHIT Sponsor Rep. Kelly (R-PA) to advance PHIT in this relief effort

    The letter signed by 60+ ILC members and sent to governors made a great media hit. Here’s our letter highlighted on The Today show and here it is on Fox Business.

    Three Ways to Help

    You can help our lobbying efforts in three ways:

    1. participate,
    2. share,
    3. contribute.

    Your voice matters. Participating in grassroots efforts helps lawmakers understand what is important to their constituents. Every communication matters! IHRSA is running grassroots campaigns on the national level and in multiple states. See current efforts you can participate in with the IHRSA Action Center.

    Sharing grassroots campaigns with your members lets them take an active role in helping to save their club. When Michigan clubs shared the campaign asking Governor Whitmer to reopen health clubs with their members, more than 6,000 gym-goers participated. Your members care and want to help.

    Finally, you can help by contributing to IHRSA's lobbying efforts. Accomplishing the fitness industry's goals in every state and at the federal level—now and for the future—takes resources. Even in good times, a unified association with a strong advocacy arm is necessary to track, confront, and overcome threats, jump on opportunities, and deliver results.

    Now, more than ever, that strong advocacy arm is needed. And it needs your support! Learn more about how you can help by contacting Mike Goscinski at

    Author avatar

    Helen Durkin

    Helen Durkin, JD, previously served as IHRSA's Executive Vice President of Public Policy—a position that served as a champion for the industry and advocate for physical activity, primary prevention, and public policies that promote wellness.