The Health & Fitness Association (HFA), formerly IHRSA, reported that 120 industry leaders participated in this year’s HFA Fly-In and Advocacy Summit May 7-8 in Washington, DC, doubling last year’s attendance.

Operators from health clubs, studios and industry suppliers met with 130 Congress members or staff on May 8, asking for co-sponsorship of the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT).

The PHIT Act has 76 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 18 in the Senate. It would allow Americans with flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to use up to $1,000 for those who are single and $2,000 for married couples to pay for fitness facility memberships, fitness equipment and youth sports leagues.

“The majority of people we met with on Capitol Hill said the PHIT Act seems like common sense, indicating they saw little reason to oppose it, so we hope to see additional sponsors signing onto the bill in the coming weeks,” said HFA Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Goscinski.

In addition to the PHIT Act, fly-in participants advocated promoting National Guard soldier readiness through community-based fitness initiatives by adding AFFIRM to the National Defense Authorization Act. The organization also urged federal protection for those who use AEDs, mandated in fitness facilities in many U.S. states.

Before the meetings, participants gathered on May 7 for a day of preparation and education. As part of the process, the association released data quantifying the economic impact of the health and fitness industry and results of polling about Americans’ preference for expansion of HSAs and FSAs to include gym memberships, fitness equipment and children’s sports league fees, including a presentation on childhood obesity and the impact of inactivity on kid’s physical and mental health.

Participants also attended a reception at Nationals Park, sponsored by ABC Fitness, Studio Grow and Technogym, and then stayed for the game between the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles with tickets sponsored by ABC Fitness.

The following day, before meetings with legislators, about 30 industry leaders joined with Rep. William Timmons (R-SC) for a workout near the capitol building, led by Michaela Brown, general manager of Vida Fitness & Aura Spa, Logan Circle, sponsored by Myzone, Vida Fitness and the Physical Activity Alliance. It was part of the Congressional Physical Activity Challenge organized by Myzone and the Physical Activity Alliance to raise awareness about the importance of physical activity.

Participants in the fly-in included executives from 40 club and studio brands, plus leaders from sponsoring suppliers.

“With three fly-ins now under our belt, we have increased our visibility on Capitol Hill, and that is due to the busy industry leaders who are stepping out of their comfort zones and away from their businesses for two days to participate,” offered HFA President and CEO Liz Clark. “We appreciate that such a large group of leaders understand that building relationships with legislators and advocating for important legislation will make a difference for their businesses and the industry overall.”

The next HFA Fly-In and Advocacy Summit will take place May 6-7, 2025.

Image courtesy Fitness & Health Association