IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, said that since Congress is moving quickly on the next rounds of stimulus relief, it has bulked up its federal lobbying power to ensure the next package provides relief for all of the country’s 40,000 health and fitness club operators.

Due to the immediate requirement to retain additional lobbyists, IHRSA and the Industry Leadership Council (ILC) launched a dedicated fundraising campaign outside the annual ILC efforts. This campaign will generate funds to retain the new lobbyists and maintain the increased Washington, D.C., presence the industry requires. IHRSA is asking fitness businesses across the country to invest in this special fundraising effort as soon as possible.

“It is precisely because regular exercise is critical to our country’s health and economic future that keeping the health club industry strong is good for America,” said Helen Durkin, executive vice president of public affairs.

On an April 8 call with industry leadership, Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s executive vice president of public affairs, announced that the association is immediately retaining multiple Washington, D.C., lobbyists. Each lobbyist will become part of a cohesive lobbying team with strength in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, reaching both Democrats and Republicans.

The lobbyist firms include:

  • Van Scoyoc Associates (IHRSA’s existing lobbyist, increasing their scope)
  • McGuireWoods Consulting (new)
  • Capitol Hill Policy Group (new)

With the new lobbyists in place, the fitness industry will have a higher profile in Washington, D.C. More lobbyists, with connections on both sides of the aisle, will increase IHRSA’s strength in its efforts to advocate for the industry. While IHRSA is exploring all avenues of industry relief, the below are the most immediate:

  • Expand Small Business Association’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan eligibility (either through an administrative fix or via a technical correction in the next stimulus package), Business interruption insurance,
  • Lease/rent relief,
  • And a 9/11-style Business and Employee Continuity Recovery Fund.

As of April 13, club companies large and small have contributed over $300,000, 100 percent of which will go directly to industry relief efforts.

Those looking to learn more about IHRSA’s efforts are expected to contact Meredith Poppler at mpoppler@ihrsa.org.

Photo courtesy IHRSA