We look forward to uniting the advocacy, public policy, and lobbying efforts of the entire fitness industry in Washington, DC
– Gale Landers
A major new initiative will look to strengthen and unite the fitness industry's voice in influencing policy and policymakers in the US.
The National Health & Fitness Alliance (NHFA) aims to consolidate and centralise the advocacy, public affairs, stakeholder engagement, fundraising and lobbying efforts of the health and fitness industry – and to represent and protect its interests.
NHFA has been created by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and will look to drive successful health and fitness lobbying in Washington, DC, including legislation to provide the industry with relief from the economic harm caused by mandated COVID-19 protocols.
Other core objectives include protecting the industry from harmful state legislation and uniting industry voices to "loudly proclaim and demonstrate" the essential role the fitness industry plays in addressing the epidemics of obesity, physical inactivity, and preventable chronic disease; and improving mental health.
NHFA be led by an advisory council, as part of a strategy to leverage the collective expertise, network, and financial contributions of its community of health and fitness-related supporters
The council consists of industry professionals and stakeholders and will be chaired on an interim basis by Gale Landers, CEO of Fitness Formula Clubs.
Others sitting on the 10-person council include Debra Strougo Frohlich, founder of Row House and Xponential Fitness, Jim Worthington, owner and president of Newtown Athletic Club and Adam Zeitsiff, president and CEO of Intelivideo.
At the heart of NHFA's work will also be to make policymakers and public health professionals better understand and appreciate the essential role that health clubs and fitness facilities play in communities across the nation.
According to IHRSA, the pandemic has shown that, in many jurisdictions, this is not the case at the moment – reflected in government officials being quick to shut down fitness facilities and, subsequently, being too slow to acknowledge the evidence-based case for reopening with appropriate safety measures.
Brent Darden, IHRSA interim president and CEO, said: “The pandemic made it painfully clear that too many policymakers and public health officials don’t quite grasp the vital nature of the health and fitness industry.
“I am confident that the NHFA will strongly communicate the value of our industry and effectively advocate for policies that support our leadership role in building more active and healthy communities.”
The NHFA Advisory Council has outlined five key principles it has committed to – on behalf of the US health and fitness industry.
These are to embody servant leadership to industry stakeholders, focusing on the greater good of the industry, being faithful stewards of contributions, operating with transparency and driving toward "clearly defined outcomes".
Gale Landers, interim chair of the NHFA Advisory Council, said: "We will build upon the groundwork laid by IHRSA and the Industry Leadership Council.
"We look forward to uniting the advocacy, public policy, and lobbying efforts of the entire fitness industry in Washington, DC, by collaborating with and incorporating the work of the newly-created state alliances, while supporting club companies of all sizes, advancing stakeholder engagement, and raising the profile of the fundraising necessary to achieve our goals."