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| IHRSA Report | In Brief Educating Legislators: Effective Talking Points By Lilly Prince W ith federal midterm and local elections in November nearing, the month of August is an opportune time for health club own- ers and managers to meet with candidates and ask them to do what they can to support Americans who want to become more active—while supporting the interests of clubs. This month, members of Congress, many of whom are up for reelection, will be in recess from the activities in Washington, D.C., and return to their districts to reconnect with voters and get a read on local issues, so they will be in your neighborhood. Meanwhile, state and local candidates are likely hard on the campaign trail, as well. So, if you’re game, and you wish to approach a federal or local candidate—at a public gathering, an in-office meeting, or even at your club—here are four ques- tions and talking points that you might find helpful: For state or local candidates “Do you favor taxing healthy behaviors, such as regular exercise, in a health club?” Their answer to this question should be a solid “no,” but if it isn’t, take the opportunity to educate them about the benefits of physical activity, from improved health to reduced healthcare costs. Explain that regular exercise helps to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, which restrains healthcare spending. Therefore, governments should be doing every- thing in their power to encourage exercise, rather than discouraging it by taxing it, thereby making it more expensive. “If legislation to limit automatic renewal of health club membership contracts was introduced, would you support it?” This question is a good segue into the important issue of state governments over-regulating service and membership contracts. Such a discussion will present a useful opportunity for you to educate the candidate on this issue, which affects health clubs in nearly every state in the U.S. Typically, a legislature will propose a bill that regulates service or membership agreements, and often specifies health club contracts. Legislatures have proposed requiring clubs to provide each member with a notice to renew 30 days before their contract expires, and in some cases, the notice is required to be sent by certified mail. While the cost implications of such regulations are alarming, thankfully, IHRSA has defeated every automatic renewal bill introduced in the U.S. so far, so the actual ramifications of such legislation have yet to be seen. For both federal and state candidates “Do you support making health club memberships more affordable for all Americans?” Making health club memberships more affordable, whether through tax credits, deductions, or employee wellness programs, will help Americans access safe, supportive places to exercise, and inspire them to lead healthier lives. Over time, this will reduce healthcare costs for both the individual and the government, and improve Americans’ quality of life. “Do you see health and fitness centers as essential to good health and economic success?” Similar to the first question, their answer should be a resounding “yes,” but in case you need a few extra talking points, emphasize that health clubs play a vital role in keeping people healthy, and incentives for memberships should be part of any discussion on investing in America’s health. Fitness centers are especially beneficial to those who need a little extra push to stay on track with their fitness goals. —| – Lilly Prince, email@example.com .org Download the Free IHRSA App: ihrsa.org/app For more guidance on speaking with candidates and elected officials, e-mail IHRSA’s expert government relations team at firstname.lastname@example.org. ihrsa.org | AUGUST 2014 | Club Business International 89