IHRSA Pledges its Support of 'Let's Move'
Boston, Mass. – The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has pledged its support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative and praised the First Lady for her leadership in tackling the problem of childhood obesity – a long-standing issue that threatens both the health of America’s children and the future of our country.
“On behalf of the entire health club industry, IHRSA heartily commends Mrs. Obama for standing up and leading America in a nationwide effort to solve the problem of childhood obesity,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO. “As a devoted mother of two school-aged children, Mrs. Obama understands that the problem of childhood obesity isn’t about statistics. It’s about real children and real families in need of workable solutions. It’s about real parents struggling to protect the health of their children in a culture and environment that often work against them. Mrs. Obama’s pragmatic, compassionate, and hands-on approach to solving the problem will serve as an inspiring example on which all of us can model our efforts.”
The health and fitness industry believes strongly that regular exercise is a pivotal antidote to the obesity problem. For almost 30 years, the industry has been working to increase physical activity in America, while IHRSA has been speaking out and working tirelessly on the need to incorporate exercise into the health care continuum as part of preventive care. In a letter to Mrs. Obama, Moore stated: “The health club industry is an important and effective resource for introducing young people to a lifetime of exercise, fitness, and healthy behaviors. We want to make sure that this far-reaching network of community-based fitness centers and professionals is at your disposal in the nation’s fight against childhood obesity and that it is not overlooked…
By educating our youth about exercise and nutrition, by showing them how much fun physical activity can be, by instilling healthy lifestyle habits at an early age, and by maximizing the innovative programming, technologies, and available research within the fitness industry—health clubs can make a meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of children.”
Health clubs play a vital role in keeping Americans of all ages healthy. With more than 30,000 across the country, they can be found in all 50 states, serving cities and towns in both rural and urban areas. Health clubs of all sizes and business models—including thousands of small and medium sized enterprises—are integral to community life. Together, they provide a gateway to healthy living for millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds.
Historically, health clubs have been successfully engaging children in regular physical activity by drawing upon state-of-the art technologies and behavior research to implement innovative programs within local communities. Today, more than 22 percent of commercial health clubs offer children-specific programming. Almost 20 percent offer a kids-only section of the club. And together, health clubs serve more than 4.8 million members under the age of 18 – including 1.13 million between 6 and 12 years old, and 3.11 million between 13 and 17.
What’s more, 33 percent of fitness professionals now teach kids’ classes, and 55 percent offer one-on-one personal training to youth aged 18 or younger. And the number of children using health clubs has increased by 108 percent since 1990. The number of first time health club members under the age of 18 has doubled in ten years.
Each year at IHRSA’s annual convention, health club owners and leaders in the health and fitness industry have the opportunity to see the latest in innovative technologies and exercise equipment designed specifically for youth, and to share ideas on how to best support the efforts of families and children who want to exercise regularly and live healthier lives. This year’s convention will take place in San Diego from March 10 through 13.
“Mrs. Obama has a tremendous and tremendously important task before her,” Moore said. “And she will need cooperation and help from all industries and from both the private and public sectors.”
According to research commissioned by IHRSA, 99 percent of Americans believe that exercise helps preserve good health, but most feel they have to battle current culture to exercise regularly and that the government should do more to promote physical activity. Americans agree at a high rate (79 percent) that, “The current culture in America, including the pressures of work, family and financial demands, makes it hard for people to exercise regularly and maintain healthy lifestyles.” More than three-fifths of Americans (61 percent) believe the government should do more to promote physical activity.
“We are extremely grateful that Mrs. Obama has taken on the issue of childhood obesity,” Moore said. “We want to see her succeed in this initiative and in leading the way to create a national environment that supports health. We encourage all Americans to stand behind Mrs. Obama in her efforts to stop the tide of childhood obesity and to do what they can to help ensure healthy futures for our children and for our country.”