This month we sat down with Ed Eickhoff, the chief operating officer of PFMG Development, LLC, to discuss state alliances.
What led to the founding of the Michigan Fitness Club Association (MFCA)?
When COVID-19 hit, it became very obvious there was no organized voice for the health and fitness industry in the state of Michigan and the MFCA was formed to be that voice.
What are some of the main things you’ve been able to achieve through the association?
Since our original meeting in mid-May, the MFCA went from being a thought process to formally forming a 501(c) (6) association. We hired an attorney to handle the necessary filings with the state, created bylaws, came up with a logo, developed a website, formed a board, hired a lobbyist and went to work. We went from the original eight members of the board to a 107-member organization and growing.
Our accomplishments include: engaging with the administration in the state on the work group to create the reopening protocols for our industry; held “Boot Camp at the Capitol” as a means of peaceful protest to bring awareness to our plight; provided statistics on the Visit to Virus data by MXM and IHRSA, showing that statistically health and fitness facilities do not spread the coronavirus; we have shared statistics on how obesity is one of the leading underlying causes of being affected by COVID-19; we hired a public relations firm and created a campaign that included creating a video and having a media event to garner media attention to the fact health and fitness facilities are part of the solution and not part of the problem; and on and on. The culmination was when the governor released her executive order allowing us to reopen, the MFCA was quoted in the press release speaking on behalf of the industry in our state.
What are your thoughts on the importance of state alliances to the industry’s future success?
In order to survive we will need to roll back, at the appropriate time, the restrictions that were put in place when we were given permission to reopen. We need to partner with our governors to promote wellness in our states so when future crises arise, we are a healthier population with the immune systems to fight disease. We need federal relief now to help us rebuild our businesses after mandatory shutdowns and being limited in our abilities to rebuild our businesses. We have long-term goals of getting discounts on health care if you have a regular exercise regimen and being able to use flexible spending account dollars for health and fitness memberships.
Ed Eickhoff’s two tips for forming state alliances:
1. Don’t be afraid to work with your competitors. You will find there is strength in numbers and there are issues above club operations that affect all of us that we can work on together for the benefit of all.
2. As in all volunteer roles, you will get back more than you give. Friendships will be formed, successful best practices will be learned and you will feel gratified for making a difference.
To learn more about how Ed Eickhoff got involved in state alliances, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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