According to IHRSA, the award was created as a reminder of the importance of public policy in the fitness industry, and is awarded to an individual who embodies this importance.
Steven was chosen due to his efforts to motivate the fitness industry to advocate for itself in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent mandated shutdown of gyms across the U.S.
The IHRSA Advocate of the Year award was presented by Jim Worthington, the former IHRSA Board Chair and owner of Newtown Athletic Club, and was given alongside an American Flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol building.
“Rodney has been an advocacy champion for years, and today he stands as the gold standard for advancing our industry in every way,” said Worthington during his introduction speech. “He has become, without a doubt, our biggest voice in recognizing the importance of the industry.”
In his IHRSA Advocate of the Year acceptance speech, Steven noted the importance of personal connections with policy-makers.
“We create relationships,” said Steven. “We start with our mayors, we go to our governors, then we go to our state senators and representatives. Then, most importantly, we go to our federal senators and representatives. When you have a relationship, they will love you and your passion for the industry and they will want to fight for the industry for us. We prescribe the benefits of regular exercise to our members everyday, now it is time we explain the benefits of regular exercise to our politicians.”
Steven continued by adding that everyone’s voice is important, and that the next step in advocacy involves the support and passing of the PHIT Act.
“It’s easy to think, ‘My voice won’t matter,’ but your voice is important,” said Steven. “Our voices together will never be forgotten, and it starts today. We must pass the PHIT Act. We have to meet our senators and representatives. Call them — call their chief of staff. You have an audience of thousands, I promise they will call you back. Let’s come together and win.”