After taking a stab at a long-term plan last summer to help promote physical activity and health clubs, IHRSA has decided on rallying around a single week in May to be called "Get Active America!" as one contribution toward combating inactivity and obesity.
Get Active America, with the goal to encourage more Americans to add physical activity to their daily lives through club attendance, will promote national club open houses where the public can workout for free during one three-day weekend in May.
When the non-profit club group initially kicked around what it could do with its members about the growing obesity problem (see SNEWS story from June 12, 2003), an "Industry Growth Council" was imagined as a vehicle that could help target three industry needs: improving member retention, developing international research data and creating consumer promotions. But after a letter-writing campaign, discussions with leading suppliers and talks with clubs, the idea took the shape of a stand-alone event to focus on introducing health clubs to more consumers. The group hopes it will become an annual event with 1,500 to 2,000 clubs participating.
Why the focus on consumer participation? Retention seemed to be more of a club issue, said IHRSA Director of Business Development Chuck Leve, and tackling international research wasn't necessarily realistic at this time. But getting more consumers in the door was do-able.
"Having had great success with one-day, free access to clubs promotions in San Francisco in February and Washington, D.C., in May, we took the concept, expanded to a one-week period, plugged into May 2004 (National Fitness Month) and away we went," Leve told SNEWS.
The campaign is about educating the public, helping get people healthier, and "less about hard bodies and thongs," he added.
Ten of the largest suppliers jumped aboard at three levels to support the efforts, bringing in a total of $120,000. Leve said several sponsors outside the industry are expected before the end of the year, which could double or triple the budget. Premier sponsors are: Cybex, Life Fitness, Matrix Fitness and Technogym. Sustaining sponsors are the Nautilus Health & Fitness Group and Star Trac. Contributing sponsors are FreeMotion Fitness, Iron Grip, Precor and True. In addition, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has stepped up to invest time and energy to assist in promotion.
The event will allow club members to bring a guest to their club for free May 17-20, 2004. The following three days of the event (May 21-23) opens the door to anyone in the community to experience a club for free without the need for a club member invite. Clubs can start signing up to participate in January by calling IHRSA, 800-228-4772, ext. 173. The community will find clubs by going to www.healthclubs.com. A national media campaign funded by sponsorships will help make consumers even more aware of the importance of physical activity as well as in the door at area clubs.
The so-called Industry Growth Council, made up of representatives from all the companies largest suppliers, will continue to meet at IHRSA's annual convention and trade show to discuss how the industry might promote healthy lifestyles and physical activity, said Bill Howland, IHRSA's spokesman.
For more information about the promotion, click here.
SNEWS View: One step at a time. If this helps get just one more person regularly involved in an activity program, all the finer. As we've said before, we understand IHRSA's need to focus on club participation since that's its focus. We just wish it would broaden the scope a tad. It's been shown time-and-time again of late that most consumers get their activity prescriptions best met by doing things both inside and outside four walls. We'd love to see this campaign include things like running, walking, rock climbing, paddling, hiking and all kinds of things that will make the public healthier, with education that demonstrates how these things complement each other. Of course, we'd fully expect IHRSA to emphasize working out inside to supplement your health and your performance for when you go outside -- the group IS about clubs. Perhaps there are some sponsorship opportunities here for companies that don't make iron and steel stuff. Interested? Contact Leve at 847-480-1818, ext. 5599.