SGMA's "Fly In for Fitness" D.C. advocacy event ready for take off

Congress may be on break this month, but the SGMA is busily getting ready for its first "Fly In for Fitness" government advocacy and education event Sept. 20-21 in Washington, D.C.
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Congress may be on break this month, but the SGMA is busily getting ready for its first "Fly In for Fitness" government advocacy and education event Sept. 20-21 in Washington, D.C.

The event is taking final shape as the SGMA has announced its full agenda, including a day of educational seminars, a day of lobbying and two keynote addresses.

If you're unsure if these events and the participation of industry members make an impact on the government and legislation, take note that the Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a fiscal year 2006 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education that contains $74 million for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant program. The Senate amount is $19 million more than the president's request and nearly $600,000 over the earlier House-passed amount. Why? Partly because the SGMA and non-profit PE4Life teamed up to lobby the hill during "National PE Day" last spring targeting this endangered program.

"'The Fly In for Fitness' is a response to the needs of SGMA's fitness industry members to network together and learn about issues impacting their businesses," said SGMA President Tom Cove in a release. "Utilizing the credibility of SGMA's established Washington, D.C., presence, attendees of the Fly In will be able to address these concerns and issues during one-on-one meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill.

"One of SGMA's more valuable services to the sporting goods industry is our ability to share the Washington experience with our membership. SGMA has a strong track record of representing the sporting goods industry well on Capitol Hill. Any company represented at the Fly In will benefit greatly from the experience."

One scheduled panelist from the fitness industry takes it a step further. David Nees, owner of retailer Fitness Resource, said that while the event is beneficial to those who attend, its benefits can extend to others if attendees share the message from "The Hill" once they get home.  

"Making the awareness of the importance of fitness to the politicians and the general public is the most important issue for the industry," Nees told SNEWS®. "I can take the message back to vendors we support that didn't attend, and build the process to bring the industry together on this cause."

Nees will be sitting on one of the five panels the first day, covering topics that include "Consumer Trends in Fitness," "Public Policy Promoting Physical Activity and Health," "Emerging New Business and Creative Programming."  

The panels will include manufacturers, retailers and lawyers. Some of the speakers slated for the Fly In for Fitness include attorney Mark Granger, product liability expert, Morrison, Mahoney, & Miller LLP; retailer Dick Enrico, 2nd Wind Fitness; Jason Lo, president, Johnson Health Tech; Jeff Rothe, vice president and general manager, Sears; Melissa Johnson, executive director, President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports; researcher Keith Storey, Sports Marketing Surveys; manufacturer Colleen Logan, Icon Health & Fitness; and Kevin Lamar, Lamar Health, Fitness & Sports.

"I wanted to support this because I feel the SGMA can do a ton to bring recognition to this industry and to the need for fitness to Congress," said Kevin Lamar, who will moderate a panel at the event. "If there is a fair amount of very important folks in their districts who can support them who attend (the event) and the legislators meet them, then I think you would find fitness initiatives getting more support and recognition in Congress too."

The second day of the event will be spent charging up and down the maze of buildings that make up the Capitol, meeting with representatives and senators trying to keep the importance of fitness front of mind.

For more information on the Fly In, including an agenda and speaker bios, as well as to register, click here.

SNEWS® View: This inaugural event will pack a lot of action and education in a couple of days, all a step forward in D.C. for the fitness industry and a great venue for showing legislators and others what the industry is all about. Hopefully, there will plenty of retailers, manufacturers and supporters with plenty of energy to attend this event. You'll do a lot o' talking to legislators and you'll do a lot o' walking, so bring your comfortable shoes. The fact that these types of events may have impacted the recent vote on the PEP bill shows the industry how important it is to come together and share with elected government officials the importance of fitness on the country. And who should know better than President Bush following his most recent glowing physical?

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