BOSTON -- For-profit health club operators pledged $950,000 in 2009 to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association’s (IHRSA) Industry Defense Fund to help IHRSA lobby on behalf of the fitness industry, the trade association announced today.

The money, which was for the 2009 fiscal year that ended June 30, was given by the 54 members of IHRSA’s Public Policy Council (formerly the Industry Leadership Council).

The Public Policy Council was established 10 years ago by concerned club operators to ensure that the fitness industry would have the financial resources necessary to protect itself against unwarranted regulation and taxation, while positioning the industry at the forefront of health promotion and wellness policy, according to IHRSA.

"In this economy, for clubs and IHRSA alike, we must maximize every dollar to grow, protect, and promote the industry,” Meredith Poppler, IHRSA’s vice president of industry growth, said in a release from IHRSA. “This is not just about the largest clubs in the industry pledging their support. It is about every club contributing what they can.”

Over the years, members of the Public Policy Council have collectively contributed millions of dollars. The money helps to promote legislation that positively affects the bottom lines of thousands of clubs across the country, IHRSA says. In 2009, IHRSA had 18 legislative wins and no losses on the state level.

This year, 47 states are facing budget deficits, and some state legislators and governors see taxing services such as health clubs as an attractive option to earn additional revenue, according to IHRSA. At the state level, IHRSA has worked to prevent certain business regulations that it considers harmful, including proposals to tax health club membership dues, bills restricting or prohibiting automatic renewals, bills mandating licensure requirements for personal trainers, and bills mandating AEDs in health clubs without liability protection.

IHRSA also uses contributions to the Industry Defense Fund to support legislation that grows the industry by increasing the number of people exercising in health clubs. IHRSA is seeking passage of federal legislation that creates incentives for Americans to exercise (the Workforce Health Improvement Program Act and the Personal Health Investment Today Act). Dollars for the Industry Defense Fund are used to run an IHRSA Washington office, build a nationwide grassroots network and host the annual IHRSA-member advocacy day on Capitol Hill.

The following club companies contributed to the Industry Defense Fund this past fiscal year:

Titanium Contributors: Over $60,000
Anytime Fitness Corporate
Curves International Franchise Office
LA Fitness International

Gold Contributors: $15,000 to $30,000
Atlantic Coast Athletic Clubs
The Atlantic Club Inc.
Fitness Formula Clubs
In-Shape Health Clubs
The Wellbridge Co.
Western Athletic Clubs

Silver Contributors: $5,000 to $14,999
The Alaska Clubs
Club One Inc.
Dedham Health & Athletic Club
East Bank Club
The Elite Fitness and Racquet Clubs
Gainesville Health & Fitness
Genesis Health Club
Gold's Gym International LLC
Health Fitness Corp.
The Houstonian Club
Leisure Sports Inc.
Lifestyle Family Fitness
The MAC
Millennium Partners Sports
MVP Sports Clubs
Rice Fitness Centers
Saw Mill Sports Management
T.W. Holdings Inc.
Wisconsin Athletic Club Inc.

Bronze Contributors: $2,000 to $4,999
The Belmont Athletic Club
Brick Bodies Fitness Services
Cedardale Health & Fitness
The Claremont Club
ClubCorp Inc.
Club Fit Jefferson Valley
The Columbia Association
DMB Sports Clubs
GGFA
Gold's Gym Alliance of New England
Gold’s Gyms Mid-Atlantic Alliance
Hoffman Insurance Services
Livermore Valley Tennis
Michigan Athletic Club
Oxford Athletic Club
Plus One Health Management
Rochester Athletic Club
The RUSH Fitness Complex

Friends: Less than $2,000
BodyBusiness Health Club & Spa
Club Insider News
Fitness Management Systems
Gold's Gyms By Galiani
Gold’s Gyms of Wenatchee
National Academy of Sports Medicine
Oakland Hills Tennis Club
PRO Sports Club

IHRSA is now enrolling contributors for the Public Policy Council class of fiscal year 2010. To pledge, you can visit ihrsa.org/pledge or contact Meredith Poppler, mpoppler@ihrsa.org, or 800-228-4772, Ext. 129.