6 Ways to Advocate for Wellness in Your Community
If you’re in business, you’re in politics—and as the owner of a fitness business, you and your team have the potential to be a part of something bigger than your gym or studio. You have the opportunity to be a voice for the fitness industry and an advocate for wellness in your community and beyond. At IHRSA, The Global Health & Fitness Association, that’s what we’re all about. Our mission is to grow, protect, and promote the health and fitness industry, while supporting our members and increasing access to physical activity around the world.
I recently spoke at the Mindbody BOLD 2022 conference to talk with wellness professionals about IHRSA’s evolving vision of success and how to get involved. As our organization transforms and shifts its focus to increased advocacy, we’re striving to enhance local, federal, and international leaders’ perception of the fitness industry’s contribution to health and wellness. As part of these efforts, we’re actively partnering with organizations around the world, meeting with leaders on Capitol Hill, and working to solidify fitness industry representation across the United States.
Whether you’re an IHRSA member or simply interested in amplifying conversations and initiatives around wellness in your community, your voice can make an impact. Here are six ways you can be an advocate for your business, health and wellness, and the fitness industry.
Join Project 435
Together with the National Health & Fitness Alliance (NHFA), IHRSA is working on an initiative to ensure each of the 435 congressional districts in the U.S. has representation from the fitness industry. Through this grassroots mission, we want to make sure that each district has, essentially, a team “captain” to stay on top of policy changes or threats to the fitness industry—someone who can speak out and amplify these messages to rally fitness professionals in their area. Interested in learning more? Get started by filling out the form here.
Get to know your local politicians
As a business owner, forming relationships with your representatives and local politicians can be extremely beneficial. From congressional and state representatives to your governor, mayor, and even your local health department officials, these people make decisions that can affect your industry and business. By working with them, you can influence more positive changes. One way to begin forming relationships is by inviting these folks to your studio events, such as openings or fundraisers.
Keep your representatives updated
Once you’ve been introduced to your representatives, stay in touch with them. Consider sending regular “state of wellness” updates in your community. Don’t shy away from voicing concerns and offering solutions, incorporating learnings from sources like Mindbody’s State of the Industry and IHRSA research to provide compelling, educational, and data-backed information.
Stay active on social media
Social media is one of the ultimate ways to stay connected with your local community and boost your messaging. Use your platforms to discuss the importance of wellness and educate the people in your area about the fitness industry, your business, and the positive impact it has on overall health and wellbeing. Share relevant stats and data from Mindbody and IHRSA resources, like the ones mentioned in the previous section, to help educate your audience even further.
Participate in public discussions
Your personal experience as a wellness professional is invaluable when advocating for your business and the industry. Look for opportunities in your local area and state to speak in public wellness, fitness, or mental health panels—wherever your experience can add a beneficial perspective. By sharing your business’s story, how you have helped your community, or how fitness and wellness has positively impacted you, you can show others firsthand how vital the wellness industry is.
Partner with other local businesses
Partnerships can be deeply powerful and a great way to advance your messages. Consider teaming up with other wellness-focused businesses in your area to expand your audience and show off the positive outcomes of internal support within the wellness industry.
Wellness is essential, and in the fitness industry, we know that more than anyone. That's why it's critical to spread this message and advocate for the local, state, and national benefits of supporting wellness businesses. You don’t have to be well connected, and you don’t have to run for office to make a difference—you just have to make your voice heard to spark interest that can lead to positive change.