Help Wanted: Community Leaders



The 2nd anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign provides a moment to raise awareness of the obesity epidemic and reflect on two years of real progress.

Thanks, in large part, to Let’s Move!, concern over obesity now extends beyond public health circles and may be found in local schools, faith-based organizations, and town meetings. And, perhaps most importantly, the Let’s Move! campaign seems to have ignited a golden age of innovation for anti-obesity programs designed to create sustainable healthy habits.

But what fascinates me most about Let’s Move! is the role of its champion, First Lady Michelle Obama. Of course, her standing as First Lady provides her with a podium and an audience, but it has been the combination of her passion and energy that has fueled the development of countless initiatives around the nation. Quite simply, she has accomplished what very few studies or policy statements can ever hope to do – she has inspired people to take action.

She is widely viewed as a talented, charismatic communicator, but her skill set is by no means unique in America. American communities are full of passionate and energetic folks who can rally others to their causes. Community leaders are part of our national heritage.

One of this year’s major goals for the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) will be to encourage and support the efforts of IHRSA health clubs – i.e. passionate fitness advocates – to transform their facilities to vital community hubs for healthy living and disease prevention. We believe, wholeheartedly, that the success of the Let’s Move! team may be replicated on a local scale by fitness centers. In fact, it’s already happening.

IHRSA’s commitment to health promotion will be on full display this month at IHRSA’s 31st Annual Convention & Trade Show in Los Angeles, CA.

The convention schedule includes sessions such as, “Leveraging Healthcare & Wellness Programming to Better Serve the Community,” “If Exercise is Medicine, How do Health Clubs Cure Illness?” and “Lessons from Corporate Wellness to Get People Active.”

The capstone session, however, will be a keynote presentation and panel with members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (“the Council”) to discuss the IHRSA Joining Forces Network and other opportunities for health clubs to impact the wellness of their communities. IHRSA’s Get Active America program, for example, will empower clubs to become champions for the Council’s PALA%20 program, which encourages folks to be active and improve their diet 5 days/week for at least 6 out of 8 weeks. Another offering, IHRSA’s I Lost it at the Club, provides clubs with an 8-week turnkey program for responsible weight loss.

For more information on IHRSA’s effort to support the operation of health clubs as vital community resources, please check out our Vision for a Healthier, More Prosperous America, and let us know what you think.

What are other organizations doing to create community champions?