Guest Column - July 2011
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Giving Back

By Scott Goudeseune

As members of an industry that positively affects the health and wellness of our communities, we have a lot to be thankful for today. Though we have faced the nation's economic struggles alongside our neighbors, the future of fitness as a whole is looking bright—a true testament to the dedication and perseverance of all those who promote healthy living through safe exercise, sports programming and education.

New legislation and national initiatives are helping to bring fitness to the forefront of society, presenting a great deal of opportunity for fitness service professionals to grow and evolve their businesses. Programs such as Let's Move!, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, are bringing consumers' attention to the critical need to regularly engage in physical activity, while the President's Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) program is simultaneously inspiring people of all ages to make exercise an integral part of their lives, offering tools and rewards for such positive efforts.

In addition to this national attention on physical activity, fitness service providers are benefiting from the beginnings of an economic upswing. According to Recreation Management's "2011 Report on the State of the Managed Recreation Industry," 65 percent of YMCAs and 67 percent of health clubs anticipate growth in 2012.

With a promising growth forecast, increased media spotlight and White House focus all in our industry's favor, we're presented with unique opportunities to support our community and develop our business at the same time. For example, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently announced its commitment to Joining Forces, a comprehensive national initiative created to provide U.S. service members and their families the support they respectfully deserve. In support of this initiative, ACE is uniting fitness professionals, businesses and organizations across the nation to pledge at least one million hours of fitness services at no cost to family members of actively deployed military reservists and National Guard members. Participation in Joining Forces provides an opportunity for our entire fitness community to demonstrate our collective gratitude to U.S. service members and their families.

As major influencers in the fitness industry, now is the time to play an active role in positively shaping the health and wellness of our nation. This opportunity is first and foremost about giving back and serving those who support and protect our everyday rights. In addition, making a pledge of support to Joining Forces will also present you with the opportunity to introduce your services to a new audience and broaden your reach in your community, which may, in turn, help you succeed in reaching your business goals.

From personal training hours to club memberships, group fitness training sessions to free access to facilities, you and your company have a unique opportunity to join forces with our entire industry in support of our service members and their families. Every hour of fitness service pledged will positively affect the overall health and wellness of our communities.