A Call to Action

In 1996, when the U.S. Surgeon General’s office released the landmark report, Physical Activity and Health (released in cooperation with the CDC and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness), the health club industry was given a beacon directing it where to go. But very few clubs have successfully taken advantage of this information to create programs that attract the deconditioned population.

Then-acting U.S. Surgeon General Audrey Manley made several key statements in her executive summary of the report. She said, “As this report makes clear, current levels of physical activity among Americans remain low…. The good news in the report is that people can benefit from even moderate levels of physical activity. … The tremendous health gains that could be realized with even partial success at improving physical activity among American people compel us to make a commitment and take action. With innovation, dedication, partnering and a long-term plan, we should be able to improve the health and well being of our people.” Manley went on to call the report “a national call to action.”

Also in the executive summary, Donna E. Shalala, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, stated, “This watershed report comes not a moment too soon. We have found that 60 percent — well over half — of Americans are not regularly active. Worse yet, 25 percent of Americans are not active at all.” She went on to say, “Health professionals, in addition to being role models for healthy behaviors, need to encourage their patients to get out of their chairs and start fitness programs tailored to their individual needs.” Her words are not being heeded by most clubs, and a tremendous opportunity is being missed.

The findings of the Surgeon General’s report are well-known in corporate America, and the problems facing these corporations due to their sedentary workforce represent an outstanding opportunity for clubs with a well-thought-out plan.

To help put a plan together, there is a great deal of literature and additional information available. IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) members have access to a resource center.

And Fitness Management’s Website also has useful information. The Internet provides almost unlimited information ranging from the Centers for Disease Control to former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop’s “Shape Up America” program.