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Fitness industry group hires new CEO amid lobbying push

Fitness industry group hires new CEO amid lobbying push
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The fitness industry’s trade association has found its new chief executive as it lobbies Congress to provide relief to gyms and health clubs hit hard by the pandemic.

Elizabeth Clark will take over as president and CEO of IHRSA, The Global Health & Fitness Association, in August. Clark has led government relations for the National Confectioners Association since 2011 and previously was an executive director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“I am honored to work alongside and on behalf of this dynamic and evolving industry,” Clark said in a statement. “This is an exceptional opportunity to bring my experience to bear for an industry I have been personally committed to for my entire life, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

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Clark will be the first female chief executive in the group’s 40-year history. Clark was credited with successfully lobbying the Trump administration to deem confection manufacturing “essential” amid the pandemic.

IHRSA has been pushing Congress to provide relief to health and fitness facilities, most of which were forced to close for extended periods during the pandemic. While restaurants received specified aid in the American Rescue Plan, the fitness industry did not.

The group says 1.4 million fitness professionals have lost their jobs during the pandemic and 17 percent of clubs were permanently closed as of December 2020. It said the Paycheck Protection Program has not been enough for some gyms to survive.

IHRSA is gathering support for the Gym Mitigation and Survival Act, a bipartisan bill that would give $30 billion in aid to gyms and health clubs. The bill’s sponsors, Reps. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyFitness industry group hires new CEO amid lobbying push House Democrats introduce bill to close existing gun loopholes and prevent mass shootings Bipartisan Senate bill introduced to give gyms B in relief MORE (D-Ill.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave MORE (R-Pa.), sent a letter to President BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE asking to include the legislation in upcoming spending packages.