Health clubs across the country will kick off 2008 with I Lost It at the Club! an eight-week program designed to help current and prospective club members fulfill their New Years resolutions to lose weight and establish healthier lifestyles, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). The 2008 program will run from January 7 through March 3 and will provide the level of support many people need to turn their New Years resolution to lose weight into a lasting lifestyle change for healthier living. In 2007 alone, I Lost It at the Club! helped more than 8,690 people lose nearly 13 tons or 28,810 pounds of excess weight.


     


    I Lost It at the Club! is one of several initiatives within the health club industry to help people become more physically active and establish healthier lifestyles, says Joe Moore, President and Chief Executive Officer of IHRSA. We understand how difficult it is for many Americans who are trying to take better care of their health while juggling the demands of daily living. I Lost It at the Club! is designed to provide an added level of support that many people need. And because I Lost It at the Club! begins immediately after the holiday season when weight gain and depression are particularly prevalent the support the program offers is especially significant.


     


    Participants in the 2008 I Lost It at the Club! program will get weighed, receive weight loss goals for the eight-week period and be given an activity card suggesting variations for their workouts and weight loss tracking sheets. Many clubs will offer personal trainers, nutritional counseling, weekly motivational meetings and other health-related classes. Perhaps most important, however, those participating in I Lost It at the Club! 2008 will experience a sense of community and support to help them make permanent lifestyle changes for healthier living.


     


    The support and sense of community that I Lost It at the Club! offers comes at a time when many Americans are struggling against obesity and inactivity. Many need help in the battle. In fact, according to a recent survey commissioned by IHRSA, while the vast majority of Americans (99%) believe that exercise helps preserve good health, most feel they have to battle current culture to exercise regularly. Four out of five Americans agree that The current culture in America, including the pressures of work, family and financial demands, makes it hard for people to exercise regularly and maintain healthy lifestyles.


     


    We know that consistent professional and social support increase an individuals chance of success in losing weight and achieving healthy lifestyle goals, adds Moore. I Lost It at the Club! is a comfortable welcome for newcomers to the health club experience, and its a great jump-start for anyone who wants to build a healthy lifestyle in 2008.


     


    Ten Tips for Sticking with a Weight Management Program


    Whether individuals opt to join a health club to attain their weight loss and healthy lifestyle goals, or if they go another route, IHRSA offers some basic tips:


     



    1. Focus on positive lifestyle changes, not a number on a scale.
    2. Set realistic goals. Dont strive for perfection or an improbable goal that cant be achieved. Focus, instead, on increasing healthy behaviors.
    3. Use the buddy system. Find a friend or relative whom you like and trust who also wants to establish a healthier lifestyle. Encourage one another. Exercise together. And use your weight management program as an opportunity to enjoy one anothers company and to strengthen the relationship.
    4. Know where you get your support. Spend more time with people who support you in your efforts and less time, when possible, with people who are critical or derail you in your efforts. Always try to enlist the support of your family.
    5. Keep a diet diary accurate records of what you eat and your physical activity each day to help you keep track of your progress.
    6. Eat healthy. Eat slowly to give yourself time to recognize when youve had enough, and dont skip meals.
    7. Dont view your weight management program as a sacrifice or punishment. View it as something you are doing for yourself. Get your exercise by doing physical activities you enjoy with people you enjoy. Dont completely deny yourself favorite foods to lose weight. You can still have goodies. Just eat less of them and in smaller portions, or substitute them with other healthier foods you also like.
    8. Keep it slow and steady. Dont try to lose weight quickly. Gradual weight loss is more likely to be permanent.
    9. Focus on the positive. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to stay perfectly on course each and every day. Think about what you did do right today, and always look forward to what you will try to do better tomorrow.
    10. Be your greatest advocate. If you believe you can make lasting changes for a healthier lifestyle, you will.


    Other IHRSA-Organized Consumer Health Initiatives


    As part of the annual Get Active America! program started four years ago, a wide variety of health clubs nationwide offer health-focused programs each May and open their doors for free for several days. The goal is to make it easier for Americans to exercise and to help them build regular exercise into their daily routines.


     


    IHRSA supports health promotion legislation to help encourage more active lifestyles, such as the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R.1748, S.1038). This federal legislation seeks to combat chronic disease and obesity caused by inactivity by allowing for the balanced tax treatment of fitness center memberships as an employee benefit. Specifically, it reaffirms an employers right to deduct the cost of subsidizing or providing off-site health club benefits to their workers. And it excludes the wellness benefit from being considered additional taxable income for employees. Current law allows employees to use on-site fitness facilities free of any tax implications. But when a business needs to outsource this health benefit, employees who receive off-site fitness center subsidies are required to pay income tax on the benefits. And their employers bear the associated administrative costs of complying with IRS rules. The WHIP Act eliminates this tax on off-site fitness center subsidies, making it easier for all employers to offer important exercise incentives for their workers.


     


    IHRSA also supports the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Bill (H.R. 245), which takes a giant step toward a healthier America. This legislation will allow for exercise and physical fitness programs and certain exercise equipment to be paid for out of pre-tax dollars by including them in tax deferred medical savings vehicles such as flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA). IHRSA believes that PHIT will help provide the level of support many Americans need to be able to adopt healthier lifestyles and become more physically active.


     


    IHRSA is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA is committed to taking a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America's health and the battle against obesity and disease. IHRSA supports effective national initiatives to promote more active lifestyles for all Americans and is working to pass laws that will help affect societal changes toward a more fit America. For more information, visit www.IHRSA.org. For a listing of health clubs with programs for seniors, families and people with special health concerns, contact IHRSA at healthprograms@ihrsa.org.

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