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IHRSA Opposes Bill That Would Scrap Liability Waivers For Maryland Gyms

IHRSA Opposes Bill That Would Scrap Liability Waivers For Maryland Gyms

IHRSA members
IHRSA’s Vice President of Government Affairs said the passing of Senate Bill 291 would be a detriment to Maryland’s 700 health and fitness facilities.

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), which worked tirelessly to keep the fitness industry alive during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now focusing on proposed legislation that would eliminate the use of liability waivers for health and fitness businesses in Maryland.

Mike Goscinski, IHRSA Vice President of Government Affairs, testified before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 29 to raise concerns about Senate Bill 291, drafted legislation that he says would have a significant impact on fitness businesses in the state.

In his testimony, Goscinski urged the opposition of SB 291 in its current form, warning that if the bill passes, it will severely limit or eliminate the liability insurance coverage market for clubs, gyms, and studios in Maryland, which range from small studios and low-cost national chains to regional and national brands.

“Statewide, some 700 facilities serve more than 1.1 million residents and employ nearly 30,000 Marylanders. Many are coaches, trainers, class leaders, and other artists who do this work part-time, during school, for extra family income, or to support a career passion,” Goscinski said. 

Goscinski told the committee that passing SB 291 would remove affordable access to the fitness industry.

“As written, the legislation places the industry at risk of unrestricted litigation exposure and opens the door to frivolous sue-and-settle actions,” Goscinski told the committee. “This ultimately leads to increased operating costs for clubs and studios and will put upward pressure on affordable access to physical activity—which, as you know, significantly benefits mental and physical health.”

Passing the bill as-is would force Maryland’s small and independent health and fitness clubs to close or raise their prices, both of which would make their health benefits inaccessible to many communities, Goscinski argued.

“After years of inactivity and impact from COVID-19—when the industry faced decimating losses due to closures and Marylanders were unable to utilize the industry’s benefits—we urge you not to compound the impacts on mental and physical health by removing affordable access to the industry through this bill,” Goscinski said in closing, adding that IHRSA has prepared proposed amendment language for consideration.

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Other industry representatives who testified alongside Goscinski included Justin Drummond, COO of PF Growth Partners, Mark Miller, COO of Merritt Clubs, and Keith Rawlings, Owner of The Arena Club. 

The hearing can be viewed here.

The IHRSA recently applauded the introduction of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, legislation aimed at improving the health and fitness of Americans by allowing flexible spending and health savings accounts to be used for physical activity products and youth sports.

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