Francesca Schuler, CFA co-founder and CEO of In-Shape Health Clubs, announces (with a sign language interpreter) the new fitness council formed to “make California the healthiest state in the nation.”  

“Health is essential.” This was one of many key remarks made during a press conference last week to announce the re-opening of California fitness facilities, as well as the formation of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Mental Well-Being. The new advisory council, which came about in collaboration with the California Fitness Alliance (CFA), will explore healthy strategies to help all Californians thrive.

The announcement took place on June 16 at In-Shape Health Club in Bakersfield, California. Francesca Schuler, CFA co-founder and CEO of In-Shape Health Clubs, said that the CFA was “thrilled to collaborate with Governor Newsom and the new fitness council to make California the healthiest state in the nation.” Schuler added: “We believe this initiative isn’t just going to help California roar back, but help Californians roar back. Because at the end of the day, our health matters, and this is a bold step forward.”

The advisory council will emphasize child physical and mental health and be led by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Lott. It will include representatives from health and wellness organizations, youth sports programs, education, the entertainment and fitness industry, and others from around the state. “Together, we will continue our mission to provide equitable access to fitness for all Californians while educating them on the mental and physical benefits of exercise and motivating them to get moving,” said Schuler.

See also: Reopening Playbook for the Fitness Industry.

California Fitness: Roaring Back to Wellness

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Mental Well-Being activities will include

  • advising on physical activity and wellness goals for all Californians,
  • increasing awareness among all age groups, especially children and youth, about how physical activity, sports, nutrition and mental wellness contribute to productive lives,
  • encouraging intergenerational physical fitness activities to help strengthen families, and
  • collaborating with federal, state and local agencies, as well as public and private sectors, to promote physical activity and mental wellness.

See also: Three Pillars of Mental Health.

“As California reopens, we must address the impacts this pandemic has had on physical fitness and mental health,” said Governor Newsom, adding that the focus of the council will be on fitness and well-being, “two issues that need a long-term commitment and strategy to ensure our residents, especially our youth, get the physical exercise and self-care they need to thrive.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lifetime attitudes related to physical activity, sports, nutrition and wellness are formed early in life, and establishing healthy dietary and physical habits during childhood is critical to prevent chronic diseases in adulthood. Activities that promote physical health support children’s mental health, their social and emotional learning, as well as their academic and life success. Engaging in regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing depression in children and adults and can improve many of the symptoms experienced by people with depression.

In May, the CFA ran a campaign to raise awareness about the mental and physical challenges many Californians are facing. “The pandemic prevented our communities from accessing a safe place to continue working out and that has detrimentally affected their physical and mental health,” said Schuler. “Some of our members have broken down in tears of joy after returning to their club—happy to be back physically, but also emotionally. The gym is more than a place for physical exercise. It’s a place to reset your mind, destress, find community and relax.”

The CFA dropped a lawsuit, which challenged California’s prohibitions on indoor fitness, because the legal case proved to be a catalyst for the governor’s decision and the new council is a big step forward in ensuring that California fitness professionals have a stronger voice moving forward.

Learn more:

California Fitness Alliance

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom