Jim Worthington, owner of the Newtown Athletic Club and board chair and special advisor to the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association, received the inaugural “Jim Worthington IHRSA Advocacy Award,” which was presented during the IHRSA 2021 Annual Convention in Dallas, Texas, on Oct. 14.
This legacy award, named in honor of Worthington, recognizes his lifetime commitment to grow, promote and protect the fitness industry, which represents preventative wellbeing through exercise as medicine to improve the lives of all Americans.
As former IHRSA board member and chairman, Worthington has been at the forefront of the paradigm shift redirecting IHRSA’s focus to be on government relations, public relations and research. These are the tools to ensure that everyone will continue to have access to health and wellbeing through the fitness industry.
Worthington began his industry career in 1978 as a racquetball pro and club manager. As the general manager and then the owner of the NAC since 1981, his vision grew the club from a 15,000 square foot racquetball-only club to a premier lifestyle facility recognized on a global level. Currently, the NAC offers lifestyle programming on 25 acres with over 250,000 square feet of facilities serving tens of thousands of individuals.
In 2015, Worthington became involved in driving advocacy for the Right To Try Act, which passed into law in 2018, allowing terminally ill patients in America to access experimental drugs prior to full FDA approval so that they may have some hope and control over their own lives.
His work on the Right To Try Act launched his passion for public policy and advocacy that he applied to driving the fitness industry forward in support of federal policy, such as the PHIT Bill and the Gyms Act.
Worthington has been successful in inspiring a paradigm shift at IHRSA, creating awareness for the importance of advocacy and involvement for all industry personnel at all levels of government. This shift will steer IHRSA into the future as a more unified and well-defined representative of the industry with a seat at the table of public policy decision making.
“By creating this award in the name of and in honor of Jim Worthington, IHRSA can not only fittingly honor the visionary behind the impetus of this movement, but we can inspire others to take on the mantle of leadership and commitment that is necessary to drive such a movement into perpetuity,” said Carrie Kepple, IHRSA board ex-officio.
From this year forward, there will be a new Jim Worthington IHRSA Advocacy Award recipient annually.
“This is the single most monumental highlight of my career,” said Worthington. “I would like to thank my IHRSA board member colleagues for their creation of this award and their tireless work and support of transforming IHRSA to an Advocacy Focused Trade Association. To the public policy staff at IHRSA, Helen Durkin, Jeffrey Perkins and former employee Meredith Poppler, thank you for having me work beside you. Jennifer LaTourette and Jay Sweeney, our lobbyists who lead our strategy in D.C. and to Linda Mitchell, who has worked with me for 40 years organizing and executing our efforts. And finally, my great friend and IHRSA board member Carrie Kepple, who has always championed me. To all I will forever be grateful and indebted. From my heart, thank you.”