If you’re like me, you spend a good chunk of change on your Fit Bottomed pursuits: gym memberships, race fees, equipment … the list (and that list’s toll on my bank account) goes on and on. Can you imagine if those expenses were tax deductible? It’d be pretty rad, right?
PHIT America is trying to make that happen. This amazing organization is sponsoring National Health Through Fitness Day on Capitol Hill March 5, where several Olympians, World Championship athletes and other stars will be joining forces on the Hill to lobby Congressional members on two important pieces of pending legislation:
- The Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), which provides grants to support innovative physical education methods in schools
- The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, a federal tax law that would allow the deduction or use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities
To help put a face on the cause, middle-distance track star Brenda Martinez is joining the group in Washington, DC. Not only is she a a speedy runner and amazing ambassador for the sport of track and field — she’s also just a rock star in general. Spend some time with her, and you can’t help but be inspired by her passion to get others active, too.
Here’s what she had to say about the PHIT Act in a recent interview with Fit Bottomed Girls.
How did you get involved with National Health through Fitness Day and PHIT America? New Balance (Brenda’s sponsor) is a sponsor of PHIT America, a main partner of National Health through Fitness Day. This day on Capitol Hill provides a unique opportunity for athletes to meet with Congressional members and discuss the importance of maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.
When New Balance asked me to represent the brand in these meetings, it was an easy decision to make the trip to Washington. Fitness has always been an important part of my life — and running has given me so many opportunities to see the world, compete at the highest level, and really learn a lot about myself as both an athlete and person. It’s exciting to be here and help make changes that will benefit future generations.
What elements of the PHIT Act are you most excited about and why? The PHIT Act, which is currently pending in Congress, will allow Americans to use pre-tax medical accounts for expenses related to physical activity. The goal is to encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle by reducing the costs associated with it.
It’s such a great initiative — especially since it will lower the financial barrier to sports participation. By allowing Americans to use pre-tax dollars to cover gym memberships, sports camps and race entry fees, it just encourages people of all ages to get active.
How will the PHIT Act benefit current Fit Bottomed Girls? If you’ve ever wanted to join a gym or take part in exercise classes but felt it was too expensive, the PHIT Act will help! While it can’t be used for running shoes and apparel, the money in the account can be spent to hire a personal trainer, purchase a treadmill or to enter the New York City marathon!
How do you think the PHIT Act will encourage sedentary people to get more active? In other words, how is this different from, say a workplace initiative to get employees active by offering discounts on a gym membership? The PHIT Act casts a broader net. Maybe you aren’t the type of person who wants to join a gym, but you’d rather train for a road race. Or maybe you want a way to send your kids to youth sports camps. These are just two scenarios in which the PHIT Act will make it easier to choose to be active.
Fill-in-the blanks: If I could deduct one exercise-related expense on my taxes this year, it would be _______, because_____. A gym membership because I spend a lot of time working on my overall strength outside of running. It’s also nice to have access to cross training facilities in case of injury — or just to keep training interesting!
Your passion for this initiative is amazing! What can people do if they want to follow in your footsteps and inspire others to get active, too? Remember the person who inspired you to go after your goals? Try and find a way to follow the same steps. Volunteer some time coaching a youth team, join a group that’s training for an event together or take part in a local recreation league. By setting and achieving a goal, you can inspire those around you.
To learn more about the PHIT Act and send a letter to your Congressional representatives encouraging them to pass this legislature, visit PHIT America.
How would something like the PHIT Act impact you? Would you seek out something new, like a personal trainer, or deduct expenses you’re already paying, like race fees? —-Susan